Finding oil and gas and Osama bin Laden

By Lisa Bracken and Peggy Tibbetts

The Piceance Basin is vast, yet it pales in comparison to the Niobrara Shale formation. So how do those oil & gas companies know where to drill?

From searching for natural gas to finding Osama bin Laden, NEOS GeoSolutions is on it — or rather under it.

According to their website, “NEOS is a leader in multi-measurement subsurface interpretation. By integrating a broad range of geological and geophysical (G&G) data within our proprietary data management system, NEOS can probabilistically determine the subsurface distribution of minerals, hydrocarbons, and rock properties and assist geoscientists in the onshore oil & gas and mining industries to make faster, more informed decisions about where to explore, where to lease, and where to drill” — or where to find Osama bin Laden.

Visit this link and listen to the Company Overview (narrated slideshow) of NEOS GeoSolutions — a firm retained by large independents and “super majors”. This company provides specialized technologies to better aid interpretation of formations from basement to surface. In the Company Overview they educate us on what leading edge technologies are currently being used.

They also note they have provided the same penetrating technologies to the National Security Agency and the CIA for a variety of purposes — like geo-mapping Osama bin Laden’s hideout [Frame 10:  Surface Applications]. We congratulate their efforts to educate viewers on these technologies. We learned quite a lot and bet you all will, too. They did a really good job summarizing the benefit of these technologies to potential clients in 15 short minutes.

One thing that really stood out: Groundwater is often first targeted as an indicator of hydrocarbon reservoirs and conducting faults, since natural faults and fractures act as conduits to both gas and fluid migration. Imagine our surprise at the revelation that both groundwater and faults are actually targeted by operators as an indicator of gas and oil resources, especially in the Piceance Basin. We thought these things were encountered quite by accident, and any migration unlikely. At least, that’s been the official line. Turns out when you want to make more money faster for investors, you might actually look for and then target such things.

Suddenly, it is clear why certain operators like to target anticlines shot through with vertical faults, over pressurized fields, outcrops and watersheds (all of which characterize West Divide Creek) — because these hydro-geologies are especially vulnerable to exploitation.

The geologic conditions characterizing the West Divide Creek anticline have been known by geologists for decades even as reflected in special operational cautions issued by the COGCC prior to EnCana drilling in the area, which leaves one to speculate: How quietly vulnerable did EnCana consider West Divide Creek before they ever began their targeted exploitation of it? And why do oversight authorities and the industry continue to mischaracterize and minimize impacts when recognition of those impacts has become so critical to preventing the ongoing devastation this area has become sadly infamous for?

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