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History of Gas Production from Devonian Shale in Eastern Kentucky

J. R. Kemper, W. T. Frankie, R. A. Smath, J. R. Moody, I. M. Johnston, R. R. Elkin

More than 10,500 wells that penetrate the Devonian shale have been compiled into a data base covering a 25-county area of eastern Kentucky. This area includes the Big Sandy gas field, the largest in the Appalachian basin, and marginal areas to the southwest, west, and northwest. The development of the Big Sandy gas field began in the 1920s in western Floyd County, Kentucky, and moved concentrically outward through 1970. Since 1971, the trend has been for infill and marginal drilling, and fewer companies have been involved. The resulting outline of the Big Sandy gas field covers most of Letcher, Knott, Floyd, Martin, and Pike Counties in Kentucky; it also extends into West Virginia.

Outside the Big Sandy gas field, exploration for gas has been inconsistent, with a much higher ratio of dry holes. The results of this study, which was partially supported by the Gas Research Institute (GRI), indicate that certain geologic factors, such as fracture size and spacing, probably determine the distribution of commercial gas reserves as well as the outline of the Big Sandy gas field. Future Big Sandy infill and extension drilling will need to be based on an understanding of these factors.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91031©1988 AAPG Eastern Section, Charleston, West Virginia, 13-16 September 1988.