NEWS FROM AAPG 2013
AAPG 2013 Discovery Thinking Forum reveals new wrinkles in unconventional plays
BY PRAMOD KULKARNI, Editor
PITTSBURGH – One of AAPG’s most popular sessions, the Discovery Thinking Forum focused this year on explorers, who have pioneered major unconventional resource plays in North America. The five speakers were:
- William Zagorski, VP Exploration, Range Resources: Marcellus Shale — Geologic Considerations for an Evolving North American Liquids-Rich Play
- John Roesink and Jason Anderson, Senior Research Geologists, Bill Barrett Corporation: Wasatch-Green River Resource Play, Utah
- Robert Spitzer, VP Exploration, Apache Canada: Horn River Devonian Shale Gas Discoveries in NE British Columbia
- Marshall Deacon, Senior Petrophysical Advisor and Robert Lieber, Geologic Advisor, Noble Energy Inc.: Integrated Reservoir Evaluation as a Means for Unlocking Maximum Resource Value in an Unconventional Reservoir: Niobrara Formation, DJ Basin, Colorado
- Shane Matson, Senior Geologist, Spyglass Exploration: The Mississippi Lime: Outcrop to Subsurface and the Evolution of a Play
William Zagorski, the geologist who pioneered the Marcellus shale play for Range Resources, explained how the evaluation of rock properties, through instruments such as the scanning electron microscope, revealed naturally occurring porosities that could be exploited via hydraulic fracturing.
John Roesnick explained how Bill Barrett Corporation is exploring the Tertiary lacustrine petroleum system in the Wasatch formation of the Uinta basin in the Rocky Mountain region. The 1,500 sq mi basin has been explored since the 1950s. But previous operators missed the multiple sub plays within the larger trend.
Robert Spitzer explained the process of successful exploration by learning from failures. Starting with Shell in Canada and later with Apache, his team has numerous failures before the spectacular successes of Lady Fern, Horn River and Liard plays.
Marshall Deacon and Robert Lieber made a presentation of how Noble Energy unlocked the Niobrara unconventional play through an integrated approach that included 3D seismic, core analysis and petrophysical analysis. Noble has built an in situ underground laboratory as a proving ground to further petrophysical understanding and test drilling and completion designs.
Shane Matson explained the evolution of the Mississippi Lime play that extends 30 million acres across Oklahoma and Kansas. According to Matson, the Nemaha ridge bisects the play into distinct dry gas and liquids-rich regions. One source of petrophysical information were core samples from the Tristate mining district. Matson said within a small region of the play, the sweet spots could be conventional, semi-conventional and unconventional. He warned that the stimulation design was critical as it would be easy to overstimulate a semi-conventional formation and understimulate an unconventional target.
The AAPG 2013 conference continues until May 22 with technical presentations, delegate meetings and technical exhibits.