ENGAGING A TRIBAL COLLEGE IN THE ASSESSMENT OF OIL AND GAS RESOURCES ON A SIOUX INDIAN RESERVATION
The Niobrara is a significant play in Colorado and Wyoming, but is not produced commercially in South Dakota. Project objectives were to characterize the stratigraphy, composition, depositional environments, reservoir properties, regional trends, structural features, and potentially-productive areas of the formation on the reservation. Several professors and research scientists provided guidance to undergraduate STEM students, graduate geology students, and post-graduate interns. Niobrara drill cores were sampled at the USGS core library, and the state geological survey provided access to new core from the Niobrara Formation south of Presho, SD. Although relatively shallow under the reservation, the Niobrara may contain as much as 6% organic matter with a thermal maturity in the biogenic gas window. Any energy development on tribal land would require environmental monitoring, which has also engaged students. The Niobrara at Rosebud is not anticipated to produce large amounts of gas that would justify a pipeline connection. The gas will have to be used locally, prompting additional research on utilization technology. The relatively inexpensive drilling costs may provide the tribe with a secure and economical energy supply, suggesting an approach for stranded gas development that could be applied elsewhere.