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The Impact of New Technology and Deep Drilling on Oil and Gas Development in the Uinta Basin

Gustason, Edmund R.
El Paso Exploration & Production, Denver, CO

     Since the first commercial gas well in the Uinta Basin was established at Ashley Valley in 1925, economic oil and gas development has been driven by several factors besides commodity prices. This paper summarizes the impact of using new technology and drilling deeper targets on the development of oil and gas resources in the Uinta Basin over the past 80 years.
     Like most basins in the Rocky Mountains, oil seeps led to the exploitation of shallow structures that were, in turn, drilled to deeper reservoirs. For example, recent deepening in Red Wash and Natural Buttes has found significant new gas reserves in the Cretaceous Mesa Verde, Blackhawk, and Mancos intervals.
     However, in addition to exploring for deeper targets, continued economic success in the Uinta Basin will require the application of new technologies in old fields. New formation evaluation tools, cores, image logs, detailed outcrop studies, and comprehensive reservoir characterization studies have helped operators better understand the impact of fractures, reservoir architecture, and permeability anisotropy for in-fill drilling and enhanced oil recovery in existing mature fields, such as Bluebell-Altamont, Monument Butte and Natural Buttes. Acquisition and interpretation of 3D seismic has improved success and economics in both structurally complex areas such as Peter's Point. In areas where thin, but widespread sandstone reservoirs occur, operators are drilling horizontal wells. Cooperative development of new technologies among operators and service companies will, hopefully, continue to improve geological and engineering efficiencies and lead to continued economic success during the next decade and beyond.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90071 © 2007 AAPG Rocky Mountain Meeting, Snowbird, Utah