Pacific Section AAPG, SPE and SEPM Joint Technical Conference

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Rio Vista Gas Field: History Of Development


With ultimate recoverable reserves of almost 4.0 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, Rio Vista gas field is the largest gas field in the Sacramento Basin of Northern California, and the largest dry gas field in the state. The field was discovered in 1936. The trap proved to be a large faulted dome, with superimposed stratigraphic traps. Initial development was slow, due to both an initial lack of market and then the onset of World War II. Multiple reports on the field over the years (1943, 1967, 1968, 1990) have chronicled the changes in understanding of the field as an increasing number of wells were drilled and the structural and stratigraphic complexities of the field were better understood. In 1965, most of the field was unitized and Amerada Hess became the first unit operator. The depth of the unit was set as being at 5,500 feet. This depth unitized both the Eocene Domengine and Margaret Hamilton sands, which together have produced the majority of the gas produced in the field. Additional pay zones have been added within the unit depths, including the Eocene Sidney, Markley, Nortonville and Capay. Natural gas zones found that were deeper than the unitized depths include the Paleocene McCormick sand, and the Upper Cretaceous Mokelumne River, Starkey, Petersen, K-1 and Winters sands. This paper emphasizes the activities at the field over the last two decades, since the 1990 paper in the national AAPG Treatise of Petroleum Geology, Atlas of Oil and Gas Fields book ‘Structural Traps III: Tectonic Fold and Fault Traps’.