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Drilling History of the Piceance Basin


Kurt Reinecke

Bill Barrett Corporation, Denver, CO


Among the factors that have driven the development of hydrocarbons in the Piceance Basin and adjacent Douglas Creek Arch has been the type of hydrocarbon, an increased understanding of the reservoir and new completion technology. Exploration for hydrocarbons, specifically oil, began in the Piceance in the early 1900’s near obvious surface features like the Rangely Anticline, DeBeque Anticline and White River Dome. In the 1920’s exploration continued, testing the Wasatch at Piceance Creek Dome and the Mesaverde at the Divide Creek anticline. Development of the Weber oil resource at Rangely Field accounted for 90% of the activity that occurred between 1939 and 1949, with step out shallow Wasatch gas development occurring at Piceance Creek Dome. During the 1950’s Rangely continued to be developed, with exploration occurring directly south on the Douglas Creek Arch for Dakota and shallower Mancos ‘B’ reservoirs. The 1960’s saw the sustained development of the Mesaverde marine reservoirs, in the Plateau Creek area, Divide Creek, Rulison and the Wasatch reservoirs on Piceance Creek Dome. Rangely and the Douglas Creek Arch continued to see increasing numbers of wells, a trend that continued into the 1970’s and beyond. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s drilling programs in Rulison developed the fluvial part of the Mesaverde and the shallow Wasatch. Development drilling grew from this nucleus in the 1980’s, first westward and then eastward in the 1990’s. In 2000, the Mesaverde basin centered gas play is the focus of industry attention throughout the central part of the Piceance basin.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90004©2002 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section, Laramie, Wyoming