SwRI kicks off geology consortium

Southwest Research Institute will launch the Permian Basin Joint Industry Project next month during a series of meetings with member companies in West Texas.

The project title is “Mechanical Stratigraphy and Natural Deformation in the Permian Strata of Texas and New Mexico:  Implications for Exploitation of the Permian Basin.”

The first phase will expand on SwRI’s initial investigations of deformation and mechanical stratigraphy in exposed strata in and around the Permian Basin. During the next two years, the consortium will combine new geological outcrop data with subsurface investigations, allowing members to make more informed decisions for oil production, a news release said.

“With burgeoning activity focused on unconventional reservoirs, our investigations will provide data to help producers plan for the many complications in tight oil plays, which are regions controlled by the same geology,” SwRI scientist David Ferrill said in the release.

The Permian Basin contains thicknesses of self-sourced reservoir strata with low permeability, the release said. Natural fractures can improve extraction by providing permeability to and connectivity within the reservoir. However, those fractures can have detrimental effects as well, leaking hydrocarbons into aquifers or siphoning off drilling mud, Ferrill added.

By studying outcrops and the tectonic events that formed and shaped the Permian Basin, the Permian Basin Joint Industry Project can help operators determine whether deformation is likely to be present in a reservoir to inform ideal drilling azimuths and landing zones or target intervals.

The initial meetings of the Permian Basin Joint Industry Project are set for kick off in May 2017 in San Angelo and Van Horn. They will include field trips to study geology in the eastern, southern, and western parts of the basin.

Membership cost is $100,000 for the two-year initial phase, the release said. Members will receive written reports, presentations, posters, data files, ArcGIS and PETREL “projects,” and field meetings. Project results will also include presentation summaries, data files and documents summarizing field studies, conclusions and annual reports, the release said.

For companies interested in learning more about Permian Basin geology, SwRI offers custom field seminars on how tectonics and mechanical stratigraphy influence natural deformation. The courses explore structural geology around the eastern, southern, and western margins of the Permian Basin. Course participants do not have to be members of the Permian Basin Joint Industry Project.