Possible continuous-type (unconventional) gas accumulation in the Lower Silurian "Clinton" sands, Medina Group and Tuscarora Sandstone in the Appalachian Basin; a progress report of the 1995 project activities

Open-File Report 96-42

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INTRODUCTION: In the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) 1995 National Assessment of United States oil and gas resources (Gautier and others, 1995), the Appalachian basin was estimated to have, at a mean value, about 61 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of recoverable gas in sandstone and shale reservoirs of Paleozoic age. Approximately one-half of this gas resource is estimated to reside in a regionally extensive, continuous-type gas accumulation whose reservoirs consist of low-permeability sandstone of the Lower Silurian 'Clinton' sands and Medina Group (Gautier and others, 1995; Ryder, 1995). Recognizing the importance of this large regional gas accumulation for future energy considerations, the USGS initiated in January 1995 a multi-year study to evaluate the nature, distribution, and origin of natural gas in the 'Clinton' sands, Medina Group sandstones, and equivalent Tuscarora Sandstone. The project is part of a larger natural gas project, Continuous Gas Accumulations in Sandstones and Carbonates, coordinated in FY1995 by Ben E. Law and Jennie L. Ridgley, USGS, Denver. Approximately 2.6 man years were devoted to the Clinton/Medina project in FY1995. A continuous-type gas accumulation, referred to in the project, is a new term introduced by Schmoker (1995a) to identify those natural gas accumulations whose reservoirs are charged throughout with gas over a large area and whose entrapment does not involve a downdip gas-water contact. Gas in these accumulations is located downdip of the water column and, thus, is the reverse of conventional-type hydrocarbon accumulations. Commonly used industry terms that are more or less synonymous with continuous-type gas accumulations include basin- centered gas accumulation (Rose and others, 1984; Law and Spencer, 1993), tight (low-permeability) gas reservoir (Spencer, 1989; Law and others, 1989; Perry, 1994), and deep basin gas (Masters, 1979, 1984). The realization that undiscovered gas in Lower Silurian sandstone reservoirs of the Appalachian basin probably occurs in a continuous accumulation rather than in conventionally trapped, discrete accumulations represents a significant departure from the 1989 National Assessment (Mast and others, 1989; deWitt, 1993). In 1989, a direct assessment (field-size distributions required for play analysis were unavailable) of the Lower Silurian sandstone play gave, at a mean value, about 1.7 TCF of gas. The 1995 estimate (~30 TCF of gas) is so much greater than the 1989 estimate (~1.7 TCF of gas) because of the interpreted continuous nature of the accumulation and the assessment methodology applied. The methodology for continuous hydrocarbon accumulations assumes that the reservoirs in the accumulation are gas-saturated and takes into account: 1) estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) per well probability distributions, 2) optimum area that a well can drain (spacing), 3) number of untested drill sites having the appropriate spacing area, 4) success ratio of previously drilled holes, and 5) risk (Schmoker, 1995b). Davis (1984), Zagorski (1988, 1991), and Law and Spencer (1993) were among the first petroleum geologists to suggest that gas in the 'Clinton' sands and Medina Group sandstones was trapped in a basin-centered/deep basin accumulation. They recognized many of the earmarks of a basin-centered/deep basin accumulation such as low-permeability reservoirs, abnormally low formation pressure, coalesced gas fields, gas shows or production in most holes drilled, low water yields, and a general lack of structural control on entrapment. Ryder (1995) adopted this interpretation by defining four continuous-type gas plays (6728-6731) in the 'Clinton' sands-Medina Group interval (fig.1). Play 6728 (Clinton/Medina sandstone gas high potential) covers a 17,000 sq mi region of western New York, northwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and a small part of westernmost West Virginia that is very favorable for future gas resources (fig.1). Also, this play includes a l

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Possible continuous-type (unconventional) gas accumulation in the Lower Silurian "Clinton" sands, Medina Group and Tuscarora Sandstone in the Appalachian Basin; a progress report of the 1995 project activities
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U.S. Geological Survey,
iv, 82 p. :ill., maps (some col.); 28 cm.