Monday, July 9, 2007

Drilling in the Illinois Basin

Illinois has become an increasing popular place for oil and natural gas drilling ventures. The depression of the basin covers almost 60K square miles in the Midwestern United States, and contains over 100K cubic miles of sedimentary rock, ranging in age from Cambrian to Permian. Marine carbonates are most common, along with siltstone, shale, and sandstone. The Illinois basin was created by a rift system that failed at the same time as a breakup of the "Supercontinent," or Pangea. This occurred sometime in the early Cambrian period, and the basin later continued to change into a cratonic embayment in the late Cambrian period. In the Carboniferous period of the late Cretaceous, a massive uplift known as the Pascola arch caused a structural enclosure to the basin.
Since the discovery of the Illinois Basin in 1886, almost 4 billion barrels of oil have been piped out as well as four trillion cubic feet of dissolved natural gas material in the Paleozoic rock. Most of the hydrocarbons have been produced from the Pennsylvanian and Mississippian sandstone layers. However, the Devonian, Ordovician, and Silurian Rocks have also been quite productive. There are an abundance of fossil fuels still located in the Illinois basin, with the main obstacle being retrieving it and transporting it. As a result Western Pipeline Corporation and other companies are able to turn sizable profits by providing the construction and ingenuity necessary. Most of the petroleum coming from the basin comes from anticlinal structures with trapping components that are stratigraphic. Along with diagenetic porosity pinch-outs, stratigraphic-fault traps are excellent formations for petroleum production.
There is actually the potential for increased reserves in the Illinois basin in the coming future with several strategies. Secondary and tertiary methods can recover immobile oil, which is estimated to be more than 4 billion barrels, and there is still an abundance of further exploration needed to find more subtle traps. There also continues to be an abundance of production in the Cambro-Ordovician section of rock, but deep drilling is required in this virtually unmapped territory. Bypassed mobile oil is estimated to be in excess of a billion barrels and can be reached through strategic infill drilling.
There is still an abundance of possible oil and natural gas reserves available in the rich region of the Illinois Basin, and the most valuable part of this fact is the location of the Basin. Because it is centrally located within the US borders, transportation costs are extremely low, providing for more profit margins. As oil becomes higher in demand, the Illinois Basin will continue to grow in profitability with and abundance of over 5 billion currently accessible barrels of oil, and future technologies will create even more production options.

About the Author: Bob Jent is the CEO of Western Pipeline Corporation. Western Pipeline Corp is a successful, private independent producer of oil and natural gas.