LAST CHANCE! June 13 DGS Luncheon: Michael Braunscheidel

06/13/2024 @ 11:30 am – 1:15 pm


Date(s) - 06/13/2024
11:30 am - 1:15 pm

Wynkoop Brewing Company


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Michael Braunscheidel*1, Lesli Wood1, Ron Bianco2 1 Colorado School of Mines, 2 Fasken Ranch Oil and Gas

Clastic submarine mass failures have been given a lot of attention by researchers in the past 20 years, however carbonate submarine mass failures (CMF) suffer from limited research. The relative lack of understanding of the role CMFs play in a basin’s processes and fill, in reservoir and seal nature and hydrocarbon generation and migration has implications for many petroleum basins worldwide (i.e. Kazakhstan, SE Asia, E. Mediterranean) including the Permian basin of West Texas. The Permian Basin is one of the world’s most prolific oil and natural gas producing regions with daily production exceeding 6 million barrels per day and 24 billion cubic feet of gas per day (US Energy Information Administration, 2024).

Mass failure deposits (i.e., debrites, slumps, slides, blocks) appear to be ubiquitous features of the Permian Basin (both the Delaware and Midland basins). Although minimally documented in literature (Allen et al. (2013), Bhatnagar et al. (2019), Grammer (2013), and Walker et al. (2021)) they are common topics of conversation among basin workers. Processes associated with CMF initiation, transport and deposition play both positive and negative roles in a basin’s productivity. A CMF in the Delaware basin is known to produce unconventional hydrocarbons at higher rates than surrounding age-equivalent turbidite deposits (Allen et al. (2013)). Such fracture production is unique to CMFs and is not seen in siliciclastic failure deposits.  The zone of enhanced fracture production is specifically associated with the CMF’s contractional toe and serves as inspiration for the initial focus of our analysis in the Midland Basin.

This study examines the nature of CMFs in the western Midland Basin using a modern 3D PSDM dataset integrated with well penetrations and petrophysical data.  For this talk, we specifically focus on the largest of multiple CMFs located within the study area; herein termed the Midland Failure.  The Midland Failure (upper Leonardian) covers ~5-15 miles, averages ~350’ thickness and overlies the Upper Spraberry Formation.  Well penetrations indicate the Midland Failure sediments are made of calcareous and siliclastic sediments (Bhatnagar et al., 2019).  Gas shows and elevated pressure during drilling have been observed for some wells in the Midland Failure (Bianco, pers. Comm, 2024). This preliminary study addresses specific questions surrounding the Midland Failure including influence on underlying strata, mechanical properties, fracture nature, and geophysical and sedimentologic properties. This work can be used to speculate on roles in hydrocarbon trapping and hydrocarbon hosting. We also examine how this mass failure impacts accommodation for post-emplacement sediments and implications for overlying reservoirs (termed healing phase deposits by Wood, et al., 2015).  This work is designed to understand both how the Midland Failure impacts the hydrocarbon system as deposited in the Midland Basin and as a potential analog in other basins.


Mike Braunscheidel is a geologist with extensive experience integrating geologic, geophysical, petrophysical, reservoir and production datasets for subsurface characterization and monetization. Mike studied contractional structures at Washington and Lee University and salt tectonics at the University of Texas at Austin before beginning a ten plus year career in oil and gas working at ExxonMobil.  At ExxonMobil, Mike worked on world class deep-water projects at the exploration, production and development scales.  These experiences spanned the globe across multiple prolific hydrocarbon basins & diverse geologic settings including Brazil’s salt basins, offshore Gulf of Mexico, Nigeria and Guyana.  A proven oil finder, in 2016 Mike was the prospect geologist for the 3rd largest oil & gas discovery worldwide.  During his time at Exxon, Mike gained extensive operational experience including planning & executing vertical and horizontal well programs, geo-steering, designing downhole data collection strategies including LWD, wireline and collecting whole core on-the-fly.  Mike’s biggest passion from his time at Exxon is developing sound interpretation strategies through rigorous integration of well-log data, rock property modeling, and geologic concepts to understand seismic reflectivity and impedance structures.   Mike returned to academia and began working on his PhD at the Colorado School of Mines studying submarine mass failure deposits in the Permian Basin with his advisor Dr. Lesli Wood and the Reservoir Characterization Project (RCP) in August of 2023.  This summer Mike is working as a development geologist for Fervo Energy supporting the Cape Development project in Milford, Utah. Outside of geology, Mike enjoys reading about history and geopolitics, video games, hiking, backpacking, white-water tubing, kayaking, spending time with his godsons, and cheering for the Buffalo Bills.


Doors open at 11:30 am.  Meeting and presentation starts at 12 pm.





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