Trenton-Black River Driving Deep Exploration In Appalachian Basin
(Tech Connections Column, June 2001, American Oil and
The Trenton-Black River is one of the hottest plays in the Appalachian region. More than 150 geologists and independent producers packed a May 1 workshop in Morgantown,
W.V., to gather data on how to explore and produce oil and gas from the Trenton-Black River formation in the Appalachian Basin.
“We had to turn away more than 50 more who wanted to attend our ‘Appalachian Update: Trenton-Black River Exploration and Production’ workshop, explains Doug
Patchen, director of the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council’s Appalachian Region.
“We knew recent Trenton discoveries from New York to Tennessee would spark interest, but we really weren’t prepared for the overwhelming interest we received from all across the nation,” Patchen notes, adding that plans are underway to repeat the workshop.
Kathleen F. Sanford, New York Division of Mineral Resources, told the group that the search for natural gas in the Trenton-Black River intensified in 2000 in New York. She said that during 2000, 38 wells were
spudded, primarily in the southern Finger Lakes area of Steuben, Schuyler and Chemung counties. Total depths in those areas range from 7,000 to 10,000 feet.
“Fifteen Trenton-Black River wells produced nearly 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas during 1999, representing nearly 20 percent of New York’s total natural gas production from fewer than 1 percent of the total number of wells,” Sanford said.
She added that production statistics for the year 2000 would be available July 1, and were expected to show an even larger Trenton-Black River contribution.
Katharine Lee Avery from the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey told the group that the discovery of large volumes of gas in the Trenton-Black River by Columbia Natural Resources in Roane County,
W.V., had led to a flurry of permitting activity in the area. The discovery well, CNR 20097 Frederick C. Parker, was drilled into the Black River, and encountered an estimated natural open flow potential of 50 million cubic feet of gas a day, with a reported rock pressure of 5,750 psi in an open-hole completion from 10,255 to 10,271 feet.
A second well in the Cottontree Field, the CNR 23975 Juanita Groves et al, was completed in the fall of 1999. The pay in this well is in the Trenton at 9,658-9,712 feet. The reported natural open flow potential was 28
MMcf/d, with a reported rock pressure of 4,897 psi. She noted that 100 wells in 12 West Virginia counties had been permitted to the Trenton and deeper zones through 2001.
Richard Smosna, Department of Geology & Geography at West Virginia University, opened the one-day session with an overview of the stratigraphy of the Central Appalachians. He noted that the Trenton-Black River ran from eastern Canada to Tennessee, and that much of the area along the way had yet to be adequately explored, citing recent Trenton-Black River discoveries in Hancock County,
Tn., by Tengasco Inc. and Miller Petroleum Inc.
Gary Bible, vice president of exploration at Miller Petroleum, attended the seminar and a week later gave his own presentation to the Tennessee Oil & Gas Association annual convention (see TOGA convention coverage, this issue). In his presentation, Bible noted that seismic was an important tool for locating Trenton production. “It is generally agreed that we are looking for structural depressions over the dolomitized zone, as well as vertical displacement of the underlying Precambrian basement zone,” he expressed.
Bible predicted that the Tennessee Trenton-Black River/Knox play centered in the Swan Creek field in Hancock County would spread to at least five more counties, now that a gas pipeline from the field to markets in Kingsport,
Tn., had been constructed.
While the current focus is on New York, West Virginia and Tennessee, other sections in the Appalachian Basin have potential. Robert C. Shumaker, also with the West Virginia University Department of Geology and Geography, provided an interpretation of the Central Appalachian structure, again noting that there were thousands of unexplored acres in the basin.
In describing exploration activities in the Rome Trough in Kentucky, David Harris of the Kentucky Geological Survey noted that drilling in eastern Kentucky was providing new data. He pointed out that, after a long and frustrating exploration history, significant commercial gas production had been established in the Rome Trough in eastern Kentucky, but it remained a single-well field at this time. In discussing Kentucky’s Trenton-Black River potential, Harris predicted that as deep exploration in the Trenton-Black River interval expanded in West Virginia, extending the play southward along the trend of the Rome Trough into Kentucky was likely. “However, high-volume gas production similar to that encountered in West Virginia has not been reported in Kentucky to date,” he added.
Editor’s Note: PTTC gratefully acknowledges this contribution by Bill Goodwin, president of the Tennessee Oil & Gas Association.