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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 87, No. 4 (April 2003), P. 609-627.

Copyright 2003. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Reservoir characterization of a Permian deep-water sandstone, East Ford field, Delaware basin, Texas

Shirley P. Dutton,1 William A. Flanders,2 Mark D. Barton3

1Bureau of Economic Geology, John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, 78713; email: [email protected]
2Transpetco Engineering, 110 N. Marienfeld Place, Suite 525, Midland, Texas, 79701; email: [email protected]
3Shell Exploration and Production Inc., 3737 Bellaire Blvd., P.O. Box 481, Houston, Texas 77001-0481; email: [email protected]


Shirley P. Dutton is a senior research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology with research interests in sedimentology, reservoir characterization, sedimentary petrology, and clastic diagenesis. She received a B.A. degree from the University of Rochester and an M.A. degree and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, all in geology.

William A. (Bill) Flanders is an engineer with special expertise in reservoir engineering, enhanced oil recovery, and reservoir modeling. Flanders is president of Transpetco Engineering of the Southwest, and formerly worked at Exxon and at Murphy Oil. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from Kansas State University.

Mark D. Barton is a reservoir geologist with Shell Exploration and Production. He formerly worked at the Bureau of Economic Geology, where he conducted the research summarized in this paper. His expertise is in clastic sedimentology and stratigraphy. He holds a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Texas at Austin.


This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under contract no. DE-FC22-95BC14936 and by the state of Texas under State Match Pool Project 4201 and as part of the State of Texas Advanced Resource Recovery project. DOE project manager was Daniel J. Ferguson. The Bureau of Economic Geology acknowledges support of this research by Landmark Graphics via the Landmark University Grant Program. We thank Mr. Thomas B. Cowden, of the Cowden Ranch, for permission to conduct fieldwork on the ranch. Research was assisted by Jose I. Guzman, Helena H. Zirczy, Luciano L. Correa, and Daniel L. Mendez. We gratefully acknowledge the efforts of David C. Jennette and Lesli J. Wood, who reviewed an early version of this paper, and of peer reviewers Lee T. Billingsley and Fred F. Meissner and Bulletin Editor John C. Lorenz. Their constructive comments improved this article. Illustrations were prepared by the Graphics staff of the Bureau of Economic Geology under the direction of Joel L. Lardon, Graphics Manager. Susann Doenges edited the manuscript. Published by permission of the director, Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin.


Deep-water sandstones of the Delaware Mountain Group in west Texas and southeast New Mexico contained an estimated 1.8 billion bbl of original oil in place, but primary recovery from these fields is commonly less than 20%. East Ford field in Reeves County, Texas, which produces from the Ramsey sandstone in the upper Bell Canyon Formation, went directly from primary production to tertiary recovery by CO2 flooding. Field production has increased from 30 to more than 185 BOPD. Oil recovery has been improved by the CO2 flood, but not as much as expected. Geologic heterogeneities such as interbedded siltstones are apparently influencing reservoir displacement operations in the East Ford unit.

A depositional model of the East Ford unit was developed using data from Bell Canyon outcrops and subsurface data. The Ramsey sandstones were deposited by turbidity currents in a basin-floor setting. The sandstones are interpreted as having been deposited in a channel-levee system that terminated in broad lobes; overbank splays filled topographically low interchannel areas. Injection wells located in splay sandstones apparently have poor communication with wells in channel sandstones, perhaps because communication is restricted through levee and channel-margin deposits. The south part of the unit is responding well to the flood because the injection and production wells are in the same interconnected lobe depositional environment.

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