A Systems Approach to Identifying Exploration and Development Opportunities in the Illinois Basin: Digital Portifolio of Plays in Underexplored Lower Paleozoic Rocks [Part 1 of 2]

Beverly Seyler, David Harris, Brian Keith, Bryan Huff, Yaghoob Lasemi

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingTechnical report

Abstract

This study examined petroleum occurrence in Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian reservoirs in the Illinois Basin. Results from this project show that there is excellent potential for additional discovery of petroleum reservoirs in these formations. Numerous exploration targets and exploration strategies were identified that can be used to increase production from these underexplored strata. Some of the challenges to exploration of deeper strata include the lack of subsurface data, lack of understanding of regional facies changes, lack of understanding the role of diagenetic alteration in developing reservoir porosity and permeability, the shifting of structural closures with depth, overlooking potential producing horizons, and under utilization of 3D seismic techniques. This study has shown many areas are prospective for additional discoveries in lower Paleozoic strata in the Illinois Basin. This project implemented a systematic basin analysis approach that is expected to encourage exploration for petroleum in lower Paleozoic rocks of the Illinois Basin. The study has compiled and presented a broad base of information and knowledge needed by independent oil companies to pursue the development of exploration prospects in overlooked, deeper play horizons in the Illinois Basin. Available geologic data relevant for the exploration and development of petroleum reservoirs in the Illinois Basin was analyzed and assimilated into a coherent, easily accessible digital play portfolio. The primary focus of this project was on case studies of existing reservoirs in Devonian, Silurian, and Ordovician strata and the application of knowledge gained to future exploration and development in these underexplored strata of the Illinois Basin. In addition, a review of published reports and exploration in the New Albany Shale Group, a Devonian black shale source rock, in Illinois was completed due to the recent increased interest in Devonian black shales across the United States. The New Albany Shale is regarded as the source rock for petroleum in Silurian and younger strata in the Illinois Basin and has potential as a petroleum reservoir. Field studies of reservoirs in Devonian strata such as the Geneva Dolomite, Dutch Creek Sandstone and Grassy knob Chert suggest that there is much additional potential for expanding these plays beyond their current limits. These studies also suggest the potential for the discovery of additional plays using stratigraphic concepts to develop a subcrop play on the subkaskaskia unconformity boundary that separates lower Devonian strata from middle Devonian strata in portions of the basin. The lateral transition from Geneva Dolomite to Dutch Creek Sandstone also offers an avenue for developing exploration strategies in middle Devonian strata. Study of lower Devonian strata in the Sesser Oil Field and the region surrounding the field shows opportunities for development of a subcrop play where lower Devonian strata unconformably overlie Silurian strata. Field studies of Silurian reservoirs along the Sangamon Arch show that opportunities exist for overlooked pays in areas where wells do not penetrate deep enough to test all reservoir intervals in Niagaran rocks. Mapping of Silurian reservoirs in the Mt. Auburn trend along the Sangamon Arch shows that porous reservoir rock grades laterally to non-reservoir facies and several reservoir intervals may be encountered in the Silurian with numerous exploration wells testing only the uppermost reservoir intervals. Mapping of the Ordovician Trenton and shallower strata at Centralia Field show that the crest of the anticline shifted through geologic time. This study illustrates that the axes of anticlines may shift with depth and shallow structure maps may not accurately predict structurally favorable reservoir locations at depth.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniv. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL (United States)
StatePublished - 2008

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