Morgantown, W.Va. —Using innovative seismic-based technologies developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a Kansas drilling company has discovered an untapped, 10-foot-thick oil zone in a developed Colorado reservoir. Close examination has shown that the reservoir has excellent fluid properties and that the oil zone has not been affected by drainage from surrounding wells.
Mull Drilling Company of Wichita, Kan., discovered the oil zone near Cheyenne Wells, Colo., using seismic technology designed to detect hydrocarbons from specific kinds of reservoir systems within the onshore continental United States. The project, which is funded by the Office of Fossil Energy’s Oil and Natural Gas Program, is improving seismic imaging and understanding of complex compartmentalized reservoirs, called karst reservoirs, and helping operators add to the Nation’s supply of oil and natural gas.
“The success of these seismic technologies demonstrates the potential for recovery of oil and natural gas from both old and new sources,” said Chandra Nautiyal, Project Manager at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). “Incremental steps such as this significantly contribute to our Nation’s energy security and independence.”
Karst reservoirs are characterized by low permeability, fluid-control problems, and low recovery rates. These reservoir systems are important because they account for 30 to 50 percent of the hydrocarbon production in the U.S. mid-continent region. Using the DOE-sponsored technologies can help operators better understand these complex reservoirs, enhance reservoir drainage, incrementally increase oil and natural gas production, and extend the productive life of mature fields in the United States.
The seismic technologies use new three-dimensional, multiple-tracing processes to improve hydrocarbon reservoir imaging, and characterization of karst reservoirs and natural fracture systems. Visualizing and mapping reservoir compartments can assist operators in identifying subsurface features that include natural fractures, voids, collapsed voids, and identifiable compartments isolated from the primary reservoir.
Mull Drilling Company’s success at producing oil at the Cheyenne Wells site marks the second such success by the company. In 2009, the company drilled a well into a 6-foot-thick tight formation in Gove County, Kan., that has produced more than 6,200 barrels of light oil, with no water, through February 2010.
A research team from the University of Kansas Center for Research, the Kansas Geological Survey, the University of Houston Allied Geophysical Laboratories, and the University of Oklahoma developed the seismic technologies. NETL manages the project under a cooperative agreement with the participants.