The Powder River Basin’s Transition from Conventional to Unconventional Oil & Gas Production

November 5th (Tuesday), 6 p.m., Teton Co. Library Auditorium – Open to Public. Presentation: “The Powder River Basin’s Transition from Conventional to Unconventional Oil & Gas Production, Presented by Rachel Toner, Wyoming State Geological Survey

Wyoming plays a very important role in the production of energy that the United States is dependent on; and this energy production is incredibly significant for Wyoming’s budget. Petroleum production from the state’s Powder River Basin is a major part of this Wyoming story. The state ranks 8th nationally in both oil and natural gas production. This high ranking is in large part due to the Powder River Basin’s continuous trend of being the state’s top oil-producing and second highest gas-producing basin. However, the methods by which oil and gas is produced from the Powder River Basin and the formations that operators are now targeting have changed drastically. Operators are no longer drilling vertical wells into high porosity formations within anticlinal traps. Instead, they are successfully producing from low porosity formations that were considered uneconomic just a couple decades ago.

This talk will describe how conventional and unconventional reservoirs differ and how technological advancements have transitioned the Powder River Basin’s from being a vertical play to a horizontal play. Two of the basins most productive reservoirs, the Upper Cretaceous Wall Creek Sandstone Member of the Frontier Formation and the Turner Sandy Member of the Carlile Shale, will be specifically examined to determine whether drilling techniques or geology are responsible for their prolific oil and gas production.