Some valuable data from Panhandle oil booms and busts past — real data you can touch, test and even taste if you are so inclined — will soon be available to future generations of explorationists.
The Oklahoma Geological Society Petroleum Center in Norman, Okla., is ready to begin cataloging a sizeable donation of core samples and related materials that had been warehoused for years.
Five years ago the cores, logs and other documents were saved from destruction and given to the Panhandle Geological Library, according to Tony Kolodziej, then-secretary and now vice president of AAPG's Mid-continent Section.
The library sample facility had been closed since 1993, so the cores were stored at an old airbase in Amarillo, Texas, Kolodziej said. They remained there, inaccessible, until OGS director and former AAPG vice president Charles Mankin expressed interest in obtaining the collection for the Norman center.
Kolodziej and Mankin wrote letters to companies, seeking help in paying for shipping the 36,000-pound gift. Four companies — Apache, Cabot, Devon and XTO — came through and the materials arrived recently in Norman.
Gene Coleman of the Norman core facility supervised the move.
The data are from wells in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle and southwestern Kansas areas and span decades of drilling.
"Some cores were from the Marlin Oil Co., so they're probably from the late 1930s," Kolodziej said.
Their value is more than merely historical, even in an age of high-tech visualization technology, Mankin and Kolodziej said.
The samples represent a "significant opportunity for old fields developed when production practices were not well understood," Mankin said.
Without pipelines for natural gas — which had little value then, anyway — early producers burned it off, losing reservoir pressure and leaving behind oil beyond the reach of their technology.
"There is a real opportunity for enhanced recovery, Mankin said.
"The logs are making assumptions," Kolodziej said.
"We'll be able to time what we see on the log data to the actual rock," he said.
"You can get porosity and permeability…we have a scanner to provide a look at fractures," Mankin said. "Then we can calibrate this with the geophysical logs."
The Petroleum Information Center's goal "is to preserve these and other data," he said.
In addition to materials like those donated by the Panhandle group, the center also preserves scout tickets, complete reports when available, maps from companies and individuals — "tens of thousands of records," Mankin said.
Kolodziej estimated it will take about two years to fully incorporate the Panhandle data into the system.
Paper items are scanned and digitized; cores are cataloged and bar-coded, and that information is loaded into a database so users can find a log's location and condition, Mankin said.
"We want to provide a one-stop shopping operation for exploration and redevelopment," Mankin said.
"It takes time to create a database of this scope," he added. "It's a lifetime project."