What a Difference 30 Years Can Make!: RMAG Piceance Basin Field Symposium

Title: What a Difference 30 Years Can Make!: RMAG Piceance Basin Field Symposium, October 4-6, 2003
Author: Susan Landon
Publication: The Outcrop, August 2003, p.1, 7

In 1974, the RMAG hosted a field conference in the Piceance Basin and published the traditional companion guidebook: Energy Resources of the Piceance Creek Basin, Colorado. Oil prices had begun the steep climb that characterized the period from 1973 through 1980. Much of the field trip and guidebook focused on Eocene oil shales in the Green River Formation and their potential as a source of crude oil. In the guidebook, 14 papers discussed the stratigraphic framework, geochemistry, and hydrocarbon reserves of these oil shales, and operations and technology associated with the extraction of crude oil from them. Only three papers discussed natural gas in the Piceance Creek Basin, although one of those papers discussed massive fracturing of tight, gas-bearing sandstones. This year RMAG will again visit this revitalized basin and publish a new guidebook as a CD.

Many things have changed since 1974. Oil shale has been moribund since the middle 1980s when the price of crude oil dropped precipitously and oil shale no longer appeared to be a promising economic source of crude oil. Parachute is no longer known for oil shale projects but for the golf courses and retirement community of Battlement Mesa. Recently, oil shale has reappeared as a potential energy source with work on a pilot project by Shell in the Piceance Basin.

The focus of the 2003 field symposium and Guidebook will be natural gas. Two days in the field, Saturday and Monday, will examine the geologic framework resulting in significant natural gas resources in the Piceance Basin. Sunday will be spent in Glenwood Springs with oral and poster presentations to supplement the field discussions. Several papers in the Guidebook, presentations on Sunday, and the field trip stops will discuss changes in the past 30 years that have resulted in the geologic understanding and technologies that have made natural gas such an attractive target in the Piceance Basin. Also on Sunday, we will visit the historic Fairy Caves and Glenwood Caverns with experienced and knowledgeable geologist-cavers. This trip will provide an opportunity to examine karst development in Mississippian limestones of central Colorado and to think about karst porosity in carbonate reservoirs. You can read more about the field trip in the registration materials that appear on pages 14 through 16 of this issue of The Outcrop.

RMAG is working with the American Institute of Professional Geologists on the Field Symposium. This cooperation provides benefits to both groups as AIPG is hosting their annual meeting in Glenwood Springs from October 4-9, 2003. The AIPG meeting will begin with a field trip on Sunday to the Crystal River valley with a tour of the Yule Marble Quarry, an impressive underground quarry and the source of stone for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington. On Sunday evening, RMAG participants will mingle with AIPG geologists from around the world at the Icebreaker. The AIPG program includes a series of half-day sessions and field trips. On Monday, USGS Director Chip Groat will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon. Of most interest to RMAG members, there will be a field trip on Unconventional Petroleum Reservoirs on Tuesday morning that will visit several stops not included in the RMAG field trip and a session on Living with Resource Development on Tuesday afternoon. This session will feature speakers from industry, government, and local communities to examine the issues relating to oil and natural gas development in areas like the Piceance Basin. For more information and registration forms for the AIPG meeting, visit http://www.aipg.org.