The Lisburne Group, a thick carbonate-rock unit of Mississippian and Pennsylvanian age, is one of the most widespread potential reservoir-rock units in northern Alaska. A comprehensive review of the Lisburne in the subsurface of the eastern Arctic Slope indicates attractive reservoir characteristics in a favorable source and migration setting where numerous trapping mechanisms appear to be available. Evaluation of this group as a potential exploration objective is particularly timely because of impending offshore sales in the Beaufort Sea and current exploration programs under way in the Prudhoe Bay area and the Naval Petroleum Reserve.
Dolomite and sandstone have been identified as reservoir rocks. Oolitic grainstone is a common rock type, but observations indicate little reservoir potential owing to complete void filling by calcite cement. The most important reservoir rock as judged by thickness, areal extent, and predictability is microsucrosic (10 to 30µ) dolomite of intertidal to supratidal origin. It is present throughout the Lisburne and is most abundant near the middle of the sequence. Northward it decreases in thickness from 1,000 ft (300 m) to less than 100 ft (30 m). Porosity of the dolomite as determined in selected wells averages between 10 and 15% and attains a maximum of slightly more than 25%. Net thickness of reservoir rocks (i.e., rocks with greater than 5% porosity) ranges in these wells from 40 to 390 ft (40 to 120 m). Oil shows are common, and drill-stem tests have yielded as much as 1,600 bbl/day of oil and 22 MMcf/day of gas in the Lisburne pool of the Prudhoe Bay field and as much as 2,057 bbl/day of salt water outside the field area. The occurrence of dolomite over such a large area makes its presence in the offshore Beaufort Sea and adjacent Naval Petroleum Reserve 4 fairly certain. The presence of sandstone as thick as 140 ft (40 m) in the middle and upper part of the Lisburne in two coastal wells suggests that larger areas of sandstone may be found on the north in offshore areas. Shows of oil and gas and a saltwater flow of 1,470 bbl/day have been recorded from this sandstone facies.
Shales of Permian and Cretaceous ages unconformably overlie the Lisburne, providing adequate sealing beds above potential reservoirs. Impermeable limestone (completely cemented grainstone) and thin beds of shale may serve as seals within the Lisburne, but the possibility of fractures in these units may negate their sealing capability.
The most favorable source rock for Lisburne hydrocarbons appears to be Cretaceous shale that unconformably overlies the Lisburne east of Prudhoe Bay. This shale is reported to be a rich source rock and is the most likely source for the entire Prudhoe Bay field. A source within the Lisburne or within the underlying Kayak Shale is postulated for oil shows in the southernmost Lisburne wells. This postulated source may be in a more basinal facies of the Lisburne and may be similar to dark shale in the upper Lisburne in thrust slices to dark shale in the upper Lisburne in thrust slices in the Brooks Range. Coal in the underlying Endicott Group is a possible source for dry gas. At present, much of this coal probably is in a gas-generating regime downdip from the Prudhoe Bay field.
Stratigraphic traps involving the Lisburne Group may have resulted from widespread Permian and Cretaceous unconformities. Structural traps related to normal faulting may be present along the trend of the Barrow arch, and faulted anticlines are numerous in the foothills of the Brooks Range. Combination traps are possible along the trend of the Barrow arch.
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Lisburne Group (Mississippian and Pennsylvanian), potential major hydrocarbon objective of Arctic Slope, Alaska