ISGS Publication Spurs Oil Production in Central Illinois
A very significant region of oil production in Illinois has been discovered in the southeast margin of an old productive area, resulting from ISGS geologic investigations that characterized the petroleum reservoir. Known as the Mt. Auburn Trend in central Illinois, it extends for nearly 40 miles from central Macon County across northern Christian County and encompasses several oilfields, which have produced more than 18 million barrels of oil. The trend is currently experiencing a third phase of development following drilling booms in the late 1940s to mid-1950s and the late 1960s to early 1980s
From the early 1980s to 2010, the search for oil in the area was very sporadic: just prior to 2010, only one or two permits per year for oil and gas exploration were issued along the Mt. Auburn Trend. But from 2010 to the present, the number of permits rose sharply to more than 60 in 2012 and to 27 thus far in 2013 (with 10 in May 2013 alone). Renewed interest in exploration was spurred by ISGS work on the Mt. Auburn Trend by Yaghoob Lasemi et al., in which a model was presented showing several stacked lenticular petroleum reservoirs. The model was based on how the oil-producing rocks (in this case, porous dolomites) were formed and deposited, how seawater percolated into the sediments, and how this process was tied to sea-level fluctuations, all providing an important predictive tool for exploration
The 2010 model resulted in the completion of a number of prolific wells in 2011 and 2012. In Macon County, four wells produced more than 295,000 barrels of oil from April 2011 to December 2012. In Christian County, two wells produced more than 160,000 barrels of oil during 2012. Moreover, the potential for new discoveries appears to be excellent in the region because the model helps define the approximate location of potential reservoirs in unexplored areas of the Mt. Auburn Trend.