Technical papers

Technology Advances Unlock the Potential of the Tight Frontier Formation in the Moxa Arch (SPE 18962)


This paper discusses the development history and economics of five fields in the Moxa Arch.  Wells stimulated with Intermediate Strength Ceramic proppants in CO2 foam provide 50-60% increases in 20-year reserves compared to sand/water/gel treatments.


Despite difficult reservoir settings, low wellhead prices, and limited markets for currently undedicated prices, and limited markets for currently undedicated gas in the Rocky Mountains, the Frontier formation in the Greater Green River Basin has the potential to contribute significant new low cost gas reserves.

The Upper Cretaceous Frontier is predominantly tight and contains substantial volumes of gas. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has designated over 2,700 square miles of the Frontier formation in the Greater Green River basin as tight and eligible for economic incentives. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that the Green River Frontier/Dakota Formations contain between 220 and 490 Tcf of tight gas in place. Recent improvements in formation evaluation and stimulation designs, and its location in the Moxa Arch at the gateway of a pending, make the low permeability Frontier formation a desirable near term source of gas for the growing cogeneration and thermal EOR markets in California.

Despite similar technical challenges faced in many other tight settings (e.g. inadequate formation evaluation techniques, inaccurate fracture diagnostics, and the difficulty in reliably designing and delivering effective fractures), over 175 tight Frontier wells were drilled between 1981 and 1987. While Frontier development activity has declined with the market generally in the past few years, the continued availability of economic incentives, improved stimulation techniques and the opening of new markets have further renewed operator interest in development. Finally, the Gas Research Institute (GRI) has selected the Frontier as a possible site for field-based, cooperative R&D to improve tight gas formation and stimulation technologies.

This paper characterizes the formation and describes the technical challenges and development strategies needed to add reserves. First, the paper describes the geologic setting and reservoir characteristics that control potential. Second, it outlines the evolution of stimulation and production practices in tight Frontier wells. Finally, it compares the potential of the Frontier under current technical and market conditions with estimates of future potential based on recent advances in formation evaluation and fracturing techniques.

Author(s): M.R. Haas, K.S. McFall, J-M.P. Coates, ICF-Lewin Energy

Paper Number: SPE 18962



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