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Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 2007-8

Geochemical Trends in Gas Quality in Kansas

K. David Newell

KGS Open File Report 2007-8


Analysis of Kansas gas-chemistry data defines several regions that may have reserves of low-BTU gas (i.e., heating value <950 BTU/scf). About one-third of the 4600 compiled chemical analyses are less than 950 BTU/scf. With higher gas prices and new upgrading technologies, utilization of this low-BTU gas may be increasingly possible.

Low-BTU gas in this part of the Mid-Continent is primarily caused by high percentages of nitrogen and subsidiary helium. Argon and carbon dioxide can also be present, but they commonly compose less than 0.5% of the total gas.
Stratigraphic and spatial trends are evident. Percentages of noncombustible component gases and nitrogen-to-helium ratios increase with decreasing age of the producing formation. With several pay zones, low-BTU gas is more common on the Central Kansas uplift than in deeper geological provinces farther south. A rim of low-BTU gas is also present around the giant Hugoton Gas Field in southwestern Kansas.

Some possible low-BTU-gas plays include: Permian Chase Group west of the Central Kansas uplift and on the eastern side of the Hugoton Gas Field; Pennsylvanian Topeka Limestone and Permian Red Cave Sandstone in the vicinity of the Greenwood Gas Field; Cambrian-Ordovician Arbuckle, Pennsylvanian Lansing-Kansas City, Shawnee and Douglas Groups on the perimeter of the Central Kansas uplift and in sporadic localities in the southern Cherokee and Sedgwick basins; and Mississippian chat on the western flank of the Pratt anticline.

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Jenden, P.D., Newell, K.D., Kaplan, I.R., and Watney, W.L., 1988, Composition and stable-isotope geochemistry of natural gases from Kansas, Midcontinent, U.S.A.: Chemical Geology, v. 71, p. 117-147.

Merriam, D.F., 1963, The geologic history of Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 162, 317 p. [available online]

Moore, J.B., 1982, Analyses of natural gases, 1917-1980: United States Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 870, 1055 p.

Price, L., 1980, Shelf and shallow basin oil as related to hot-deep origin of petroleum: Journal of Petroleum Geology, v. 3, p. 91-116.

Rich, J.L., 1931, Function of carrier beds in long-distance migration of oil: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Bulletin, v. 15, p. 911-924.

Kansas Geological Survey, Energy Research
Last Modified April 2007
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