Introduction

Hydrocarbon production from organic-rich reservoirs has become an important economic objective for oil and gas companies operating within North America. Currently, E&P companies have extended exploration and exploitation activities to include additional regions within Europe, South America, Asia, and the Middle East. Reservoir characterization provides important geologic and engineering parameters required to assist in economic evaluation of unconventional hydrocarbon productive formations.

One important current region of E&P company activity is the Williston basin (Figure 1) located in the states of North Dakota and Montana and extending northward into Canada. The Williston basin has undergone a significant increase in recent drilling activity in the Bakken petroleum system, with oil and gas production from that system increasing over 10 fold in the last decade. The Bakken play of North Dakota and Montana is a complex, high-potential, unconventional resource oil play consisting of a low-matrix-permeability dolostone/siltstone located between two organic-rich Devonian/Lower Mississippian shales. Bakken oil production was discovered to date in four principal phases of exploration.

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