Petroleum Exploration and Production in Nebraska: Historical and Geological Patterns
CARLSON, MARVIN P., Nebraska Geological Survey, Lincoln, NE
Nebraska recently celebrated petroleum anniversaries: 100 years of exploration and 50 years of production. The Forest City basin recorded the state's first production in 1939. Shale-to-carbonate facies change occurs for both Devonian- and Ordovician-age reservoirs in a belt transverse to anticlinal structures which represent basement reactivation. Cumulative production from the Nebraska portion of the Forest City basin is almost 11 million bbl.
Oil was discovered along the Cambridge arch in southwestern Nebraska in 1948, although it wasn't until 1959 that significant exploration/production occurred. Most fields produce from Pennsylvanian carbonates. However, Nebraska's largest field (Sleepy Hollow) also produces from a basal sand which was reworked and isolated during Pennsylvanian time. Other Pennsylvanian and Cambrian sands are productive in the area but at much lower rates. Cumulative production for southwestern Nebraska is almost 103 million bbl of oil. Only minimal gas is produced.
Production was established in 1949 in the Denver basin from the bar and channel sands in the upper Dakota (Cretaceous). A cumulative of over 330 million bbl of oil and nearly 280 billion ft3 of gas has been produced. Exploration and enhanced recovery continue in these reservoirs. Permian- and Pennsylvanian-age production was discovered in western Nebraska in 1980, and exploration continues. Minor Pennsylvanian production is present in northwestern Nebraska.
Wildcat drilling in Nebraska has provided sufficient data to outline stratigraphic relationships and delineate major structures. Reservoir conditions are excellent, both stratigraphic and structural traps are present, and the requirement for an oil window may be overcome by the current popularity of long-distance migration.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91008©1991 AAPG Mid-Continent Section Meeting, Kansas Geological Society, Wichita Kansas, September 22-24, 1991 (2009)