Abstract

The Barnett Shale (Mississippian) in the Delaware Basin has the potential to be a prolific gas producer. The shale is organic rich and thermally mature over large parts of the basin. Depths to the Barnett range from 7000 ft (2133 m) along the western edge of the basin to more than 18,000 ft (5486 m) along the basin axis. The Barnett Shale began generating petroleum about 250 Ma and reached its maximum temperature about 260 Ma. Present-day thermal maturity is indicative of maximum burial and temperature. Wells in northern Reeves County are in the gas window based on measured vitrinite reflectance values and kerogen transformation ratios. The shale can be divided into an upper clastic unit and a lower limy unit by changes in resistivity. The lower unit can be subdivided into five subunits by distinctive well-log markers. Preliminary analyses suggest that intervals in the lower Barnett marked by high resistivity and high neutron porosity readings on well logs have high gas contents. Areas in which to focus the future exploration in the lower Barnett can be delineated by mapping a net resistivity greater than 50 ohm m. The Barnett Shale contains significant gas resources in the Delaware Basin. Realizing the potential of these resources depends on the current efforts to optimize drilling and completion techniques for this shale-gas play.

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