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
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-
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-
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
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
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-
plying for a part of this acreage as
<> in lieu lands from the federal Gov-
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-
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
completed exploratory core drilling
on the extreme northeast edge of
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
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.
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
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
from 1,700-2,600 ft are: Pure, Un-
ion, Amax, Sinclair, Richfield, For-
est, Sun, and Daniel Meyer and
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_,
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
v\ v \\V \ """ 1,000-
\\\ V\ \Ax
\ Path of migration v 1,300-
of oil into upper Jn? '•
\ \ WOriginal oil-water contact?
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
to produce the oil from the bitu- Carter 21-24s-l4e 45 2,295
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
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
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
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
Ohio's Cambrian search spreads out promisin
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
spreading out and away from Mor- Robert C. Pettit will drill to base- leased in the township. An addi-
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
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