Fall Symposium – September 22, 2011

Title: 2011 RMAG/PTTC Fall Symposium: The Bakken-Three Forks Petroleum System in the Williston Basin

Keynote Speaker: Julie LeFever

Location: Denver Marriott City Center

Publication: The Outcrop, November 2011, p. 16-18

The 374 attendees of this September 22nd meeting were treated to 12 outstanding presentations on these important reservoirs.

Anne Grau of Fidelity Exploration and Production set the tone for the entire day with an excellent paper on the characterization of the Bakken reservoir at Parshall Field, one of the most important discoveries in the USA in the last few years. Eryn Bergin of QEP Resources followed up with a detailed discussion of the controls on the eastern commercial limit of Bakken production at Parshall field and within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The limit can be determined by evaluating existing production data, mudlogs from laterals, and calculated water saturations from wireline logs.

Stephan Nordeng of the North Dakota Geological Survey demonstrated variations in production as a function of structural setting. Production statistics from the earliest phase of horizontal drilling show that this technology compensates for the lack of structurally induced fracturing when wells target the oil-saturated, upper Bakken Shale.

Dan Jarvie of Worldwide Geochemistry reviewed the origin of the oil at Parshall Field and the unique generation/expulsion/migration history of the accumulation.

Bob Coskey of Rose Exploration explained his perspective on the origin of Bakken oils. His research on burial history modeling suggests that generation began in the central part of the Williston basin approximately 50 Ma, spread laterally in a “wave-like” manner, and reached the current Bakken play area at approximately 5 Ma.

Dan Kohlruss of the Saskatchewan Geological Survey reviewed the drilling and development of the Bakken Formation in neighboring Saskatchewan, including the large Viewfield producing area. Well counts have gone from 75 wells in 2005 to over 1900 today.

Keynote speaker Julie LeFever of the North Dakota Geological Survey discussed the history of Bakken exploration and development in the Williston Basin then showed details of the proposed new standard reference sections and formalization of the Bakken stratigraphic nomenclature. Due to continuing confusion, the NDGS has proposed the term “Sanish” be abandoned and be replaced by the term Pronghorn Member for the lowest member of the Bakken.

The afternoon session kicked off with two papers on the Three Forks Formation. Rich Bottjer of Cirque Resources presented maps and cross sections showing local and regional correlations of the Lower Bakken and Upper Three Forks, including the newly defined Pronghorn Member. Based on these stratigraphic relationships, he interprets the upper Three Forks–Pronghorn contact as a sequence boundary.

David Hume of Canadian Discovery reviewed the paleogeography of the Three Forks and proposed that the lower part of the Three Forks was deposited in an environment similar to the present-day Lake Eyre in the central Australia, whereas the marine influenced upper Three Forks was deposited in a setting similar to Shark Bay, Australia.

John Stroud with Whiting Petroleum reviewed the source and reservoir characteristic of the lower Lodgepole, a generally underappreciated portion of the Bakken petroleum system. The False Bakken and Scallion members may become significant contributors to Williston production in the future.

Steve Sonnenberg of Colorado School of Mines reviewed activity in the eastern Montana portion of the Williston where initial well results from the Bakken are encouraging. All of the components for an extensive productive fairway are present.

The symposium ended with an outstanding presentation on the Alberta Bakken-Exshaw petroleum system by Brian Zaitlin of Native American Resource Partners/Kainai Energy in Calgary. Little information has been released on this exciting play but this presentation covered the source reservoir system and the tectonic history of the area.

The symposium was presented in tandem with the release of a new RMAG guidebook “The Bakken Three Forks Petroleum System in the Williston Basin,” co-edited by John Robinson, Stephanie Gaswirth and Julie LeFever. Seven of the presentations reviewed above are published in the new book. Over 300 guidebook-DVD’s were sold at the meeting. Additional copies can be purchased on the RMAG website. The symposium was co-sponsored by PTTC. The organizing committee for this meeting consisted of co-chairs John Robinson and Mark Sonnenfeld, program handout – Mary Carr, audio visual – John Horne, sponsors – John Gillespie, advertising – Denise Gibson, and Josh Robbins in the RMAG office. The co-chairs wish to thank RMAG President Ira Pasternack, RMAG and the RMAG Board of Directors, the RMAG Continuing Education Committee, and all the sponsors and exhibitors who supported the meeting.