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Abstract

Since its discovery in 1970, Wattenberg has been a prolific oil and gas field in the Rocky Mountain region. Having 4.2 TCFE produced to-date and estimated EURs conservatively projected to exceed 5.5 TCFE, Wattenberg ranks as the 8th largest gas field in the U.S. Production was first established from the Cretaceous J Sandstone, a pervasive delta-front shoreline and valley fill sequence covering a significant portion of northeast Colorado. In the early 1980’s, commercial production from the Cretaceous Codell and Niobrara formations established low-risk multiple pay options over the entire field area, which underwent strong exploitation phases during the 1990’s and 2000’s. The Codell represents marine shelf bar and bar margin sandstone deposits. The Niobrara is represented by a deep water chalk environment of deposition. All producing units in Wattenberg are classified as tight gas reservoirs, having in situ permeabilities ranging from 0.01 to 0.0001 md and requiring hydraulic fracture stimulation to achieve commercial results.

Multiple generations of technological improvements in drilling, petrophysics, and completion practices have been applied in Wattenberg during four decades of field development. Operational and logging methods include directional and pad drilling, horizontal drilling, infill drilling, FMI, CMR, and ECS logging, and new commingling of pay groups. Reservoir methods include advances in hydraulic fracturing, microseismic evaluations, petrophysical/saturation modeling, facility automation, subsurface ties to outcrop sections, pressure/volumetric studies, and fault sealing analyses. More recent studies tying outcrops to subsurface sections of isolated shelf sand bodies may provide potential opportunities for new generation plays and increase current reserve estimates.

In the future, Wattenberg will continue as a major gas field. Its proximity to the metropolitan corridor in eastern Colorado will provide that area with a convenient low-cost source of energy supply.

Figure 1.

Location map and general information about Wattenberg Field.

Figure 1.

Location map and general information about Wattenberg Field.

Figure 2.

DJ Basin Stratigraphic chart showing main producing and water disposal intervals.

Figure 2.

DJ Basin Stratigraphic chart showing main producing and water disposal intervals.

Figure 3.

Structural cross section of the Denver Basin showing main reservoir packages and hydrocarbon generation area.

Figure 3.

Structural cross section of the Denver Basin showing main reservoir packages and hydrocarbon generation area.

Figure 4.

Wattenberg production history with major impact events.

Figure 4.

Wattenberg production history with major impact events.

Figure 5.

J Sandstone stratigraphic section. Datum = top Mowry.

Figure 5.

J Sandstone stratigraphic section. Datum = top Mowry.

Figure 6.

J3 Net Sandstone Isopach showing thick delta front sand accumulations separated by lowstand valley-fill cuts and prodelta areas.

Figure 6.

J3 Net Sandstone Isopach showing thick delta front sand accumulations separated by lowstand valley-fill cuts and prodelta areas.

Figure 7.

Niobrara/Codell and J Sandstone composite diagram. Niobrara/Codell stratigraphic section, datum on top Niobrara. Wattenberg Field located partially over paleostructure shown by arching of lower units. J sandstone sequential block diagrams indicate early shoreline conditions, followed by lowstand drop, then filling of incised valleys by subsequent regional transgressive event. Ft. Collins and Horsetooth Members are local nomenclature.

Figure 7.

Niobrara/Codell and J Sandstone composite diagram. Niobrara/Codell stratigraphic section, datum on top Niobrara. Wattenberg Field located partially over paleostructure shown by arching of lower units. J sandstone sequential block diagrams indicate early shoreline conditions, followed by lowstand drop, then filling of incised valleys by subsequent regional transgressive event. Ft. Collins and Horsetooth Members are local nomenclature.

Figure 8.

Structure on top Niobrara Formation. Beds dip more steeply on western flank of field. Eastern flank dips more gently. Basin axis is shown by blue and tan colors.

Figure 8.

Structure on top Niobrara Formation. Beds dip more steeply on western flank of field. Eastern flank dips more gently. Basin axis is shown by blue and tan colors.

Figure 9.

Isopach of Codell Sandstone. Codell thins to southeast as approach regional subcrop of unit.

Figure 9.

Isopach of Codell Sandstone. Codell thins to southeast as approach regional subcrop of unit.

Figure 10.

Isopach of Niobrara Formation. Area in center of field reflects position of Wattenberg High Paleofeature, most active in early Pierre (post-Niobrara) time. Niobrara A Chalk absent over this feature via unconformity.

Figure 10.

Isopach of Niobrara Formation. Area in center of field reflects position of Wattenberg High Paleofeature, most active in early Pierre (post-Niobrara) time. Niobrara A Chalk absent over this feature via unconformity.

Figure 11.

Contours on top of JJ Sandstone (subsea).

Figure 11.

Contours on top of JJ Sandstone (subsea).

Figure 12.

Cretaceous pressure/depth plot for the Wattenberg Field. Intermediate depth ranges contain overpressured envelope, helping fuel hydrocarbon migratory paths.

Figure 12.

Cretaceous pressure/depth plot for the Wattenberg Field. Intermediate depth ranges contain overpressured envelope, helping fuel hydrocarbon migratory paths.

Figure 13.

Thermal anomaly over the Wattenberg area as demonstrated by vitirnite reflectance data.

Figure 13.

Thermal anomaly over the Wattenberg area as demonstrated by vitirnite reflectance data.

Figure 14.

Example of automated production monitoring for Wattenberg well. Plunger cycles at regular intervals. Gas and oil volumes can be monitored remotely via Sygnet radio system. Well can be opened, shut-in or plunger cycles varied via master control valve from central office location.

Figure 14.

Example of automated production monitoring for Wattenberg well. Plunger cycles at regular intervals. Gas and oil volumes can be monitored remotely via Sygnet radio system. Well can be opened, shut-in or plunger cycles varied via master control valve from central office location.

Figure 15.

Surface tiltmeter results for ∼ 2 mi2 area in Wattenberg Field. Comparisons between Codell and J Sand original and refrac operations are shown.

Figure 15.

Surface tiltmeter results for ∼ 2 mi2 area in Wattenberg Field. Comparisons between Codell and J Sand original and refrac operations are shown.

References

Birmingham
,
T.J.
,
D.M.
Lytle
, and
R.N.
Sencenbaugh
,
2001
,
Enhanced recovery from a tight gas sand through hydraulic refracturing: Codell Formation, Wattenberg Field, Colorado
, in
D.S.
Anderson
,
J.W.
Robinson
,
J.E.
Estes-Jackson
, and
E.B.
Coalson
, eds.,
Gas in the Rockies: RMAG
 , p.
101
116
.
Spindle, Wattenberg (CO)
.
Higley
,
D.
,
D.
Cox
, and
R.J.
Weimer
,
2002
,
Petroleum system and production characteristics of the Muddy (“J”) Sandstone (Lower Cretaceous) Wattenberg contuinuous gas field
,
Denver Basin, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Section AAPG 2002 Meeting
,
Laramie, Wyoming
.
Hu
,
G.
, and
J.C.
Simmons
,
2001
,
An integrated model for efficient exploitation of J Sandstone reservoir, Wattenberg Field, Denver Basin
, in
Anderson
,
D.S.
, et al
., ed),
Gas in the Rockies, RMAG Guidebook
 , p.
65
84
.
Sonnenberg
,
S.A.
,
2002
,
Sedimentology and stratigraphy of the Muddy (J) Sandstone, Wattenberg Field
,
Denver Basin, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Section AAPG 2002 Meeting
,
Laramie, Wyoming
.
Weimer
,
R.J.
,
1996
,
Guide to the petroleum geology and Larmide Orogeny, Denver Basin and Front Range, Colorado
:
Colorado Geological Survey Bulletin
 
51
,
127
p.

Figures & Tables

Contents

GeoRef

References

References

Birmingham
,
T.J.
,
D.M.
Lytle
, and
R.N.
Sencenbaugh
,
2001
,
Enhanced recovery from a tight gas sand through hydraulic refracturing: Codell Formation, Wattenberg Field, Colorado
, in
D.S.
Anderson
,
J.W.
Robinson
,
J.E.
Estes-Jackson
, and
E.B.
Coalson
, eds.,
Gas in the Rockies: RMAG
 , p.
101
116
.
Spindle, Wattenberg (CO)
.
Higley
,
D.
,
D.
Cox
, and
R.J.
Weimer
,
2002
,
Petroleum system and production characteristics of the Muddy (“J”) Sandstone (Lower Cretaceous) Wattenberg contuinuous gas field
,
Denver Basin, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Section AAPG 2002 Meeting
,
Laramie, Wyoming
.
Hu
,
G.
, and
J.C.
Simmons
,
2001
,
An integrated model for efficient exploitation of J Sandstone reservoir, Wattenberg Field, Denver Basin
, in
Anderson
,
D.S.
, et al
., ed),
Gas in the Rockies, RMAG Guidebook
 , p.
65
84
.
Sonnenberg
,
S.A.
,
2002
,
Sedimentology and stratigraphy of the Muddy (J) Sandstone, Wattenberg Field
,
Denver Basin, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Section AAPG 2002 Meeting
,
Laramie, Wyoming
.
Weimer
,
R.J.
,
1996
,
Guide to the petroleum geology and Larmide Orogeny, Denver Basin and Front Range, Colorado
:
Colorado Geological Survey Bulletin
 
51
,
127
p.

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