Conasauga Shale Research Consortium (CSRC)

Grants and Contracts Details


In 2013, the Bruin Exploration #1 Young well, in Lawrence County, Kentucky, was the first well to target the Cambrian Conasauga Group shales as an unconventional oil and gas reservoir. Speculation on the success of this well quickly spread through the industry, resulting in a regional oil and gas leasing boom in 2014 and 2015 across eastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia. Since 2013, five additional Conasauga shale wells have been drilled. Although most of these wells encountered oil and/or gas, the volumes produced during testing were lower than expected. Although the play appears to be a technical success (oil and gas was found in the Rogersville Shale of the Conasauga Group), the economics of the play remain to be proven. The Conasauga Shale Research Consortium (CSRC) intends accelerate the development of the Rogersville Shale and other Conasauga shales as unconventional oil and gas (UOG) plays by gathering the additional data necessary, and testing different well completion designs in both theoretical models and in a real-world application at an extended horizontal well drilled in Lawrence County, KY. The CSRC is being led by a team from the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) at the University of Kentucky (with John Hickman as PI, and David Harris as Co-PI), and also includes geologists and petroleum engineers from West Virginia University (WVU) and the West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey (WVGES). The CSRC will compile all available pre-existing data on the Conasauga, including data acquired under data-sharing agreements from all four operators of the six Rogersville Shale UOG wells. These data will be augmented with the collection of new samples and data during the drilling of a new horizontal well lateral into the Rogersville Shale in Lawrence County, KY. Analyses will include evaluating the source rock’s (Rogersville Shale) thermal maturity, organic content, lithologic content, provenance of the clays within the unit, major- and trace-elemental analysis, scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis of pore types, traditional and noble gas geochemistry of oil and/or gas that is produced, molecular and isotopic chemistry of natural gases, programed pyrolysis to determine further petroleum potential of the source rock, lithologic and geomechanical analyses for developing effective completion strategies, long-term (1 year) subsurface production rate monitoring (temperature and acoustic) through fiber-optic sensors, and detailed subsurface mapping of the Conasauga Group utilizing well data, reflection seismic profiles, and remote sensing (potential fields) data. All of this compiled, shared, and recorded/acquired data will be combined with extensive proprietary datasets acquired by WVU for thousands of well completion parameters and production data from at least three other UOG shale plays; the Marcellus and Utica Shales of the Appalachian Basin, and the Wolfcamp-A shales from the Permian Basin. Using data analytics and machine learning techniques, suggested completion designs will be built for attaining maximum efficiency and recovery from future Rogersville UOG wells. Both the generated data and the interpreted results will be released to the public in a final project report at the end of the project, including a Rogersville Development Strategy Plan detailing suggested “best practices” for future Rogersville exploration and development. The potential impact of this project for the future UOG development of Conasauga shales is two-fold. First, the CSRC website and data portal will be a “one-stop shop” for all existing public data on the Conasauga (including any produced in the project), expediting the initial stages of work (at dramatically reduced costs) for future exploration teams. Second, the petroleum engineering review of past results and data analytics will help direct future operations toward successful techniques and away from those less likely to be successful, enabling them to make better decisions by learning from others’ past failures.
Effective start/end date10/1/197/31/21


  • Department of Energy: $964,378.00


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