--> The Conasauga Shale Research Consortium (CSRC) Will Attempt to Unlock the Secrets of Appalachia’s Newest Unconventional Reservoir

2019 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting:
Energy from the Heartland

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The Conasauga Shale Research Consortium (CSRC) Will Attempt to Unlock the Secrets of Appalachia’s Newest Unconventional Reservoir


In 2013, the Bruin Exploration 1 Young well, in Lawrence County, KY, was the first well to target the Cambrian Conasauga Group shales as an unconventional oil and gas (UOG) reservoir. Since 2013, five additional Conasauga shale UOG wells have been drilled. Although most of these wells encountered oil and/or gas, the volumes produced during testing were less than expected. The play appears to be a technical success (oil and gas was found in the Rogersville Shale of the Conasauga Group), however its economic viability remain to be proven. With funding from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the Conasauga Shale Research Consortium (CSRC) intends accelerate the development of the Rogersville and other Conasauga shales as UOG plays by gathering additional data and testing different well completion designs in both numerical models and in a real-world application at a well in Lawrence County. The CSRC is being led by a team from the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky, and includes geologists and petroleum engineers from West Virginia University (WVU) and the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, along with the cooperation of five industry partners. The CSRC will compile all available data on the Conasauga, including data acquired under data-sharing agreements from operators of the six current Rogersville Shale UOG wells. These data will be augmented by the collection of additional samples and data during the drilling of a horizontal well lateral into the Rogersville in Lawrence County. Analyses of the Rogersville Shale will include thermal maturity, organic content, lithology, provenance of the clays within the unit, major- and trace-elemental analysis, scanning electron microscope imaging of pore types, hydrocarbon and noble gas geochemistry, isotopic chemistry of natural gases, lithologic and geomechanical analyses for developing effective completion strategies, long-term (1-year) subsurface production monitoring through fiber-optic sensors, and detailed mapping of the Conasauga Group utilizing well data, reflection seismic profiles, and remote sensing (potential fields) data. All of this compiled, shared, and recorded/acquired data will be combined with extensive proprietary datasets acquired by WVU for thousands of well completion parameters and production data from three other UOG shale plays; the Marcellus and Utica Shales of the Appalachian Basin, and the Wolfcamp-A shales from the Permian Basin. Using data analytics and machine learning techniques, new and innovative completion designs and a “best practices” protocol will be built for attaining maximum efficiency and recovery from future Rogersville UOG wells. All of the generated data and the interpreted results will be released to the public in a final report at the end of the project.