Market Potential of Deep Delaware Basin Gas Reserves
- C. James Bulla (Northern Natural Gas Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 1966
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,257 - 1,259
- 1966. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 5.1.7 Seismic Processing and Interpretation, 4.6 Natural Gas
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This article deals with three of the numerous factors affecting the marketing potential for gas reserves in the deep Delaware basin. Discoveries of major gas fields ill the Basin are briefly reviewed and potential reserve needy of gas transmission companies are outlined. Data from a study by the Future Gas Requirements Committee on natural gas requirements of the United States are included.
The advent of deep drilling in the Delaware basin and its eastern extension the Val Verde basin, and the discovery of large volumes of high-pressure gas reserves in these areas, has given great impetus to the continuation of West Texas and eastern New Mexico as one of the major supply areas of natural gas in the United States. It is generally conceded that many factors must be considered before producers will willingly commit the time and resources necessary to explore the deeper formations in an area as extensive as the Val Verde-Delaware basins. Three of the more important factors are (1) the belief that gas reserves will be discovered of sufficient magnitude to make the venture profitable, (2) the assurance that technology is sufficiently advanced to cope with problems in drilling to depths anticipated, and (3) the probability that demand and price for additional gas reserves by interstate pipelines will be sufficient to provide a ready and attractive market. The first of these factors, the question of whether or not gas might be found in the deeper formations, was rather conclusively answered with the drilling of Puckett Ellenburger in 1952 and Puckett Devonian in 1956. These two fields added over 4 trillion ft of raw gas reserves to the productivity of the Permian Basin and, perhaps of equal importance, their discovery proved that excellent reserves of gas were to be discovered in deeper formations. The Mitchell Ellenburger field discovered in 1952 in Crockett County, and the Brown-Bassett field extension drilled in 1958 in Terrell County added additional information on the productivity of the Ellenburger pay. Although these fields were in the Val Verde basin, produce" had not been idle in the Delaware basin. The Toyah Devonian field, Reeves County, Tex., was discovered in 1954 and the Ellenburger was tested; unfortunately. it produced gas with a carbon dioxide content of over 98 per cent. Then, in 1959 Phillips Petroleum Co. plugged its University "EE" No. 1 in Pecos County, Tex., after having drilled to a total depth of 25,340 ft. The well was dry, but the second of the three factors was partially satisfied-the industry recognized that it had the technical ability to drill to record depths.
The decision of where to drill, however, was still subject to a great deal of speculation. Seismic interpretation in both the Val Verde and Delaware basins had never been completely satisfactory because overlying beds of carbonates tended to distort seismic reflections in such a manner that correct interpretation of the data was most difficult; however, during the period from 1952 through 1960, the engineers and geophysicists had not been idle. They devised methods of reducing the amount of superfluous data acquired by utilizing computer programs and other techniques which enabled them to locate potentially productive drilling sites with an improved measure of accuracy. Thus, by 1960 all of the major problems barring development of deep Delaware basin formations were solved except for the assurance of a ready market. The three interstate pipeline companies taking gas from the Permian Basin-El Paso Natural Gas Co., Northern Natural Gas Co. and Transwestern Pipeline Co.-were all in a temporary oversupply position, and the possibility of an immediate market appeared rather bleak.
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