Core Center News: Massive Core Donations Spurred by Low Oil Prices

by Michael Vanden Berg

New shelving installed across the main aisle to accommodate new donations.

In spring 2020, the oil and gas industry experienced reduced petroleum demand and crashing oil prices because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies drastically cut budgets, reduced spending, and laid off many workers. During these down times, many companies look to donate legacy core and cuttings material to save money on storage fees. The Utah Geological Survey’s Utah Core Research Center (UCRC) has often been the beneficiary of such downsizing, and 2020 was no exception. Below we highlight several of the large donations received in 2020. As always, core and cuttings can be viewed by appointment at the UCRC.

Finley Resources – Green River Formation (and Wasatch) core from 13 wells located across the Uinta Basin (confidential until 2023).

• Berry Petroleum – Green River Formation core from 1 well, cuttings from 105 wells in southwest Uinta Basin, and cuttings from 5 wells in Garfield County.

• Dominion Energy – core from 39 wells mostly in the Clay Basin and Coalville gas storage fields, as well as core from 8 wells in the Leroy gas storage field in Wyoming.

Strata Minerals – core from 9 shallow wells that targeted phosphate resources (Park City Formation) north of Vernal, Utah.

• Various operators – core from 4 wells that captured the upper Paradox Formation in southeastern Utah.

• Epic Oil – core from 2 wells that captured the PR Springs oil sand deposit.

• Twenty near-surface cores donated by a local engineering firm taken at various dam sites around the state.

• Legacy Utah material from the Oklahoma Geological Survey – core from 15 wells scattered throughout Utah and cuttings from 3 additional wells.

Amoco core from Great Salt Lake

Amoco Production Company had an aggressive exploration program in Utah during the 1970s and early 1980s. The company drilled and cored several wildcat wells all over the state investigating potential oil and gas targets, including wells in what is now Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument and several wells in Great Salt Lake. After the crash in oil prices in the mid-1980s, Amoco donated their entire core collection to the Oklahoma Geological Survey. Recently, the Utah Geological Survey was able to repatriate the Utah material back to the Utah Core Research Center (UCRC) in Salt Lake City, making this unique collection available to the public for the first time. This collection contains many very interesting cores, but one in particular caught our eye during the inventory process. We found core from 10,400 feet from the State of Utah “E” well, drilled in 1979. This well was drilled in the middle of the south arm of Great Salt Lake!  At this depth, the drillers were well into crystalline “basement” rocks and recovered several feet of beautiful gneiss. This unique core is just one of several extraordinary cores that now has a permanent home at the UCRC.