DOI awardee to speak in Denver

Cooperation Leads to Success

A Hollywood ending? The PNR-1WD rig, with the town of Poplar in the background. Photo by Christa Tyrrell, Ft. Peck Tribes, Office of Environmental Protection
A Hollywood ending? The PNR-1WD rig, with the town of Poplar in the background. Photo by Christa Tyrrell, Ft. Peck Tribes, Office of Environmental Protection

Imagine this as the imaginary plot for a screenplay: A tiny rural town on an Indian Reservation sits a few miles from a large oil field. Abandoned wells are leaking hot, salty water into the town’s only drinking water source, a shallow aquifer.

The town’s residents losing their clean water supply.

Sounds like the lead-in to a Hollywood blockbuster akin to Erin Brockovich, with Big Oil one of the lead actors.

The screenplay calls for top-rank stars and will certainly portray the petroleum industry in a very negative light.

But wait – the facts on the ground challenge this over-dramatized cinematic scenario!

In the real event:

  • The federal and tribal governments coordinate considerable expertise and spends millions to delineate the contamination, in cooperation with the new industry owner of the leaking well, which acquired that well long after the leak began.
  • The petroleum company plugs the leaking brine from the well it inherited and invests millions in designing a state-of-the-art remediation project, with recognizable results early on.
  • The tribal environmental personnel and state agencies marvel at the cooperative process focused on the issue – a process in which they are fully informed and involved.
  • Finally, the entire project receives the Department of the Interior’s 2008 Environmental Achievement Award, in recognition that “the unique combination of methods and collaboration used to document remediation progress is unprecedented, and these techniques will likely supplement future industry standards for monitoring remediation.”

This is pretty exciting stuff, in my book – reading about the thorough, involved process and its ongoing results actually gave me goose bumps.

This is a fine example of the kind of work going on in our industry as we step up with determination to solve environmental issues associated with hydrocarbon exploration and production.

DEG is proud to claim the petroleum environmental scientist involved in leading the industry side of the successful team effort – our very own Mike Jacobs of Pioneer Natural Resources, U.S.A, who also is president-elect of DEG. 

We also claim the lead U.S. Geological Survey scientist, Bruce Smith, as one of our own. Bruce, by the way, is our DEG chairman for the upcoming Denver AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition.

So as you make your plans for the Denver AAPG convention, be aware that the DEG luncheon speaker Mike Jacobs will present this award-winning “Cooperative Aquifer Restoration Project, Fort Peck Indian Reservation – A Multi-Agency Success Story.”

We hope that you will join us to learn more about the story, and watch for a detailed story on the project in an upcoming EXPLORER – or you could wait for the movie, although I predict it will have a different ending.


Here’s another reminder that DEG Committees seek your input and membership.

Please visit the DEG Web site to learn about the goals of the Environmental Geophysics, CO2 Sequestration, Geohazards, Hydrogeology, Environmental Health and Safety and Research committees.

Network with your peers and share your expertise with industry partners.

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Division Column-DEG

Division Column-DEG Rebecca Dodge

Rebecca Dodge, of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, is DEG President for 2008-09.

Division Column DEG

The Division of Environmental Geosciences (DEG), a division of AAPG, is concerned with increasing awareness of the environment and the petroleum industry and providing AAPG with a scientific voice in the public arena. Among its objectives are educating members about important environmental issues, supporting and encouraging research on the effects of exploration and production on the environment, and communicating scientific information to concerned governmental agencies.

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Predicting the presence and connectivity of reservoir-quality facies in otherwise mud-prone fluvial overbank successions is important because such sand bodies can potentially provide connectivity between larger neighboring sand bodies. This article addresses minor channelized fluvial elements (crevasse-splay and distributary channels) and attempts to predict the connectivity between such sand bodies in two interseam packages of the Upper Permian Rangal Coal Measures of northeastern Australia. Channel-body percent as measured in well logs was 2% in the upper (Aries-Castor) interseam and 17% in the lower (Castor-Pollux) interseam. Well spacing were too great to allow accurate correlation of channel bodies. The Ob River, Siberia, was used as a modern analog to supply planform geometric measurements of splay and distributary channels so that stochastic modeling of channel bodies was possible. The resulting models demonstrated that (1) channel-body connectivity is more uniform between minor distributary channels than between crevasse-splay channels; (2) relatively good connectivity is seen in proximal positions in splays but decreases distally from the source as channel elements diverge; and (3) connectivity tends to be greater down the axis of splays, with more isolated channel bodies occurring at the margins.
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Considerable effort has been devoted to the development of simulation algorithms for facies modeling, whereas a discussion of how to combine those techniques has not existed. The integration of multiple geologic data into a three-dimensional model, which requires the combination of simulation techniques, is yet a current challenge for reservoir modeling. This article presents a thought process that guides the acquisition and modeling of geologic data at various scales. Our work is based on outcrop data collected from a Jurassic carbonate ramp located in the High Atlas mountain range of Morocco. The study window is 1 km (0.6 mi) wide and 100 m (328.1 ft) thick. We describe and model the spatial and hierarchical arrangement of carbonate bodies spanning from largest to smallest: (1) stacking pattern of high-frequency depositional sequences, (2) facies association, and (3) lithofacies. Five sequence boundaries were modeled using differential global position system mapping and light detection and ranging data. The surface-based model shows a low-angle profile with modest paleotopographic relief at the inner-to-middle ramp transition. Facies associations were populated using truncated Gaussian simulation to preserve ordered trends between the inner, middle, and outer ramps. At the lithofacies scale, field observations and statistical analysis show a mosaiclike distribution that was simulated using a fully stochastic approach with sequential indicator simulation.

This study observes that the use of one single simulation technique is unlikely to correctly model the natural patterns and variability of carbonate rocks. The selection and implementation of different techniques customized for each level of the stratigraphic hierarchy will provide the essential computing flexibility to model carbonate settings. This study demonstrates that a scale-dependent modeling approach should be a common procedure when building subsurface and outcrop models.

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