Tectono-thermal History of the Southern Nenana Basin, Interior Alaska: Implications for Conventional and Unconventional Hydrocarbon Exploration

Monday, 15 December 2014
Nilesh C Dixit, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Department of Geosciences and Geophysical Institute, Fairbanks, AK, United States and Catherine L Hanks, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Department of Geosciences - Geology, Geophysics and Geography, Fairbanks, AK, United States
The Tertiary Nenana basin of Interior Alaska is currently the focus of both new oil exploration and coalbed methane exploitation and is being evaluated as a potential CO2sequestration site. The basin first formed as a Late Paleocene extensional rift with the deposition of oil and gas-prone, coal-bearing non-marine sediments with excellent source potential. Basin inversion during the Early Eocene-Early Oligocene times resulted in folding and erosion of higher stratigraphic levels, forming excellent structural and stratigraphic traps. Initiation of active faulting on its eastern margin in the middle Oligocene caused slow tectonic subsidence that resulted in the deposition of reservoir and seal rocks of the Usibelli Group. Onset of rapid tectonic subsidence in Pliocene that continues to the present-day has provided significant pressure and temperature gradient for the source rocks.

Apatite fission-track and vitrinite reflectance data reveals two major paleo-thermal episodes: Late Paleocene to Early Eocene (60 Ma to 54.8 Ma) and Late Miocene to present-day (7 Ma to present). These episodes of maximum paleotemperatures have implications for the evolution of source rock maturity within the basin.

In this study, we are also investigating the potential for coalbed methane production from the Late Paleocene coals via injection of CO2. Our preliminary analyses demonstrate that 150 MMSCF of methane could be produced while 33000 tonnes of CO2 per injection well (base case of ~9 years) can be sequestered in the vicinity of existing infrastructure. However, these volumes of sequestered CO2and coal bed methane recovery are estimates and are sensitive to the reservoir’s geomechanical and flow properties.

Keywords: extensional rift, seismic, subsidence, thermal history, fission track, vitrinite reflectance, coal bed methane, Nenana basin, CO2 sequestration