Exploration and Production Technologies

USGS Western Basins Geology and Resource Studies


To assess the reservoir geology and the gas-in-place resource potential of the basins of northern Wyoming and southern Montana.

The geology associated with tight gas formations is especially difficult and poorly understood. This is particularly true for the lenticular formations. Prior geological studies of these basins have tended to de-emphasize the lenticular formations because of their low economic performance. This joint DOE/USGS project focuses on geologic evaluation of the western tight gas sands, including studies and assessments of stratigraphy, sedimentology, mineralogy, seismology, petrography, and thermal maturation.

Performer: U.S. Geological Survey

Reston, Virginia 20192

Project Impact:
Assessment of the natural gas resource potential of the low permeability formations in the Rocky Mountain states has already had an impact in upgrading our knowledge of this important region of the U.S. An accurate assessment is a fundamental first step in reducing the risk for exploration in these tight formations. These particular studies in northern Wyoming and southern Montana (focused most recently on the Big Horn and Crazy Mountain Basins) complete the multi-year effort undertaken by the U.S. Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory to cooperatively fund with the U.S. Department of Interior/Geological Survey, a reassessment of the natural gas resource potential as a guide for further exploration and development and increasing the nation’s gas supply.

The geologic characterization and gas resource assessment for the following basins was completed: Piceance, Uinta, Greater Green River, and Wind River, Big Horn and Crazy Mountain. This information is being used by USGS as input to the National Oil and Gas Assessment (NOGA) Project. Based on published results to date, the NOGA findings indicate 183 Tcf of undiscovered gas in these western basins, of which 92 percent of the gas is from unconventional resources. Preliminary estimates of gas-in-place in the Big Horn Basin, not yet published as part of the NOGA effort, are 334 Tcf.

Current Status and Remaining Tasks: The project has been completed, final reports received and there are no remaining tasks.  A CD containing the reports for the Crazy Mountain Basin is available through the NETL CD ordering system.

Project Start Date: May 24, 1993
Project End Date: June 30, 2001

DOE Contribution: $2,395,000
Performer Contribution: $0

Contact Information:
USGS - Ron Johnson (303-236-5546 or rcjohnson@usgs.gov)
NETL - William Gwilliam (304-285-4401 or william.gwilliam@netl.doe.gov)

Additional Information:
CD containing information from the Crazy Mountain Basin - NETL CD Ordering System 
Technical Report 1994