Dr. Steve Sonnenberg, Professor and Charles Boettcher Distinguished Chair in Petroleum Geology at the Colorado School of Mines started the first session of The 1st Annual Niobrara Shale Conference with his talk on “Exploring the Geology of the Niobrara Shale”. The talk was held at the Colorado Convention Center on April 17th.
During his talk Dr. Sonnenberg spoke to an attentive audience in detail about the Niobrara Shale, covering its lithology, depositional history, and past production history. Dr. Sonnenberg intrigued the audience with newly released data showing that polygonal fracturing elements had been observed in 3-D seismic maps of the Niobrara, and that mapping these fractures will enable operators to better locate sweet spots in the formation prior to drilling. The polygonal fractures are formed as a result of volumetric contraction due to compaction-driven fluid expulsion and compaction dewatering that occurs at depth.
At the conclusion of his presentation, Dr. Sonnenberg encouraged industry operators to explore for oil in the Fort Hays Limestone (a member of the Niobrara), and the Greenhorn formation (below the Niobrara) as their respective geologic properties possessed the same favorable hydrocarbon potential as the more frequently drilled Niobrara B and C units.