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Niobrara Shale Play
Hart Energy Publishing, September 2011
The Niobrara Shale formation is part of the seaway that covered the Rocky Mountains during the Cretaceous period. It is present in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming in the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin and Powder River (PR) Basin. The Niobrara designation is used as an umbrella which also includes the Niobrara-Mowry Shale (PR), Niobrara formation (DJ and North Park basin), Hillard Baxter Mancos-Niobrara Shale (Green River Basin), Mancos Shale (Uinta Basin), Lewis Shale (San Juan) and Pierre-Niobrara (Ranton Basin).
The formation is interesting because it has several key characteristics in common with other successful shale oil plays such as Eagle Ford and Bakken/Three Forks. The Niobrara is the source rock for the formation under which it lies. It is also organic rich and organized in alternating layers of shale and chalk. For the rest of the report the focus will be on activity in the DJ Basin, PR Basin and, briefly, southwestern Wyoming. Although the region has a long production history, especially for the gassy parts such as the Wattenberg field and other areas where shallow biogenic gas exists, only recent Niobrara developments using unconventional techniques will be covered.