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Resource Potential and Best Practices for an Emerging Shale-Gas Play

Cretaceous Mancos Shale, Uinta Basin, Utah

A research team from the Utah Geological Survey and the University of Utah presented the results of their on-going work in the Uinta Basin to members of the petroleum industry recently. Meeting in Denver on June 28, the UGS and university geologists discussed their research on the oil and gas potential of the Cretaceous Mancos Shale, which lies several thousand feet below the surface in most of the Basin. Although oil and gas from shale have made energy headlines in many states, production from the Mancos will be a challenge, due in part to its thickness compared to other U.S. shale plays. About 20 geologists and engineers representing 10 companies with interests in the Uinta Basin attended the meeting. The research is being funded by the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, through a contract from the U.S. Department of Energy.

See http://geology.utah.gov/emp/shalegas/cret_shalegas/index.htm for more information about the project.

Shale Play Comparison: Uinta Basin vs. Williston Basin

Bakken Breakout

From the highway, Utah’s Uinta Basin has some striking similarities to oil producing areas in North Dakota – namely, there’s an abundance of new oil wells.

The evening view from a hill called Blue Bench is evidence. Lights from oil rigs and wells are scattered across an uneven topography. Once, that land seemed empty of everything but juniper tress, sage brush and sandstone.

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What are the roots of geobotany?

Plants can enlighten geologists as to the rock beneath. Geobotany, also called phytogeography, is the scientific study of the distribution of plants.

Climate is considered the primary control on plant life, but within a particular climatic region the rock beneath soil—known as the parent material of soil—is typically the key factor influencing the vegetation growing above. Rock ultimately determines soil moisture characteristics, nutrient availability, and concentrations of essential elements.

Therefore, certain plants are associated with specific rock types. Limestone, dolomite, shale, gypsum, chert, gabbro, rock salt, and ultramafic rocks (e.g., dunite, peridotite, serpentinite), for example, are known for their distinctive floras. Since before the advent of agriculture humans have used plants as a guide to find sought-after rocks and minerals. Today, the methodologies of geobotany are still applicable, practical, and even cost-effective to the geologist.

Dramatic changes in vegetation can occur with changes in geology. In mountain ranges of the Great Basin, big sagebrush growing on sandstone abruptly transitions to bristlecone pine on dolomite. The distribution of the California poppy in Arizona closely correlates with copper mineralization, which in turn corresponds with fault lines.

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Cretaceous Shale-Gas Resources

A new page has been added to the UGS web site.

Cretaceous Mancos Shale, Uinta Basin, Utah:
Resource Potential and Best Practices for an Emerging Shale-Gas Play

Funded by Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America

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SURVEY NOTES volume 42, number2

This Issue Contains:

  • Modeling Ground-Water Flow in Cedar Valley
  • Bringing Earth’s Ancient Past to Life
  • Ground-Water Monitoring Network
  • Energy News: Saline Water Disposal in the Uinta Basin, Utah
  • Glad You Asked: How many islands are in Great Salt Lake?
  • GeoSights: Fremont Indian State Park, Sevier County, Utah
  • Survey News
  • New Publications

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OPEN-FILE REPORT 538

OFR-538Applicability of carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery to reservoirs in the Uinta Basin, Utah
Zhiqiang Gu and Milind Deo

This Open-File Report presents the results of compositional simulations of CO2 floods of the Monument Butte Northeast unit and the Glen Bench field. Both fields produce oil from the Tertiary Green River Formation and both are currently in water flood. The Glen Bench field in the eastern Uinta Basin is an extension of the Wonsits Valley and Red Wash fields. Monument Butte Northeast in central Uinta Basin, is a waterflood unit within the Greater Monument Butte field.

The simulation study is a preliminary investigation of the CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) potential. The study attempts to: (1) estimate the post waterflood incremental oil recovery for the two fields using CO2 injection and water-alternating-gas injection, (2) determine CO2 utilization factors (mcf CO2/incremental barrel of oil recovered), and (3) determine the CO2 sequestration potential of EOR for the fields.

Crude oil analysis was performed using the simulated distillation procedure on a gas chromatographic column, and minimum miscibility pressures were calculated. All simulations were performed using the compositional simulator GEM, from the Computer Modeling Group, Calgary, Canada.

This work was funded by the Utah Geological Survey under the “Characterization of Utah’s Hydrocarbon Reservoirs and Potential New Reserves” program (FY 2007).

CD (13 p.)

OFR-538………. $6.95 (print on demand)……….$14.95 (CD)

GET IT HERE