Over the last decade, the growth of unconventional resource development in the Midland Basin has significantly increased the disposal of produced water volumes. Disposal into the historic Grayburg-San Andres (GYBG-SNDR) reservoir has resulted in a dynamically changing pore pressure environment relative to deeper producing formations which is important to consider when planning drilling operations throughout the basin. A deep understanding of the GYBG-SNDR geology is imperative for reservoir management to ensure that produced water disposal does not hinder oil and gas production operations. This study describes the geologic controls on porosity and permeability distributions in GYBG-SNDR across the Midland Basin by utilizing core, modern well log suites, 3D seismic data, and saltwater disposal (SWD) well data.

In 2017, Pioneer acquired more than 1,000 feet of core in three wells over the GYBG-SNDR injection interval which were used to describe the depositional and diagenetic facies and calibrate a petrophysical model for a basin-wide well log dataset. The resultant log curves were used to construct maps describing the abundance and regional distribution of each lithology, which validated and further refined the depositional model. Observations resulting from the integration of the lithology maps, 3D seismic data, well log correlations and core were used to divide the basin into three distinct areas based upon the dominant lithologies and stratigraphic architecture. The three areas are separated by two major shelf margins representing a significant sea level drop at that time. These basin-wide trends provide a regional geologic framework in which to analyze SWD well performance.

Numerous geologic maps were created and tested against quality-checked and normalized SWD well performance data. Despite some scatter in the data (due to the differences in how the wells are operated, completed, and maintained) a positive linear correlation was found between SWD well performance and permeable dolomite footage. Additionally, anhydrite is most abundant in the northeastern part of the basin and is qualitatively associated with a decrease in permeable dolomite thickness, and therefore performance. Mapped matrix permeability is enhanced by fracture permeability related to syndepositional margin collapse and reactivation of older faults during the Laramide Orogeny. These features are documented throughout the Midland Basin using proprietary 3D seismic datasets and have been shown to be conduits for fluid flow resulting in dissolution and further dolomitization in some areas.

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