Low-permeability reservoirs from the Greater Green River basin of southwest Wyoming are not part of a continuous-type gas accumulation or a basin-center gas system in which productivity is dependent on the development of enigmatic sweet spots. Instead, gas fields in this basin occur in low-permeability, poor-quality reservoir rocks in conventional traps. We examined all significant gas fields in the Greater Green River basin and conclude that they all occur in conventional structural, stratigraphic, or combination traps. We illustrate this by examining several large gas fields in the Greater Green River basin and suggest that observations derived from the Greater Green River basin provide insight to low-permeability, gas-charged sandstones in other basins. We present evidence that the basin is neither regionally gas saturated, nor is it near irreducible water saturation; water production is both common and widespread. Low-permeability reservoirs have unique petrophysical properties, and failure to fully understand these attributes has led to a misunderstanding of fluid distributions in the subsurface. An understanding of multiphase, effective permeability to gas as a function of both varying water saturation and overburden stress is required to fully appreciate the controls on gas-field distribution as well as the controls on individual well and reservoir performance. Low-permeability gas systems such as those found in the Greater Green River basin do not require a paradigm shift in terms of hydrocarbon systems as some have advocated. We conclude that low-permeability gas systems similar to those found in the Greater Green River basin should be evaluated in a manner similar to and consistent with conventional hydrocarbon systems.
To date, resource assessments in the Greater Green River basin have assumed a widespread, continuous-type resource distribution. Failure to recognize some of the fundamental elements of low-permeability reservoirs has led to an underappreciation of the risks associated with exploration and development investment decisions in these settings and likely a significant overestimation of available resource levels.