Idea was ’falling off the shelf’

Amoruso’s Concept Came to Play

It’s said the oil and gas business is second only to the space industry in the use of sophisticated technology.

Yet there are oil and gas explorers out there who occasionally demonstrate that finding the Big One doesn’t necessarily require any high-tech applications – or even access to a lot of geologic detail for that matter.

Activity at the East Texas Amoruso Field, named after its discoverer, John Amoruso an Honorary AAPG member who is vice chair of the AAPG Foundation Board of Trustees. He also was AAPG president in 1983-84 and in 2007 was the inaugural recipient of the Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award.
Photo courtesy of John Amoruso.
Activity at the East Texas Amoruso Field, named after its discoverer, John Amoruso an Honorary AAPG member who is vice chair of the AAPG Foundation Board of Trustees. He also was AAPG president in 1983-84 and in 2007 was the inaugural recipient of the Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award. Photo courtesy of John Amoruso.
Amoruso Field Rig. Photo courtesy of EnCana
Amoruso Field Rig. Photo courtesy of EnCana

Sometimes all it takes is an idea, a concept – and some money to prove up the concept.

Just ask geologist and past AAPG president John Amoruso, who used this approach that led to the 2004 discovery of his namesake, the dynamic Amoruso Field in East Texas.

The seasoned explorer had been honing his expertise in the East Texas area since 1963 and became particularly intrigued with the Upper Jurassic Bossier formation drilling activity on the Jurassic Cotton Valley shelf edge.

But Amoruso had other things on his mind – specifically the potential for the deep Bossier sands dumped over the shelf edge.

“The Mims Creek and Dew Creek fields that Anadarko was developing showed the shelf Bossier had a lot of potential,” he said. “But as you went into deeper water (depositionally) you could see the sand sections built up, got thicker, more frequent and seemed to get better reservoir qualities, or better permeability and porosities.

“We didn’t have data to see what the Anadarko wells were doing,” Amoruso said, “but I knew in the older wells released before the Bossier play really started, you could see the increase in the number of sands and the thickness and the quality.”

It was a bit of a head scratcher.

“I couldn’t see any particular place they were coming from,” Amoruso said, “just coming over the edge (of the shelf).”

Following a Hunch

He determined the best place to look for a concentration of these sands ” and where a turbidite fan might be developed ” would be where he could find a good break in the Cotton Valley shelf.

“I thought I knew where that break was, that channel from which the sand should have flowed off the shelf and through that channel into the deeper water,” Amoruso said. “And it turned out to be true.

“It flowed in pulses, and the Bossier section is primarily shale with independent sands,” he added.

There were pulses of sand deposition that came through, which resulted in the sands being included and totally encompassed by the shale ” “the shale,” he said, “was the seal and the source.

“A lot of this was conjecture,” Amoruso noted. “We had no seismic, no wells that proved it.

“It was a regional idea and the prospect was a regional dumping area for sands,” he said. “If the sands are coming off and you’re seeing them get better and more frequent and where there’s a logical place for them to come off and be the best ” that’s what the concept was.”

He commented that he expected the Bossier to increase in pressure along with an increase in reservoir quality in the deeper water in what he thought was the fan, which should result in good delivery, good production and reserves.

Show Him the Money

With a miniscule amount of hard data to rely on, Amoruso outlined an area encompassing about 48,000 acres in Robertson County as a lease acquisition target, noting that he would have been even more aggressive if he had data that became available to him later.

Prior to leasing, however, financing had to be acquired.

Enter Guma Aguiar, who had managed energy assets for his family for some time.

“I had an idea, a concept and developed a nice relationship with Guma, who was a first-class person to work with, and he put up money as we needed it to buy acreage,” Amoruso said. “When it came time to drill, Leor Energy was formed ” with Guma as CEO ” to drill the well in 2004.”

The initial well in the Amoruso Field reached TD at 16,600 feet and was successful, albeit not to the extent anticipated. But major drilling successes in the deep overpressured Bossier soon followed.

In fact, the Amoruso Field ” today owned 100 percent by EnCana ” reportedly is considered to be one of the five largest U.S. onshore discoveries in the past 10 years.

Amoruso put the opportunity into perspective, saying that “the gift from God” essentially is:

  • The concept.
  • The ability to get financing when we had no money.
  • Them letting us do what we knew how to do to make an exploration play.

“The essential thing was the jump from the shelf to the deep,” he noted.

Aguiar’s monetary contribution showed he clearly had abundant confidence in Amoruso and his cohorts at Legends Exploration Co.

“They (Leor) had put $20 million in the thing by the time we got the first well down,” Amoruso noted. “It doesn’t happen often with geologists with minimum data you can convince someone to put that much money in.”

He doesn’t rule out that it could happen again.

“When we formed Legends in 2002, we were looking for homerun gas prospects,” Amoruso said, “and that’s one of the ones we had.

“It’s a once in a lifetime type of thing,” he said, adding, “we’re trying for it not to be.”

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