A Nonconventional CO2-EOR Target in the Illinois Basin: Oil Reservoirs of the Thick Cypress Sandstone


Melzer Rox Image

Stranded Oil In The Residual Oil Zone by L. Stephen Melzer, 2006

The United States Department of Energy’s (US DOE’s) Carbon Storage Program seeks to shift the carbon balance for carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) to net carbon negative oil (NCNO), a situation in which a greater amount of carbon is stored in geologic medium than is being produced through CO2-EOR. This study will focus on the identification of residual oil zones (ROZs) in the Illinois Basin (ILB) where relatively thin oil reservoirs occupy the tops of thick sandstone and are underlain by strong bottom-drive water aquifers. Within the ILB, the Cypress Sandstone, particularly the thick fluvial deltaic facies within the Fairfield Basin, shows extensive potential for CO2 storage and the promise of increased oil recovery in response to CO2-EOR. The study includes detailed geologic reservoir characterization to define CO2 storage potential, residual oil saturation, and CO2-EOR feasibility in oil reservoirs within the Cypress Sandstone of the ILB.

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This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under award number DE-FE0024431.

Project News and Updates

June 2017

Well site at Noble FieldGeologists partner with stakeholders, collect data to test new method of identifying oil reserves
A partnership months in the making has paid off. Geologists from the Prairie Research Institute collected data, called pulsed-neutron logs, on the thick Cypress Sandstone.


December 2016

Samples being tested with new equipmentNew core and equipment reveal reservoir properties of the Cypress Sandstone
Dmytro Lukhtai, an undergraduate in the Department of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been using a new porosimeter and permeameter and Dean-Stark extractors to collect data on recently acquired core samples.


September 2016

Drilling site for new core samples taken by the ISGSKey core samples acquired for identifying carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery and storage opportunities in Illinois
Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) researchers acquired roughly 162 feet of core samples from the Cypress Sandstone, a geologic formation in the Illinois Basin, for sedimentological and petrophysical study.

May 2016

Joshua ArnesonJoshua Arneson chosen to be UIUC Capitol Scholar
The Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) chose Joshua Arneson to be one of its 2016 Capitol Scholars.


January 2016

Geologists examining an outcrop of Cypress SandstoneQuantifying CO2 storage and enhanced oil recovery for the thick Cypress Sandstone: Outcrops in southern Illinois investigated for further sedimentological study
Nathan Webb, Kalin Howell, and John Grube conducted field investigations of Cypress Sandstone outcrops in southern Illinois.



Final Project Report

AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, May 21, 2019, San Antonio, TX

IEAHG Modeling and Risk Management Network Meeting, June 19-22, 2018, Grand Forks, ND

American Association of Petroleum Geologists Eastern Section Meeting, September 24-27, 2017, Morgantown, WV

11th International Conference on Fluvial Sedimentology, July 17–21, 2017, Calgary, Canada

71st Annual Illinois Oil and Gas Association Trade Show and Convention, March 2–3, 2017, Evansville, IN

Illinois Geological Society Meeting, October 21, 2016, Mt. Vernon, IL

American Association of Petroleum Geologists Eastern Section Meeting, September 25-27, 2016, Lexington, KY

NETL, Mastering the Subsurface Through Technology Innovation and Collaboration: Carbon Storage and Oil and Natural Gas Technologies Review Meeting, August 16-18, 2016, Pittsburgh, PA

  • August 2016 project review presentation (pdf) – Oral presentation given by Nathan Webb on the benefits of the project to the US Department of Energy Program, project overview, methodology, and accomplishments to date, such as water saturation profiles developed during petrophysical analysis; isopach maps developed during geologic modeling; and three-dimensional geocellular models that incorporate interpretations of depositional and diagenetic facies developed during geologic modeling.
  • Identifying indicators of residual oil zone formation in the Illinois Basin (pdf) – Poster presentation given by Nathan Webb that describes the project, thick Cypress Sandstone, petroleum migration/emplacement in the Cypress, potential ROZ-forming mechanisms in the Illinois Basin, and indicators to look for when identifying ROZs in the Illinois Basin.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Meeting, June 19–22, 2016, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

North-Central Geological Society of America Meeting, April 18-19, 2016, Champaign, IL

American Association of Petroleum Geologists Eastern Section Meeting, September 20-22, 2015, Indianapolis, IN

NETL Carbon Storage RD Project Review Meeting, August 18-20, 2015, Pittsburgh, PA

US DOE Project Kick-off Meeting, December 2014, Morgantown, WV

  • Project overview presentation (pdf) – Oral presentation given at the US DOE facility in Morgantown, WV, in December of 2014 at the inception of the project to provide an overview of the goals, objectives, tasks to be performed, and structure of the project.

Quarterly Reports







Core Data Visualization

A novel mechanism to disseminate the core data assembled in this project will be a website that includes a core image database which will function like an online core visualization lab. The core image database will include high-resolution imagery of the core as well as all collected core-related data (e.g., core description and routine porosity and permeability). This database will allow for viewing and comparing core from multiple wells at varying depths and will include the well construction information. As the project progresses and data is assembled from available core, the website will be updated with the interactive database described above.


Project Staff

Mr. Nathan Webb

  • Principal Investigator (PI) and Project Manager
  • Leads a team of geologists and reservoir modelers conducting geologic screening and geologic and geocellular modeling

Dr. Scott Frailey

  • Co-PI and participant in project management planning
  • Leads a team in the petrophysics research area and is a participant in oilfield screening, reservoir simulation, and CO2-EOR and storage estimation

Dr. Hannes Leetaru

  • Co-PI and participant in project management planning
  • Participates in oilfield screening, petrophysics, and geologic modeling tasks

Mr. Nathan Grigsby

  • Leads data synthesis, analysis work, and geocellular modeling
  • Integral part of geocellular and geologic modeling, reservoir simulation, and economics

Dr. Roland Okwen

  • Leads a team focused on reservoir engineering and modeling tasks
  • Coordinates geoceullar modeling and geology

Mr. Charles Monson

  • Leads a team focused on economic analyses of CO2-EOR scenarios

Mr. Christopher Korose

  • Leads a team focused on CO2-EOR and storage resource of the thick Cypress Sandstone in the Illinois Basin