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Puzzling Over the Next Jonah - the Wind River Basin?

Parrott, Ken
Bill Barrett Corporation, Denver, CO

As the search for the next Jonah or Pinedale anticline play continues, the Wind River Basin immediately comes to mind. The central part of the Wind River Basin has a thick Lance section that is very similar to the Lance at Jonah. Cumulative production from the Lance section at the prolific Cave Gulch Field is approximately 100 bcf. Current daily production averages 26 mmcfgd.

The USGS estimates that the Wind River Basin contains up to 500 tcf gas in place in the Lance and up to 150 tcf gas in place in the Ft. Union. At least six new federal units were formed in the last year and several were formed during the previous year, covering the central Wind River Basin like a jigsaw puzzle. The unit qualifying wells for these units will be new exploratory wells, primarily evaluating the Lance section. These wells will test new drilling and completion technology, including new drill bits, drilling fluids, and frac techniques. Lowering the drilling costs and increasing the production rates are keys to successfully developing the Lance natural gas resource economically.

Historically, production is the Wind River Basin has come from structural traps. Fields such as Madden, Frenchie Draw, and Waltman are located on large structural closures or structural noses. Will the next large field have a structural component, or will it be a more “classical” basin centered play? More than twelve 3-D seismic surveys, covering over 850 square miles have been acquired to aid in solving this puzzle. Several more are in the planning stage.

The Wind River Basin will be a very active area in 2004. The results of this round of exploration activity will be a big step in solving the puzzle of looking for another Jonah.