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Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, which is currently being inundated with drilling permits targeting various horizontal zones in the Cretaceous, will see some ultra-deep conventional exploration in its northwestern area.
In north–central Johnson County along the Big Horn Mountains, Ignacio, Colo.–based Red Willow Great Plains (Red Willow) has announced plans to drill a deep vertical wildcat some 3 miles northeast of Buffalo, Wyo., near the synclinal axis of the Powder River Basin. The company is proposing to drill the Buffalo State #20-1, nw-se 20-51n-81w, a 15,000’ Pennsylvanian Minnelusa test. The permit for this well has yet to be approved by the state.
The section where Red Willow wants to drill is currently covered by a Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) regulation that states “… any proposed well in the Powder River Basin projected to test the Frontier, Muddy, and/or Dakota formations in excess of eleven thousand (11,000) feet total depth shall be granted a spacing unit of six-hundred forty (640) acres consisting of the governmental section in which the well is proposed.” Red Willow has indicated to the WOCGG that in addition to the Minnelusa, they also plan to evaluate one or more of the regulated formations.
In a matter related to this 640-acre drilling unit, Red Willow is still waiting for a WOGCC decision regarding a forced pooling request submitted in November of 2016. According to documents supplied to the state, half of the 24 mineral holders within section 20, 51n-81w, have failed to respond or have refused to voluntarily pool their interests in the target formations associated with the drilling, completing, equipping, testing, and production of the pending Buffalo State #20-1.
The township where Red Willow plans to drill has seen the drill bit just eight times, six of which were for shallow coal-bed potential. There is currently no established production within this township. The two conventional exploratory wells include an offset to Red Willow’s proposed Buffalo State #20-1.
Drilled 25 years ago by Anschutz Corporation, the State #2945 10-20, nw-se 20-51n-81w, bottomed in the Lower Cretaceous Dakota at a vertical depth of 12,625’ and was plugged and abandoned with no production casing run. Log tops of this dry hole include the Shannon at 9,314’, Niobrara at 10,260’, Frontier at 11,210’, Muddy at 11,892’, and Dakota came in at 12,582’ beneath a ground elevation of 4,508’.
The second wildcat near the pending Red Willow venture is located almost a mile to the northeast. Drilled by Phillips Petroleum (Phillips), the Morton A #1, sw-sw 16-51n-81w, achieved a total vertical depth in the Upper Cretaceous Shannon of 9,350’. Phillips conducted one drillstem test in the wellbore, which recovered 70’ of drilling mud with no shows of oil or gas from the Shannon interval at 9,180’–9,350’. Tops of this failure picked the Teapot at 7,858’, Parkman at 8,073’, Sussex Bentonite at 8,695’, Sussex Sand at 8,737’, and the Shannon C at 9,199’. KB elevation for the disappointment was 4,446’.
The nearest active production to the anticipated Buffalo State #20-1 is some 17 miles to the southeast at Big Cat Field, a shut-in Shannon and Sussex reservoir that has cumulated more than 90.6 k bo and 66 mmcfg following its discovery in 1988. Production for the pool is coming from depths near 9,500’. Big Cat Field has been shut-in since March of 2016.
The closest Minnelusa production to Red Willow’s likely prospect is approximately 35 miles to the southeast at Pheasant Field, a Pennsylvanian oil pool that currently hosts one active well. Operated by Diamond Oil and Gas, the Pheasant #2-18, se-nw 18-45n-80w, has cumulated more than 484 k bo and 209 k bw from vertical Minnelusa perforations at 15,108’–15,170’. Following its discovery in 1965, Pheasant Field has production surpassing 1 mmbo.
Another Minnelusa reservoir opened the same year spots roughly 4 miles east of Pheasant Field. The strike for Reno Field, which touched off a deep Minnelusa play in this sector of the Powder River Basin, has cumulated more than 13.3 mmbo and 273 mmcfg since 1965. This output is coming from depths below 15,000’. Reno and Pheasant Fields represent the deepest oil production found to-date within the Powder River Basin.