History of Oil and Gas Exploration and Development in the Uinta Basin, Utah
John C. Osmond
Consulting Geologist, Denver, CO
The Uinta Basin is a typical, asymmetrical Rocky Mountain foreland basin filled with Paleocene and Eocene alluvial deposits that envelop a large core of lacustrine sediments. It is superposed on the western margin of the Upper Cretaceous interior seaway that is underlain by shelf and cratonic sediments draped on extensions of the Ancestral Rockies. There are abundant hydrocarbons at the surface in multi-billion barrel bituminous sandstone deposits and numerous gilsonite dikes.
The first exploration was aimed at the surface hydrocarbons without success. The second phase of exploration was aimed at anticlinal closures, but there are none in the basin. Next came extensive seismic exploration which resulted in the discovery of numerous oil and gas fields. The seismic structures on which these wells were drilled probably do not exist.
By the 1960's, experience showed that all of the fields were in some sort of stratigraphic trap. With this knowledge it was possible to drill scattered exploratory and deeper wells. These resulted in the discovery of numerous scattered oil and gas fields that have been expanding and coalescing for decades.
New technologies such as horizontal drilling and 3D seismic surveys have been used in only a few instances in the Uinta Basin, but they offer good potential for increasing reserves in existing fields and exploring in the important deeper beds.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90004©2002 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section, Laramie, Wyoming