--> Powder River Basin unearthed...will it be the next big shale play?

2019 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition:

Datapages, Inc.Print this page

Powder River Basin unearthed...will it be the next big shale play?


Powder River Basin unearthed…will it be the next big shale play?

The Powder River Basin is a deep asymmetric intermontane basin. That is about 250 miles long and 100 miles wide, located in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana. Since its initial discovery in the late 1800’s, the basin has yielded over 3,000 Mmbo and 1,825 Bcf from conventional methods. The basin appeared to be headed on a decline. However, the basin is going through a rebirth with production increasing from 16,000 bopd and 1.5 Bcfpd in 2010 to 108,000 bopd and 0.7 Bcfpd in 2018. The advent of horizontal drilling targeting many of the basin’s previously uneconomical and tight Upper Cretaceous reservoirs, such as the Mowry and Niobrara mudrocks, tight sandstone reservoirs of the Frontier, Turner, Shannon, Sussex, Parkman and Teapot has been the main reason for the rebirth. The Wyoming part of the basin has attracted a lot of attention in recent years as investors and operators seek out other onshore Permian-like plays that offer up multiple stacked pay zones. This surge in interest has been further galvanized with over 1,300 horizontal wells completed since 2011, significant rise in permit to drill applications and a 3-fold productivity growth yield since 2013. Additionally, Powder River Basin well economics is on par with Wolfcamp Midland and Bakken plays hovering around $35/bbl in some parts of the basin. Several major operators continue to commit a sizeable portion of their capital budget to the further development of the area. The most targeted reservoirs to date have been mainly tight sandstone reservoirs, namely the Turner and Parkman sandstones, however, improved well designs, enhanced productivity results and further basin delineation has led to the development of the other Upper Cretaceous reservoirs. To date, the main issue limiting the complete delineation of these reservoirs has been highly variable well performance which is attributed to reservoir heterogeneity. Data quality and timing as there is limited horizontal well completion and production data to tie with subsurface petrophysical data. This study evaluates the horizontal stacked pay potential of the Upper Cretaceous reservoirs by integrating detailed subsurface, economic, production, and completion data from each of the defined intervals to aide in identifying production drivers and inhibitor and sweet spots. The result is a better prediction of the total hydrocarbon resource and future production growth potential of the targeted Upper Cretaceous reservoirs in the area.