The Waltman Shale Total Petroleum System encompasses about 3,400 square miles in the Wind River Basin Province, Wyoming, and includes accumulations of oil and associated gas that were generated and expelled from oil-prone, lacustrine shale source rocks in the Waltman Shale Member of the Paleocene Fort Union Formation. Much of the petroleum migrated and accumulated in marginal lacustrine (deltaic) and fluvial sandstone reservoirs in the Shotgun Member of the Fort Union, which overlies and intertongues with the Waltman Shale Member. Additional petroleum accumulations derived from Waltman source rocks are present in fluvial deposits in the Eocene Wind River Formation overlying the Shotgun Member, and also might be present within fan-delta deposits included in the Waltman Shale Member, and in fluvial sandstone reservoirs in the uppermost part of the lower member of the Fort Union Formation immediately underlying the Waltman. To date, cumulative production from 53 wells producing Waltman-sourced petroleum exceeds 2.8 million barrels of oil and 5.8 billion cubic feet of gas. Productive horizons range from about 1,770 feet to 5,800 feet in depth, and average about 3,400 to 3,500 feet in depth.
Formations in the Waltman Shale Total Petroleum System (Fort Union and Wind River Formations) reflect synorogenic deposition closely related to Laramide structural development of the Wind River Basin. In much of the basin, the Fort Union Formation is divided into three members (ascending order): the lower unnamed member, the Waltman Shale Member, and the Shotgun Member. These members record the transition from deposition in dominantly fluvial, floodplain, and mire environments in the early Paleocene (lower member) to a depositional setting characterized by substantial lacustrine development (Waltman Shale Member) and contemporaneous fluvial, and marginal lacustrine (deltaic) deposition (Shotgun Member) during the middle and late Paleocene.
Waltman Shale Member source rocks have total organic carbon values ranging from 0.93 to 6.21 weight percent, averaging about 2.71 weight percent. The hydrocarbon generative potential of the source rocks typically exceeds 2.5 milligrams of hydrocarbon per gram of rock and numerous samples had generative potentials exceeding 6.0 milligrams of hydrocarbon per gram of rock. Waltman source rocks are oil prone, and contain a mix of Type-II and Type-III kerogen, indicating organic input from a mix of algal and terrestrial plant matter, or a mix of algal and reworked or recycled material. Thermal maturity at the base of the Waltman Shale Member ranges from a vitrinite reflectance value of less than 0.60 percent along the south basin margin to projected values exceeding 1.10 percent in the deep basin west of Madden anticline. Burial history reconstructions for three wells in the northern part of the Wind River Basin indicate that the Waltman Shale Member was well within the oil window (Ro equal to or greater than 0.65 percent) by the time of maximum burial about 15 million years ago; maximum burial depths exceeded 10,000 feet. Onset of oil generation calculated for the base of the Waltman Shale member took place from about 49 million years ago to about 20 million years ago. Peak oil generation occurred from about 31 million years ago to 26 million years ago in the deep basin west of Madden anticline.
Two assessment units were defined in the Waltman Shale Total Petroleum System: the Upper Fort Union Sandstones Conventional Oil and Gas Assessment Unit (50350301) and the Waltman Fractured Shale Continuous Oil Assessment Unit (50350361). The conventional assessment unit primarily relates to the potential for undiscovered petroleum accumulations that are derived from source rocks in the Waltman Shale Member and trapped within sandstone reservoirs in the Shotgun Member (Fort Union Formation) and in the lower part of the overlying Wind River Formation. The potential for Waltman-sourced oil accumulations in fan-delta depos
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Chapter 5: Geologic Assessment of Undiscovered Petroleum Resources in the Waltman Shale Total Petroleum System,Wind River Basin Province, Wyoming