Drilling near Delta will test potential of Mancos shale

Federal geologists plan to drill a core sample near Delta to assess the potential of a shale formation for oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Land Management has approved a proposal by the U.S. Geological Survey to extract a sample from the Mancos shale formation in the North Delta off-highway vehicle area about six miles northeast of Delta.

Drilling is set to start Oct. 24 and is expected to last five to 10 days.

The BLM said in a news release that the project is being done in accordance with the survey’s National Oil and Gas Assessment program.

Its goal is to test the theory that Mancos shale has oil and gas potential, and the data will help further define what is known about the Mancos shale resource in the area.

The Mancos shale is widespread underground or at the surface in western Colorado.

Within the Piceance Basin, it underlies a sandstone formation that has been widely drilled for natural gas.

Some energy companies have begun drilling into the Mancos in the Piceance with some success, after breakthroughs in shale gas development in other states.

The Mancos drilling differs from the oil shale projects that companies have undertaken over many decades in parts of the Piceance.

Those involve a different geological formation, the Green River, and entail heating up the shale to produce oil from kerogen trapped in the rock.

A truck-mounted drill rig will be used for the Geological Survey project and will drill from 500 to 1,300 feet deep.

An orange mesh plastic fence, signs and yellow caution tape will be used to mark the work site and protect the public in the area, which is widely used by off-highway vehicles.

The hole will be filled with a clay slurry topped with cement and the site reclaimed immediately after drilling concludes.


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