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Horizontal Drilling to Enhance Gas Production in Upper Devonian Sandstones, Washington County, Pennsylvania: A Case Study

Dan A. Billman¹, James Hoover², and Brian Cheeseman²
¹Billman Geologic Consultants, Inc., Mars, PA, [email protected]
²Phoenix Energy Productions, Inc., Freeport, PA, [email protected]

In 2010, Phoenix Energy Productions, Inc. and its partners became the first Pennsylvania oil and gas company in the history of the industry to successfully complete horizontal natural gas production wells in the traditional Upper Devonian sandstone reservoirs of Pennsylvania.

Numerous companies had considered drilling horizontally within low permeability, compartmentalized natural gas clastic reservoirs. With the advent and advancement of horizontal drilling technologies, the equipment became available to bring the idea of horizontally drilling in the Upper Devonian Sandstone reservoirs to the Appalachian Basin. In 2009 Phoenix Energy began the process of making this a reality and in 2010 drilled the first two horizontal wells in the Upper Devonian Sandstones. In 2011, Phoenix Energy drilled the third of its horizontal natural gas production well.

After careful reservoir mapping and cross-section analysis the Upper Devonian Gantz and Bayard Sandstones, in Phoenix’s California-area, Washington County field were targeted. Phoenix Energy proceeded to drill three horizontal wells. Prior to drilling, Phoenix Energy realized that although the equipment was available for horizontal drilling, it was an entirely different endeavor to drill horizontally within an approximately 20 foot thick compartmentalized sandstone versus an organic rich shale with a thickness of 70 foot or greater. This assumption certainly played out while drilling the wells. The “known” geologically conditions, prior to drilling, and what we now “know” about the reservoir conditions will be presented. Engineering and operational data related to the successful completion of the three wells will be discussed.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90154©2012 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting, Cleveland, Ohio, 22-26 September 2012