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LGS Luncheon Sep 2020

Date: September 16th

Time: 11:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: The Petroleum Club of Lafayette


Multi-Scale Fault Control on Smackover Dolomitization at Big Escambia Creek Field, Alabama


James J. Willis, Ph.D.

Willis School of Applied Geoscience


Big Escambia Creek Field is a large, updip fault trap of the Smackover Formation located in southern Alabama.  Discovered in 1971, Big Escambia Creek’s cumulative production is currently 1.14 trillion cubic ft of gas and 70.6 million barrels of condensate.  The Pollard-Foshee fault system defines the northern boundary of the field at the upthrown and updip cutoff of the Smackover, which dips gently at about 1.4 degrees in a general south-southwesterly direction.  Production is dominantly from dolomitized limestone stringers with enhanced dolomization proximal to the Pollard-Foshee fault system with significant variability elsewhere in the field, often with wells in close proximity exhibiting dramatically different porosities.  High-resolution caliper log analysis of the overlying Haynesville-Buckner interval revealed stratigraphic assemblages associated with a system of small-scale growth faults (typically <25 ft of vertical separation) that trends approximately north-northwest within the field.  These faults influenced local dolomitization, proximal to the fault and preferentially on the upthrown sides.


James J. Willis received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Geology from the now University of Louisiana-Lafayette in 1989 and 1990, respectively, and his Ph.D. as a National Science Foundation fellow at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, in 1993, graduating with an overall university gpa of 4.0.  From 1994-1996, he studied planetary tectonics as a NASA-funded postdoctoral fellow at Southern Methodist University.  In 1996, he returned to UL-Lafayette, where he was awarded in 1997 the Hensarling-Chapman Endowed Professorship in Geology.  He began independent consulting activities in 1991, and in 2001 he left academia for full-time consulting for clients ranging from one-man shops to supermajors.  He rejoined UL-Lafayette as an adjunct professor from 2011-2018.  James has been an active researcher, receiving several million dollars in grants from federal, state, and industry sources, has presented numerous talks, including a 2019 AAPG Levorsen award, and has published on a diversity of geoscience topics, including two best paper awards with GCAGS.  He has been the GCAGS Publisher since 2006 and Managing Editor since 2011 and is serving as the General Chair for GeoGulf 2020.  He is a Past President of LGS and served as its Editor and Publisher for 16 years.  In 2018, he founded the Willis School of Applied Geoscience, reformulating decades of industry-training experience to include providing graduate students zero-cost training.  He also joined the LSU faculty as an adjunct professor in 2020.  He is the founder of a new professional organization, the Association of Applied Geoscientists.

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