EIA produces new Utica Shale game maps – Today in Energy


May 2, 2016

Source: US Energy Information Administration, based on DrillingInfo, Inc., IHS Inc., Appalachian Oil and Natural Research Consortium and US Geological Survey
To note: Click to enlarge.

The US Energy Information Administration has produced new maps that show the structure, thickness, and geological setting of the Utica shale area and the location of production wells. Oil and natural gas production from the Utica area has increased since 2011, with more than 1,700 wells drilled in January 2016. The Utica area includes both the Utica formation and the deeper formation of Point Pleasant, each with its own unique characteristics.

The Utica game spans approximately 60,000 square miles across Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. The geological characteristics of the Utica and Point Pleasant formations, which are discussed in the EIA update, are favorable for the accumulation and production of hydrocarbons.

The Utica map is one of many low permeability oil formation maps updated by the EIA with additional geological detail. The EIA has already published updated maps of the main geological and tectonic features of the Marcellus and Eagle Ford areas. EIA also provided shapefiles for structure and thickness maps of the following: Marcellus, Eagle Ford, Abo-Yeso, Bone Spring, Delaware, Glorieta-Yeso, Spraberry, Bakken, Three Forks and Niobrara.

map of the submarine elevation at the top of the Utica formation, as described in the text of the article


Source: US Energy Information Administration, based on DrillingInfo, Inc., IHS Inc., Appalachian Oil and Natural Research Consortium and US Geological Survey
To note: Click to enlarge.

map of the submarine elevation to the top of the Point Pleasant Formation, as described in the text of the article


Source: US Energy Information Administration, based on DrillingInfo, Inc., IHS Inc., Appalachian Oil and Natural Research Consortium and US Geological Survey
To note: Click to enlarge.

The Utica is a stacked area that includes both the Utica Formation and the underlying Point Pleasant Formation. Currently, the deeper Point Pleasant is more often targeted for oil and natural gas drilling because it is more productive. Most of the most productive areas of the Point Pleasant Formation footprint are in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Submarine elevation contour maps representing the upper surface of each formation were developed with depth measurements from wells and outcrop data from the US Geological Survey. These maps represent the submarine depths and only an approximate drilling depth to reach the top of each formation.

The Point Pleasant Formation is the deepest in southwestern Pennsylvania, reaching submarine depths of over 13,000 feet, and it is the shallowest at the junction of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. The Utica Formation reaches submarine depths of up to 12,500 feet in a northeast arc across Pennsylvania and is also the shallowest at the junction of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. The most productive wells in the Utica Formation are found at submarine depths ranging from 5,000 to 11,000 feet.

Structure maps not only provide valuable drilling information, but also provide insight into the distribution of oil and natural gas throughout the area. Temperature and pressure, which are a function of the depth of a formation, are key factors in the amount of oil and natural gas present in the formation.

map of the thickness of the Utica formation, as described in the text of the article


Source: US Energy Information Administration, based on DrillingInfo, Inc., IHS Inc., Appalachian Oil and Natural Research Consortium and US Geological Survey
To note: Click to enlarge.

map of the thickness of the Point Pleasant formation, as described in the text of the article


Source: US Energy Information Administration, based on DrillingInfo, Inc., IHS Inc., Appalachian Oil and Natural Research Consortium and US Geological Survey
To note: Click to enlarge.

thickness map of the Utica and Point Pleasant formations, as described in the text of the article


Source: US Energy Information Administration, based on DrillingInfo, Inc., IHS Inc., Appalachian Oil and Natural Research Consortium and US Geological Survey
To note: Click to enlarge.

Thickness maps (isopach) for each formation individually and for the Utica area as a whole were developed from well observations. The maps also show areas with high organic content, which is a factor in the amount of hydrocarbons in the rock. Like structure maps, isopache maps provide valuable drilling information because reservoir thickness is a key factor in determining whether and where to drill a well.

The Utica Formation is thickest in western Ohio and the northwest corner of Pennsylvania at 200-300 feet and thins to 50 feet or less in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky . The Point Pleasant Formation is over 200 feet thick in central Pennsylvania and thins to less than 20 feet in the eastern half of Kentucky. The combined thickness of Utica and Point Pleasant is less than 100 feet in the area where Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky meet. Thickness reaches over 300 feet in northwest and central Pennsylvania, and northeast and central Ohio. Most producing wells are located where the formation is 150 feet or more thick.

Main contributors: Olga Popova, Tess Haegele, Gary Long


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