Kansas Petroleum Atlas

Results & Discussion


Major DPA Paths & Pages

Navigation Style

Technology Transfer / Conclusions

References Cited

Appendix A: Selected Abstracts

Appendix B: Selected Email Feedback

Executive Summary

The Digital Petroleum Atlas (DPA) Project is in the second year of a long-term effort to develop a new methodology to provide efficient and timely access to the latest petroleum data and technology for the domestic oil and gas industry, public sector research organizations and local governmental units. The DPA provides real-time access through the Internet using widely available tools such as World-Wide-Web browsers. The latest technologies and information are "published" electronically when individual project components are completed removing the lag and expense of transferring technology using traditional paper publication. Active links, graphical user interfaces and database search mechanisms of the DPA provide a product with which the operator can interact in ways that are impossible in the paper publication. Contained in the DPA are forms of publication that can only be displayed in an electronic environment (for example, relational searches based on geologic and engineering criteria). Improvement in data and technology access for the domestic petroleum industry represents one of the best and cost-effective options that is available for mitigating the continued decline in domestic production.

Year 2 of the DPA project concentrated on improving the structure, methodologies and computerized procedures to generate and to "publish" an expanded set of field and play studies concentrated in Kansas. The previous fields generated in year 1 of the project remain and have been enhanced. These fields include Arroyo Field (Morrowan), Stanton County; Big Bow Field (St. Louis), Grant and Stanton counties; and Gentzler Field (Morrowan), Stevens County. Kansas fields added to the DPA in year two include Amazon Ditch and Terry fields (Lansing-Kansas City, Mississippian and Morrowan), Finney County; Schaben Field (Mississippian) Ness County; and an area of small Lansing-Kansas City fields in Lane County. Access is provided through the DPA to oil and gas information covering all the fields and counties in Kansas. Methodologies developed in year two of the DPA Project provide improved access to a "published" product and ongoing technology transfer activity that is continuously updated with the latest information and technology.

Through complete and flexible user access to technology, interpretative products and the underlying geologic and petroleum data, the DPA alters the relationship between interpretative result and data, between technology generation and application.


The United States obtained 85 percent of its energy from fossil fuels in 1995, nearly 40 percent from oil alone (of which half was imported), and 24 percent from natural gas (President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, 1997). U.S. fossil fuel dependence, like that of the rest of the world, will decline only slowly in the future. It has been estimated that fossil fuels will provide two-thirds of all world energy needs in 2030 and half or more in 2100 (EIA, 1997). U.S. oil imports, according to the "reference" forecast of the Department of Energy, would grow from 9 million barrels per day in 1995 to 14 million barrels per day in 2015 and continue to increase for some time thereafter. The Digital Petroleum Atlas program addresses many of the issues of insuring a secure U.S. oil and gas supply as outlined by the report of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, 1997).

The US and the Northern Mid-continent have large remaining oil and particularly gas resources in numerous reservoirs. A higher percentage of original oil and gas in place can be produced if old and new data and knowledge are made available to operators. Basic data and innovative developments in technology need to be directly accessible to assist operators in day-to-day decisions. The Kansas Geological Survey is working with the U. S. Department of Energy to create a Digital Petroleum Atlas to meet these information needs. The atlas proposed is unique in that it provides to independent operators on-line digital and hard copy information, digital data bases, new cutting-edge scientific study of typical fields of the region and purposeful technology transfer. The atlas also provides to independent operators an evaluation of the technologies that is best suited for additional oil and gas recovery. Information is available when and where operators need it (literally on the operator's desk).

During the past few years, the United States economy has performed beyond most expectations. A shrinking budget deficit, low interest rates, a stable macroeconomic environment, expanding international trade with fewer barriers, and effective private sector management are all credited with playing a role in this healthy economic performance. Many observers believe advances in information technology (IT), driven by the growth of the Internet, have also contributed to creating this healthier-than-expected economy. In recent testimony to Congress, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan noted, "...our nation has been experiencing a higher growth rate of productivity—output per hour—worked in recent years. The dramatic improvements in computing power and communication and information technology appear to have been a major force behind this beneficial trend." The Digital Petroleum Atlas is one attempt to bring these advances in information technology to the independent oil and gas operator.

Completion of the project for Kansas will provide a tool to enhance Kansas oil and gas production. The demonstration of the digital petroleum atlas will also enable similar projects to be instituted in other petroleum producing areas, so that a geographically broad on-line digital database will be available to domestic operators. The ultimate goal is a national digital petroleum atlas.

Short of conducting a full-scale reservoir analysis of each producing field, an efficient and effective method of communicating key information to operators is by example. For each reservoir type in a producing region, a thoroughly studied and documented analog can illustrate geologic and engineering procedures that are likely to be most successful in increasing ultimate recovery. An analog example provides operators with sufficient information and procedures to study producing fields, and increase production and ultimate recovery by modifying and applying proven methods. One way to accomplish the goal of disseminating information by analog is to provide a digital on-line geological and engineering based, state-of-the-art, petroleum atlas that contains not only historical data and descriptions, but technologically advanced syntheses and analyses of "why reservoirs produce" and "how ultimate production may be increased." This is a national need. A digital petroleum atlas is an efficient and effective vehicle to provide access to legacy databases and innovative knowledge that can be used by the operator.

The traditional role of technical publication is to formalize and record scientific and technical results in time, and to transfer technology to potential users (9). The published petroleum atlas is a time honored approach to illustrating by analog the latest petroleum exploration and development knowledge and application. References 1 through # are notable compilations of reservoir, field and play studies. Similar proprietary compilations are common at major petroleum companies. The underlying goals of these petroleum atlases have been to:

  • Synthesize information on major reservoirs, fields, plays and basins;
  • Assist in efficient exploration and development by increasing technical knowledge of trapping, discovery and production of oil and gas;
  • Serve as analogs for reservoirs, fields and plays similar to those described; and
  • Provide an overview and introduction to the various petroleum basins described.

The traditional published atlas is a time consuming and expensive process that results in static paper product. Typically, products and data are limited by space and cost considerations to summary information at the field or reservoir level. For each play, field or reservoir only a relatively small number of author-selected maps, cross-sections, charts and other summary data are included. Typically, the paper atlas does not provide access to well and lease data or to intermediate research products (such as digital geographic and geologic components of maps, interpreted and uninterpreted subsurface data, well test analyses, thin section images, and other traditionally unpublished material). Without access to the data and intermediate products, modifying and updating a published field study to fit a user-defined application or new scientific idea is a difficult and time consuming process.

Today, traditional channels of scientific and technical communication represented by the petroleum atlas are being challenged by the shear volume of publication, the increased unit costs, the relatively decreased resources of academic and industrial library systems, and the rapidity of technical change (10). In addition, the growth of networks, storage servers, printers, and software that make up the Internet are rapidly changing the world from one in which research organizations, publishers and libraries control the printing, distribution, and archiving to a world in which individuals can rapidly and cheaply "publish", provide access and modify scientific results on-line. These changes offer significant challenges and opportunities both to public and private sector participants and to the traditions of technical publication (11).

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November 1999
URL: http://www.kgs.ku.edu/DPA/Reports/intro.html