Joint DGS/RMAG Luncheon – July 2005

Talk Title: The Columbia River Basin—Hidden Giants?
Speakers: David W. Bowen, Kurt Constenius, and Paul Hess, Savant Resources LLC
Publication: The Outcrop, July 2005, p. 5

The Columbia River Basin, located in Washington and Oregon, is one of the largest non-productive sedimentary basins in the United States. The prospective region encompasses greater than 15,000 square miles within which the underlying sedimentary strata have been penetrated by only nine wells. The basin remains enigmatic in that all elements critical for a world class petroleum system are present but historical exploration has been sporadic, resulted in few wells drilled, and only one small, long-since abandoned, accumulation. The reason for this limited exploration in a region known to harbor natural gas resources is that the sedimentary basin largely remains hidden beneath a thick carapace of basalt. Conventional exploration methods of surface geology and seismic interpretation have been unsuccessful. Additionally, historical technology did not allow the economic drilling of as thick as 12,000 feet of basalt and economic completions of the tight gas sandstone reservoirs below. Recently, exploration interest in this basin has dramatically increased due to favorable commodity prices and new technology. Integrating surface and subsurface geology with geophysical imaging techniques utilizing magnetotellurics data has allowed for mapping of the basin, the sub-basalt sedimentary strata, and potentially large structural features to identify potential traps. Innovative drilling and completion techniques may also change the economic basis for exploration and exploitation of this potentially world-class resource. With one exploration well currently underway, and potentially others on the horizon, many of these questions may soon be answered.