The Cretaceous Iles and Williams Fork Formations of the Mesaverde Group contain important reservoir and source rocks for basin-centered gas accumulations in the Piceance Basin of northwestern Colorado. The sandstones in these formations have very low permeability, so low that successful production of gas requires the presence of fractures. To increase gas production, the natural fracture system of these "tight gas sandstones" must be augmented by inducing artificial fractures, while minimizing the amount of formation damage due to introduced fluids. The Multiwell Experiment was undertaken to provide geological characterization, obtain physical property data, and perform stimulation experiments in the Iles and Williams Fork Formations. Three vertical wells and one follow-up slant well were drilled, logged, partially cored, tested for gas production, stimulated in various manners, and tested again. Drawing from published reports and papers, this review paper presents well log, core, and test data from the Multiwell Experiment while emphasizing the geological controls on gas production at the site. Gas production is controlled primarily by a set of regional fractures trending west-northwest. The fractures are vertical, terminating at lithologic boundaries within and at the upper and lower boundaries of sandstone beds. Fractures formed preferentially in sandstones where in situ stress and fracture gradients are lower than in shales and mudstones. The fractures cannot be identified adequately in vertical wellbores; horizontal wells are required. Because present-day maximum horizontal stress is aligned with the regional fractures, artificial fractures induced by pressuring the wellbore form parallel to the regional fractures rather than linking them, with consequent limitations upon enhancement of gas production.
Additional publication details
A review of the multiwell experiment in tight gas sandstones of the Mesaverde Group, Piceance Basin, Colorado