Geologic Controls on the Growth of Petroleum Reserves

Bulletin 2172-I

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The geologic characteristics of selected siliciclastic (largely sandstone) and carbonate (limestone and dolomite) reservoirs in North America (largely the continental United States) were investigated to improve our understanding of the role of geology in the growth of petroleum reserves. Reservoirs studied were deposited in (1) eolian environments (Jurassic Norphlet Formation of the Gulf Coast and Pennsylvanian-Permian Minnelusa Formation of the Powder River Basin), (2) interconnected fluvial, deltaic, and shallow marine environments (Oligocene Frio Formation of the Gulf Coast and the Pennsylvanian Morrow Formation of the Anadarko and Denver Basins), (3) deeper marine environments (Mississippian Barnett Shale of the Fort Worth Basin and Devonian-Mississippian Bakken Formation of the Williston Basin), (4) marine carbonate environments (Ordovician Ellenburger Group of the Permian Basin and Jurassic Smackover Formation of the Gulf of Mexico Basin), (5) a submarine fan environment (Permian Spraberry Formation of the Midland Basin), and (6) a fluvial environment (Paleocene-Eocene Wasatch Formation of the Uinta-Piceance Basin). The connection between an oil reservoir's production history and geology was also evaluated by studying production histories of wells in disparate reservoir categories and wells in a single formation containing two reservoir categories. This effort was undertaken to determine, in general, if different reservoir production heterogeneities could be quantified on the basis of gross geologic differences. It appears that reserve growth in existing fields is most predictable for those in which reservoir heterogeneity is low and thus production differs little between wells, probably owing to relatively homogeneous fluid flow. In fields in which reservoirs are highly heterogeneous, prediction of future growth from infill drilling is notably more difficult. In any case, success at linking heterogeneity to reserve growth depends on factors in addition to geology, such as engineering and technological advances and political or cultural or economic influences.

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USGS Numbered Series
Geologic Controls on the Growth of Petroleum Reserves
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Version 1.0
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Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
Central Energy Resources Team
iv, 53 p.
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USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title:
Chapter I of Geologic, Engineering, and Assessment Studies of Reserve Growth
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