Evaluating hydrocarbon-in-place and recovery factor in a hybrid petroleum system: Case of Bakken and three forks in North Dakota

S. Amin Gherabati, H. Scott Hamlin, Katie M. Smye, Raymond L. Eastwood, Frank R. Male, Guinevere McDaid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An integrated workflow to estimate the hydrocarbon-in-place and recovery factor is applied in the Bakken-Three Forks petroleum system. Evaluating factors that control the generation and storage of hydrocarbon, such as the total organic carbon, maturity of shale, thickness, porosity, and permeability is a challenge in any shale play study. In addition, the hybrid nature of the Bakken petroleum system, where the source and reservoir rock are present within a short depth interval, adds complexity to the production interpretation and outlook of the play. One complexity is the contribution from Upper and Lower Bakken organic-rich shales to the production of horizontal wells completed in the Middle Bakken low-permeability laminated sandstone/siltstone and Upper Three Forks sandy/silty dolostone. We have performed geologic and petrophysical studies and calculate and map the hydrocarbon pore volume. For fluid characterization, we use three models to accurately cover a range of American Petroleum Institute gravity and gas/oil ratio. We evaluate the contribution of Upper and Lower Bakken to production by constructing simulation models and used that knowledge to estimate the recovery factor of the horizontal wells. Production depletes the Middle Bakken, creating a pressure difference between the Middle Bakken and the Upper/Lower Bakken, which in turn depletes the Upper/Lower Bakken. Vertical permeability controls production from the Upper and Lower Bakken, and higher vertical permeability increases the contribution of the two shale members. An understanding of the maturity and trap mechanism can help to explain the water-saturation distribution, and understanding these factors is crucial to any future development of the play.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)T607-T624
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geology


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