--> --> The multiple undeveloped petroleum plays in Nevada

AAPG Pacific Section and Rocky Mountain Section Joint Meeting

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The multiple undeveloped petroleum plays in Nevada


Nevada is a challenging frontier area with high upside potential. Multiple hydrocarbon plays, each with good source rocks, ranging in age from early Paleozoic to Miocene, are present. Miocene strata in several Tertiary basins in southwestern Nevada have yielded multiple shows in the few wells drilled and a sub-commercial discovery in Gabbs Valley. Significant reserves should be available with additional exploration efforts. West central Nevada has 2 stratigraphic sequences of Triassic strata (offshore and shelf), each with known source rocks. The offshore strata have been thrust over the shelf rocks, providing an abundance of conventional traps. In northwestern Nevada, a rank frontier area requiring more work, there are indications of hydrocarbon potential in Permian, Triassic, Cretaceous, and Miocene strata. The Cretaceous Newark Canyon Formation in the Pine Valley area, possibly present in adjacent basins, needs further testing. Thousands of feet of proven source rocks are present in both the western siliceous clastic strata and eastern carbonate strata in the Carlin Pinon Range where the western strata are thrust over the eastern strata, providing a sub-thrust play. There are sub-commercial discoveries in both the Eocene Elko Shale and the Lower Miocene Humboldt Formation found in Elko County of northeastern Nevada. The lateral extent of these basins is presently not well defined. The Mississippian Chainman Shale resource system of central eastern Nevada has received the most attention and, as a result, is the best known of the various petroleum systems. It offers tremendous potential in conventional vertically drilled prospects, but possibly also as a shale resource play. The Eocene Sheep Pass Formation, known primarily in Railroad and White River Valleys, produces at Eagle Springs Field, the first production found in Nevada in 1954. The thick Permian strata, found in the Butte Mountains and extending to the north and south, deserves additional study, based on the very few wells that provide minimal information. There are indications of self-sourcing carbonate reservoirs in the Permian strata. Finally, the deep Tertiary basins in the Las Vegas area, as well as the pre-Tertiary strata there, should be studied more thoroughly.