The goal of this project is to quantitatively describe and understand the Bakken Formation in the Williston Basin by collecting and analyzing a wide range of parameters, including seismic and geochemical data, that impact well productivity/oil recovery.
Energy & Environmental Research Center, Grand Forks, ND 58202-9018
The Bakken Formation is rapidly emerging as an important source of oil in the Williston Basin. The formation typically consists of three members, with the upper and lower members being shales and the middle member being dolomitic siltstone and sandstone. Total organic carbon (TOC) within the shales may be as high as 40%, with estimates of total hydrocarbon generation across the entire Bakken Formation ranging from 200 to 400 billion barrels. While the formation is productive in numerous reservoirs throughout Montana and North Dakota, with the Elm Coulee Field in Montana and the Parshall area in North Dakota being the most prolific examples of Bakken success, many Bakken wells have yielded disappointing results. While variable productivity within a play is nothing unusual to the petroleum industry, the Bakken play is noteworthy because of the wide variety of approaches and technologies that have been applied with apparently inconsistent and all too often underachieving results. This project will implement a robust, systematic, scientific, and engineering research effort to overcome these challenges and unlock the vast resource potential of the Bakken Formation in the Williston Basin.
The EERC is conducting three major activities as part of this project: 1) comparison of well file data related to drilling, completion and stimulation field activities; 2) reprocessing of historical seismic surveys and examination of geomechanical properties; and 3) geochemical studies.
It is anticipated that this project will be coordinated with complementary, but separate, ongoing research efforts being conducted by the following:
The results of this study will provide a clearer understanding of how to efficiently maximize the exploitation of the vast Bakken resources in the Williston Basin. A detailed comparison of the predictive utility of various collected data sets within different geological settings of the overall Bakken play will be compiled to provide operators and stakeholders with fresh insight regarding the roles that geologic structure and geomechanics play in the design and operation of a successful Bakken well in North Dakota.
This project consists of four tasks that analyze and describe a wide range of well data parameters in the Bakken. A collaborative relationship with a field operator currently producing oil from the Bakken has been established. This relationship has provided the project with a wide variety of data on well drilling, completion, stimulation, and production for Bakken wells in western North Dakota. The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources (NDDMR) Oil and Gas Division has also provided field and production data.
Data was evaluated from two “type” areas of Bakken exploration and production within North Dakota so that the data could be compared, contrasted, and finally compiled into a geographic information system (GIS) database that is designed to support efficient interpretation of the data, enabling users to make comparisons between wells and/or areas of interest in a more effective manner.
EERC has implemented and completed an initial four-pronged approach to evaluate and compare key attributes of the Bakken play in two North Dakota counties, Mountrail and Dunn, in an effort to better understand the key components that are critical to the efficient development of the Bakken resource, and provide technically-based guidance to stakeholders regarding future exploitation efforts. The research program focused on four topic areas: geology, geochemistry, geomechanics, and engineering. The premise of the approach for this project was that by comparing key geological and engineering attributes of the two counties, insight would be gained that could improve the productivity of Dunn County wells and/or provide guidance in exploring and exploiting new subplays. The preliminary conclusions derived from these research activities include the following:
More information on the results of this research may be found in the final report, which presents and discusses the activities conducted over the course of the research program (see Additional Information below).
The results of these research activities have provided a greater understanding of the natural fracture network system of the Bakken Formation, which is critical to improving production performance; however, a more detailed geologic study is required to further support the preliminary conclusions. Therefore, EERC has recently been awarded a new award to continue with a second phase of work to expand on recently completed Bakken investigations. Second-phase work will include:
The possible relationship between the Bakken and the Three Forks Formations with respect to oil production, and what the nature of that relationship might be, will also be explored in the upcoming research effort derived from the newly awarded financial agreement.