VIEWS: 13 PAGES: 6 POSTED ON: 12/10/2011
Thermal recovery may brin TODAY the American oil indus- try is in the process of a revolution of such magnitude that its implica- tions are yet to be thoroughly understood. This is the "quiet r e v o l u t i o n " which will double the proved oil reserves of the world within the next 10 years and will more than triple those reserves by the year 2060. The quiet revolution is the engineering application of thermal r e c o v e r y to low-gravity, viscous crude oils heretofore unrecoverable by c o n v e n t i o n a l and secondary- recovery techniques and to tremend- ous reserves of bituminous sand- stones. SIGNIFICANT b i t u m i n o u s sandstones a n d b i t u m i n o u s limestone Present state. U.S. recoverable deposits are located inside or on the edges of Utah's Uinta b a s i n . crude-oil reserves at the beginning Sunnyside deposits in C a r b o n County contain the greatest reserves of 1963 stood at 31.4 billion bbl. of such sands in the U.S. Fig. 1. This reserve figure is computed on the basis of a recovery of 29% of the original oil in place. If the About the author * . . producers, infusing a new vigor recovery rate could be increased to into the oil industry. 6 0 % , then we could double the present reserve estimates. Many oil U t a h ' s bituminous sandstones. companies now believe that this will There are two areas in Utah which be possible t h r o u g h the use of have bituminous sandstones of eco- thermal - recovery methods, espec- nomic significance with respect to ially since more than one-third of thermal-recovery m e t h o d s of oil these reserves exist in reservoirs at production. depths less than 3.000 ft where The most important area is within porosities and permeabilities tend to the Uinta basin in northeastern be high. Utah. This area lies in Uintah, Du- chesne. and Carbon counties. The second area is the Green River Thermal recovery. Thermal-re- Desert in Central Utah's Sevier. covery methods can be broken down ROBERT COVINGTON attended Wayne, and Garfield counties. into two categories: firefloodingand steam caustic injection systems. the University of Colorado, receiving The most important deposit in "The Frsricnown~atrempts to apply the BA degree in geology in 1947. the Uinta basin lies in the Sunnyside He attended the Colorado School of area of Carbon County. Next in "in situ" combustion in the U.S. Mines for 1 year before taking a was in Oklahoma in 1952 by Mag- order of importance are the asphal- position as geologist with Carter tic sandstones of the Asphalt Ridge nolia and S i n c l a i r , both working Oil Co. in 1948. In 1949 he worked independently. Since then California area, the Whiterocks Canyon area. with the Rotary Engineering Co. as has been the focal point for pilot- well-logging e n g i n e e r and from the Poor Springs area, Chapita plant and experimental work on 1950-'54 with Johnson & Bunn as Wells, and the D r a g o n - A s p h a l t "fireflooding." geologist. In 1954 he became a con- Wash area, all in Uintah County. sultan' in partnership with Craig Other areas of lesser importance are Since 1959, r e c e n t l y acquired the Deep Creek area. North Tabiona Caldwell. Covington is a member of data from the original pilot-plant the AAPG, Intermountain Associa- area. Lake Fork-Yellowstone River work on fireflooding has given a tion of Petroleum Geologists, and area, South Myton B e n c h area. tremendous boost to the thermal- Sigma Gamma Epsilon. Indian Canyon area, and the Raven recovery method which involves the Ridge area. use of steam injection into the res- ervoir. together with chemicals. the U.S. now. Leases with low- Sunnyside There are between 30 and 40 gravity oil sands at relatively shallow steam-drive projects under way in depths are being acquired by major The Sunnyside deposits are lo- THE OIL AND GAS JOURNAL • NOVEMBER 23, 1964 rn ndustry s "quiet revolution" cated in 13 and 14 south. 13 and 14 east, Carbon County. The tar sand is exposed throughout a strata- graphic interval of 1,000 ft and occurs in the Eocene Wasatch and lower Green River formations. The outcrop is along a northeast to north-trending escarpment which is the topographic expression of the south flank of the Uinta basin, with the formations dipping north to northeast from 3°-10°. Estimates of measured and indi- cated reserves range from 475.000,- 000 to 500,000.000 bbl. If recovery rates are as high as 70% of total reserves, the recoverable oil should approach 300,000,000 bbl. The Sunnyside reserves are adequate for large-scale strip mining, in part. Over one-half of the total reserves contain at least 9% bitumen by- weight. With reference to reservoir data, the b i t u m i n o u s sandstones range from 25-30% by volume. Permeability ranges from 150-650 md. Little or no water is present interstitially. The bitumen has a low sulfur content and contains a high percentage of aromatic hydrocar- bons and resins and would thus make good f e e d s t o c k for motor oils, lubricants, petroleum coke, and petrochemicals. The major draw- back to the area from the point of view of thermal recovery is the lack of a large source of fresh water for steam injection. Within the past year, the deposits have been core- AT COUNTY PIT, Uintah County, after the " h a r d p a n " on top of the Rim drilled by Shell Oil Co. and Atlantic Rock sand is removed by blasting a n d ripping, the bulk of the sandstone can be mined with a dozer and ripper Refining Co. Asphalt Ridge Asphalt Ridge and Rim Rock sand- Since the two Cretaceous sands The bituminous sandstones of the stones of the Mesaverde formation which are saturated are fairly uni- Asphalt Ridge area lie 3-4 miles and in the unconformably overlying form in saturation, water content, west of Vernal on Highway 40. Eocene Duchesne River formation. thickness, p o r o s i t y , permeability, The deposit is exposed along a The richest impregnation lies along and in areal extent, the thermal- series of northwest-southeast-trend- and close to unconformities. The oil recovery techniques can be used ing ridges and hogbacks. The area has an API gravity of 10° and is with a high degree of success. With extends about 11 miles in length extremely low in sulfur content. The reference to the saturation in the and is several miles in width. Proved Cretaceous sand which is saturated beds of the Duchesne River forma- reserves are 475.000.000 cu yd of is not as indurated as the sands at tion. problems will arise when using material containing 250.000,000 Sunnyside. In the County Pit area, stream or fireflooding due to the bbl of oil. Probable reserves are for example, after the "hardpan" on highly erratic depositional pattern about 500.000,000 bbl, with addi- top of the Rim Rock sand is re- of the individual beds, lower poros- tional reserves indicated in a down- moved by blasting and ripping, the ities and permeabilities, high silt con- dip. basinward direction. bulk of the sandstone can be mined tent, and a clay matrix. The bitumen is in the Cretaceous with a dozer and ripper. An ample supply of excellent THE OIL AND GAS JOURNAL . NOVEMBER 23, 1964 113 R 20 E R21 E R22 E available, it is believed that they were extremely encouraging. Detailed mapping and sampling was also done in the area by Shell, Husky Oil Co., and lately by the State of Utah, since the state is ap- • Vernal plying for a part of this acreage as <> in lieu lands from the federal Gov- ernment. Bitunnnous sands i/h Shell is now core drilling in the Asphalt Ridge area and other com- panies have e x p l o r a t i o n work planned there. Unitah County is still mining asphalt at the County Pit tract for local use. The product is so rich that it is mixed with dry- sand and is hauled by dump truck and rolled cold on road and drive- ways. The material makes an excel- G OJ lent surfacing material as the bitu- men is extremely t e n a c i o u s and GEOLOGIC M A P of A s p h a l t Ridge a r e a , Uintah C o u n t y . holds together well in hot weather. It is also very resistant to wear. quality water is available for both free of sulfur, a v e r a g i n g about mining and for steamflooding op- 0.09%. The sand grains are water- Whiterocks erations in the Asphalt Ridge area. wet, a factor which makes efficient The bituminous sandstones of the The water should require little or extraction possible. Whiterocks area are in 2 north. 1 no treatment. Electricity is also During 1954 and 1955, detailed east and 1 west, USM, 20 miles available, as is natural gas. A crude- mapping, core drilling, core analysis northwest of V e r n a l , along the oil pipeline lies 14 miles south. and engineering studies were made mountain front on the south flank Adequate housing and supply facil- of certain patented and unpatented of Uinta Mountains in northeastern ities are available at Vernal. The mining claims in the Asphalt Ridge Utah. bitumen content within the Creta- area by the author for Knickerbock- The bitumen fills the pore spaces ceous sands range from a few er Investment Co. and the Barnes and coats the sand1 grains of the gallons to as high as 53 gal/cu yd Engineering Co. of New York and Jurassic Navajo sandstone. This and probably averages 38 gal/cu Los Angeles. V a r i o u s mining formation strikes northeast-south- yd. Porosities range from a low of methods of extraction were ex- west and dips 60° to the southeast; 6 to as high as 38% and average plored. These properties were later it has a total thickness in the area about 34%. Water saturations range turned to Sohio Petroleum Co. and of about 1,000 ft and the tar sat- from 1 to as high as 20 gal/cu yd more detailed work was done on uration within the tilted formation of material and average 3 gal/cu t h e m , including the first in situ extends to a depth of about 550 ft. yd. Sand which averages 30 gal of f i r e f l o o d in Utah. The fireflood The proved reserves of this deposit. bitumen per cubic yard or less will was done within the Asphalt Ridge based upon core drilling, are 125.- probably produce 6 gal water per sandstone member of the Mesa- 000,000 bbl oil in place, with pos- cubic yard. The sands are noticeably verde, and while the results are not sible additional reserves of another ASPHALT SATURATION in Duchesne River f o r m a t i o n is v e r y d e f i n i t e l y related to the unconformities present in the a r e a . Cross profile of Asphalt Ridge a r e a . Fig. 3. 114 THE OIL AND GAS JOURNAL • NOVEMBER 23, 1964 "Designed right. ..built 120,000,000 bbl to the northeast OUR 30th and to the southwest of Whiterocks right to be worthy of Canyon. Federal oil and gas leases on both sides of the fee lands (which the WE CO mark of lie in the center of the deposit) are held by Shell. This firm has just quality." ANNIVERSARY completed exploratory core drilling on the extreme northeast edge of the prospect. The Navajo sandstone is a clean. fine - to - medium - grain sand with porosities ranging from 26-39%. Permeabilities range from 10 to 127 md. Water saturation in the bitu- minous zones ranges from 34 to Check these features 82% and averages 44%. Oil sat- uration ranges from 13 to 3 3 % . of the The base of the zone of bitumen saturation within the sand body WECO drops 375 ft in elevation from the east side of Whiterocks River to the southwest, along strike. It also ;; i drops 1,000 ft/mile in a southeast BUTTERFLY direction, perpendicular to the strike of the beds. Several tar seeps or if brea occur on the west side of the VA1VE Whiterocks River. They are related to fracturing within the Navajo. With regard to the bitumen saturation Because it is backed by the within the Navajo sand body, there great name of WECO which is no increase or decrease of any has meant outstanding qual- significance from the surface down- ity to the oil industry for ward to the bitumen-water contact. more than 30 years, you can ! Although the T e r t i a r y Green be fully confident of superior River formation has been proposed service from the WECO BUT- as a source for the bitumen in the TERFLY VALVE . . . the in- eolian sand-dune Navajo formation. dustry's newest and finest. there is no saturation along the un- The two-piece, non-exposed conformity between the Navajo and stem is Teflon* coated for per- the overlying Duchesne River for- manent lubrication, easier oper- mation, along which the bitumen or ation, and protection against oil would have had to migrate from corrosive action. the downdip, basinward-lying Green There's no stem or stem-to-disc Sizes: 2", 2V 2 " r 3", 4", 5", 6", 8", 10", and 12". River beds. There were no signifi- fasteners in the valve port to Working Pressure:: 175 psi. Valve can be in- cant shows of oil or dead-oil stain- interfere with streamlined flow. stalled between standard ASA 150 or WECO ing or bituminous sandstones found The disc has sufficient freedom lightweight flanges. They are ideal for handling in the Green River formation at 2 dry materials and slurries as well as liquids of movement to center in the Whiterocks drilled by Carter Oil Co. and gases. seat for full 360 degree seating in 6-ln-le, USM. and sealing. The resilient seats Structural conditions suggest a (our own special Hycar com- most butterfly valves. "O" ring seals deeper. Paleozoic Weber source. pound ) have integrally bonded between seat and stem provide addi- Overburden on fee land in White- plastic inserts to prevent col- tional protection against leakage. rocks Canyon ranges from 10-40 ft lapsing, ballooning flutter or These and many other features make and on the benches southwest and other seat difficulties. The plas- this the most advanced BUTTERFLY northeast of the river ranges from tic, instead of metal, back-up VALVE available today. Ask your 600-1.000 ft or more. The oil has inserts prevent corrosion be- WECO or Chiksan representative for an API gravity of 12° and is low in tween body and seat. complete information or write for sulfur. Molded flats in the resilient latest bulletin. The relative uniformity of bitu- seat (where the stem passes men saturation of the Navajo sand- stone of the Whiterocks area makes through) compress against matching flats on the disc to prevent leakage around the stem . . . a major problem with WECO DIVISION this prospect extremely attractive from the standpoint of either strip mining or thermal recovery. Due to > P . O . BOX 1 9 4 6 5 its thickness and the depth of sat- *0u Pont Registered Trademark H O U S T O N , TEXAS 7 7 0 2 4 BF-264 THE OIL A M D GAS JOURNAL • NOVEMBER 2 3 , 1964 116 from 1,700-2,600 ft are: Pure, Un- ion, Amax, Sinclair, Richfield, For- est, Sun, and Daniel Meyer and John Osmond. An example of the type of de- posit under consideration for steam injection in t h i s a r e a is a play centered around the old Standard Oil Co. of California 1 M o o n s h i n e Wash in 32-25s-15e. This hole was cored in the Coconino and recov- ered over 200 ft of bitumen or dead oil saturation at a depth ranging from 2,000 to 2,200 ft. Core analy- sis showed the permeabilities to average 50 md; porosity averaged 15%. Oil saturation within the zone averaged 44% while water satura- tions averaged 12%. Table 1 shows the saturations and areal extent of ASPHALT SATURATION OCCURS in the Jurassic N a v a j o sandstone the future thermal recovery poten- w h i c h has a total thickness of more t h a n 1,000 ft in the W h i t e - tial of this area from the Coconino rocks a r e a . Geologic m a p of a r e a . Fig. 4. sandstone. uration, this deposit has the unique ert of Central Utah. Legal problems distinction of having perhaps the Total area involved in the play There is a legal conflict between greatest recoverable reserves of oil includes T o w n s h i p s 24 and 31 the holders of oil and gas leases on of any bituminous sandstone on the south, Ranges 12 and 17 east. Shell federal lands and the owners of continent. Recoverable reserves ap- drilled stratigraphic core tests early federal bituminous sandstone leases. proach 132,000 bbl/acre, while the this year to the west of this play In the Sunnyside area in the fall Athabasca tar sands have recover- on the San Rafael swell, but have of 1963 the Bureau of Land Man- able reserves of 90,000 bbl/acre; recently d r o p p e d this particular agement held competitive bidding of course, the areal extent of the lat- acreage. They have now leased on federal lands. Bidding prices ter is many times greater. southwest of the swell toward Green were depressed since the notice was River. O t h e r companies holding so short that few companies were Green River Desert acreage on this play which involves given sufficient time to examine An active lease play has recently bituminous sand within the Coco- and evaluate the leases which were developed in the Green River Des- nino formation at depths ranging put up for bid. Further, oil com- Mean sea elevation Caldwell & Covington - 'iu Mean sea e;evation 8,000 No. 1 Menmon Ranch - I— Carter Oil Companv , 1rvl_, 6 Mn El. 7,064' TD 950' * r No. 2 Whiterocks' - ? .f El. 6,530' TD V 6 C • ' 7,000- V TV Second oil-water contact 1 6,300 WW N 5,000 v\ v \\V \ """ 1,000- o.ooo- o.ooo- \\\ V\ \Ax \ Path of migration v 1,300- of oil into upper Jn? '• \ \ WOriginal oil-water contact? 0- 1,000- A, Mancos; B, Frontier; C, Morrison; D, Curtis; E, Entrada; F, Carmei; G, Navajo; H, Chinle; I, Shinarump; J, Moenkopi; K, Phosphoria; L, Weber; M, Morgan. AA, Duchesne River; BB, Uinta River; CC, Green River; DD, Wasatch; EE, Mesaverde. 1H1 AUTHOR THINKS that the oil is of Pennsylvanian age and migrated from the Weber at a point where the svajo sandstone is faulted against the Weber. Cross profile of Whiterocks area. Fig. 5. OIL AND GAS JOURNAL • NOVEMBER 23, 1964 117 panies holding oil and gas leases Thermal-recovery potential from Coconino farr under the lands put up for bitumi- Table 1 • Tr< nous sandstone lease bid claimed, and perhaps with some justifica- Well name and number Location Saturation (ft) Den* ^County, tion, that their leases entitled them Superior 2-24s-13e ttJnt. Bo 100 2,2» to produce the oil from the bitu- Carter 21-24s-l4e 45 2,295 :S*eColu Shell 1 19-24s-16e 43 2,552 minous sands if they could do it Pan American 24-25 s-12e 20 2,408 through secondary - recovery tech- Texaco 14-25s-13e 120 2,176 niques. (i.e. thermal recovery). With Texaco 2 22-25s-14e 150 2,042 Standard Cal 1 Moonshine Wash Unit 32-25s-15e 200 2,250 regard to the State of Utah, the oil LaRuae 17-26s-13e (?) Nema and gas lease issued specifically ex- Tidewater 25-26s-13e 75 2.560 Kansas cludes any solid hydrocarbon which Carter 9-27s-12e 30 2.700 Superior 30-27s-13e 120 2,316 covery t it is necessary to remove through Texaco 32-27s-15e 50 2,320 Pool the use of heat, further stipulates Carter 2 35-27s-15e 100 2,000 Rokey ii that the lease only refers to oil in Murphy 4 14-28s-14e (*) •2,300 Tennessee Gas Trans 33-29s-12e 100 2,260 well is its native liquid state, gas, and drip Phillips 27-30s-16e 150 1,394 gravity. gas. Before any commercial devel- Tennessee Gas Trans 4-31s-12e 100 2,274 Standard California 13-31s-13e 50 513 Viola C opment can take place on bitumi- Superior 19-31s-15e (?) total der nous sands under federal lands it (*) Mobil 33-30''3S-16e i,46: of Sabet 140 will be n e c e s s a r y that the legal of Sabet •Shows. t A p p r o x i m a t e . problems involved be clarified. field. Th duction Conclusion stimulating e f f e c t u p o n the oil lead to extremely high recoveries CHI & The future of thermal recovery business. of oil. f oil. from formerly "depleted" reservoirs, One last mention of the possible This should lead to the oil indus- from the vast reserves of bitumi- use of the thermal systems would try's taking another look at such nous sands throughout the United be in fractured shale reservoirs such fractured reservoir fields such as States and from reservoirs with low- as those in the Ute Tribal Roosevelt Gusher, Bluebell, Joseph Smith, energy and low-gravity, v i s c o u s field where communication between County, and the Ute tribe Duchesne An crudes is tremendous. fields, all in the Unit basin. Fur- field wells within the fractured Green ther, the industry should consider Toole The oil industry is entering a River shale reservoir has been es- the effect of using this system as a from Mc cycle which should rejuvenate the tablished between wells more than secondary - recovery technique in tions at independent, stimulate major com- 1 mile apart. pany action, and improve the econ- There are tremendous possibil- such fields where high-pour-point Prolif omy of the industry. Judicious use ities for such a system, which, when crudes are produced such as at the et al. 1 of the system, when combined with combined with the natural gas and Red Wash field, Wonsits, Brennan 4w, y4 American ingenuity, will be a most oil within the fracture system could Bottoms, and others. End duction 1V4 mil Alber Ohio's Cambrian search spreads out promisin NW < the abov OHIO'S C a m b r i a n search is miles south of Delaware County oil. of 5,000 acres that the company bbl oil spreading out and away from Mor- Robert C. Pettit will drill to base- leased in the township. An addi- Moulton row County. Drillers are moving ment in Miami County's Staunton tional 3,000 acres are under options. north, south, and west from Trem- 2.538-48 Township. The 1 M. D. Knoop is Juniper has 4,000 acres more leased pealeau fields in the central por- to be in NW 4 South; the 1 Trojan in scattered areas of Central Ohio. tion of the state. Farms in NW 15. Both wells he 65 The Denver company plans further New permits to drill have been miles southwest of Delaware field, a work after the 10-well program is issued for one well in Sandusky Cambrian producer in Delaware finished up. County, one in Adams County, and County. A 12 two in Miami County. Of the 32 drilled b O h i o releases n e w tries. Inc new permits issued during the week Ten-well slate. Juniper Oil & Gas of Nov. 6. 15 were for wildcat tests. g e o l o g i c a l bulletins Section Co. of Denver will drill 10 wells to Bedford Emme Oil Co. will drill the San- look for C a m b r i a n oil in south The Department of Natural Re- I' dusky County wildcat at 2 J. Cun- B 1 o o m f i e 1 d Township. Morrow Targ sources, Division of Geological Sur- Lower ningham in SE 29, Ballville Town- County. vey, State of Ohio, Columbus, has ship. Location is 6 miles cast of Co. has Operator is moving in cable tools released two new geological bulle- Trenton gas production in an old Appalacl to drill 1 Hulse in SE^9 and 1 Morris tins. area. Mount Gilead field lies 40 Martin. Jr., in SW 15. Armstrong Report of Investigations No. 51 miles southeast. Drilling Co. has contract for these. Gas-co deals with the geology of the upper Cabot Corp. will drill a Cambrian These locations were selected on Niagaran and Cayugan stratigraphy at test at 1 A. Bailey in s o u t h e r n basis of gravity and seismic work. of northeastern Ohio and adjacent An A Ohio's Adams County at 1 A. Three more wells will be drilled areas. It is authored by John R- South L Bailey in the VM Survey 2663, Jer- soon and five early in 1965. The Ulteig. densate ferson Township. This one is 90 Hulse and Martin leases are part Report of Investigations No. 52, J. P. 118 THE OIL A N D GAS JOURNAL • NOVEMBER 2 3 , 196* THE OIL
"Heavy Oil Resources of Utah Uinta Basin Deposits"