Depositional environment, diagenesis and reservoir quality of the middle Bakken member in the Williston Basin, North Dakota

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Ayhan, Oguzhan

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The Upper Devonian-Lower Mississippian Bakken Formation in the Williston Basin is an important source rock for oil production in North America. The Bakken Formation is comprised of three units: Upper and Lower Bakken black shales and Middle Bakken Member. Upper and Lower Bakken shales are high quality source rocks which source reservoirs in the Middle Bakken, Upper Three Forks and lower Lodgepole Formations. The Middle Bakken Member, consisting of predominantly gray, silty and sandy dolostone, is under investigation in this study. The goals of this study are to determine the regional distribution of lithofacies and depositional environments of the Middle Bakken Member and explain diagenetic sequence and reservoir quality parameters in the Williston Basin.

The reservoir quality of the Middle Bakken Member is mainly influenced by mineralogical composition and cementation resulting in low porosity and permeability and linked to lithofacies distribution in the basin. Dolomitization is pervasive throughout the unit, and also occurs as dolomite cement. Moreover, cementation occurred including quartz overgrowths, K-felspar, clay cement and pyrite as both cement and nodules. Not only dolomitization but also pyrite cementation plays an important role in reducing pore space in the reservoir. The pore types that were identified are intergranular, intragranular, fracture and moldic pores. Secondary intragranular porosity generally resulted from dissolution of biogenic fragments and dissolution of other unstable minerals including feldspar and dolomite.

In this study, five lithofacies and one sandy interval within lithofacies C were described throughout the North Dakota portion of the Williston basin. The sandy interval in Lithofacies C was interpreted as bars or channel fills, which differentiates this study from previous studies in terms of core description. N-S, W-E, NE-SW, NW-SE oriented cross-sections drawn via cores suggest that the lithofacies of the Middle Bakken Member pinch out towards the edges. However, the anticlines in the basin affect their thickness distributions. Sandy interval in Lithofacies C reaches its thickest succession in the center of the basin. Lithofacies C and D consist of up to 80% of dolomite although the other lithofacies consist of relatively lower dolomite (up to 65%). While well logs indicate 4-8% of porosity, point-counting results show up to 5% of porosity. The sequence of diagenetic events in the North Dakota portion of the Williston Basin is from youngest to oldest: micritization, mechanical and chemical compaction, calcite cementation, dolomitization, pyrite cementation, microcrystalline quartz cementation, syntaxial calcite overgrowth, quartz overgrowth, K-Feldspar overgrowth, dolomite dissolution, feldspar dissolution, dedolomitization, fracturing, anhydrite cementation and hydrocarbon migration.


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