Discovery GeoServices Corporation

Always searching for a better way (since 1980)

Founded in 1980, Discovery GeoServices Corporation (“DGSC”) is a highly experienced oil and gas exploration consulting firm and exploration company. Through its president, Michael (“Mike”) Lewis, the company has played a principle role in several major discoveries and developments, most notably the initiation of the Middle Bakken Play in Montana with Lyco Energy Corporation in 1999. With the “boom” in unconventional reservoir types (shale, CBM, fractured carbonates, tight sandstones, etc.), DGSC is applying its experience in several areas in Europe and North America.

DGSC provides geological services like prospect generation, evaluation, selection and support, but also has a long history with project management and oil and gas field operations.
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DGSC was formed in December 1980 to provide wellsite geological support for various operators in the North Texas area. Seizing the opportunity of those “boom times”, Discovery rapidly expanded into drilling and operating, with over 500 wells  in its care by 1985. The firm drilled several new field discoveries, from south Texas to the Williston Basin.

From 1986 through 1988, Discovery focused primarily on research and development of oil and gas potential in the fractured Mancos Shale with Gary Williams Company in the San Juan Basin and the Mission Canyon on the eastern flank of the Williston Basin, both of which resulted in successful drilling. The company focused primarily on the Williston Basin from 1993 through 1996.

After a buyout of DGSC's Williston Basin interests by Lyco Energy in 1996, Mr. Lewis (the president) served as VP-Exploration for Lyco, where he was responsible for the initiation of the extremely successful and famous Middle Bakken Play in the Williston Basin, which is now producing over 1 Million BOPD from prolific horizontal wells.

Then, with GeoFocus from 2004 to 2006, the company identified and directed Brigham and others into very successful areas of the Middle Bakken Play.

From 2007 to 2012, DGSC worked on shale gas in Europe as the chief geologist for 3Legs Resources, which has drilled 4 vertical and 2 horizontal wells on its million acres, in evaluation of a very large shale gas deposit in the Baltic Basin of northern Poland. Additional testing is underway, but looks quite favorable.

DGSC's geo-team originally began working together in 2009, but this relationship has now been formalized. In this picture, the geo-team is standing in front of the very first oil-well, dug at Bóbrka Field in southern Poland in 1854. It doesn't get much more historical than that!

Areas in which DGSC has actively worked on projects includes the following:

Conventional Locales

Basins in which DGSC personnel have performed conventional hydrocarbon exploration and development activities (drilling) include:

Arkoma Basin
Anadarko Basin
Appalachian Basin
Baltic Basin (Poland)
Big Horn Basin
Carpathians (Poland, Slovakia and Romania)
Cherokee Basin
Cooper-Eromanga Basin (Australia)
Dalhart Basin
Denver Basin
East Texas Basin
Fort Worth Basin / Bend Arch
Green River Basin
Illinois Basin
Laramie Basin
Lower Silesian Basin (Poland)
Lublin Basin (Poland)
McAlester Basin
Midland Basin / Eastern Shelf
Paradox Basin
Powder River Basin
San Juan Basin
Sedgewick Basin
Texas Gulf Coast Basins
Tyler Basin
Western Gulf Embayment
Williston Basin
Wind River Basin

"Unconventional" Locales

Basins in which DGSC has worked for "unconventional" or shale resources include:

Arkoma Basin (Fayetteville and Woodford-Caney Shale)
Appalachian Basin (Devonian & Marcellus Shales)
Baltic Basin (Poland)
Denver Basin (Niobrara Shale)
Fort Worth Basin (Barnett Shale)
Illinois Basin (New Albany Shale)
Lower Silesian Basin (Poland)
Lublin Basin (Poland)
Michigan Basin (Antrim Shale)
Paradox Basin (Hermosa, Hovenweep and Cane Creek Shales)
San Juan Basin (Lewis/Mancos Shale)
Williston Basin (Bakken and Heath Shales)
A brief history of the genesis of the Middle Bakken Play is as follows:

Like many geologists, Dick Findley had been doing geological mapping in the Williston Basin. He and his company formulated an idea to drill a well to test the Nisku limestone, which is just below the Bakken in the mid-1990's. They raised the money and drilled the well, but it came up non-commercial. While drilling, they got good oil shows through the Bakken. So, Dick researched the Bakken in the area for several months, keying off a very astute paper written by F. Meissner in 1978, Petroleum Geology of the Bakken Formation Williston Basin, North Dakota and Montana, in the economic geology of the Williston Basin: The Montana Geological Society 24th Annual Conference, 1978 Williston Basin Symposium, p. 207-227. Extrapolating from that paper, which generally identified the prospective area (now the Elm Coulee Field), Dick refined the idea to an area of about 150,000 acres (about 1/3rd of Richland County, MT) that contained unusual development in the Middle Bakken, with an unusually high porosity, and which had produced significantly in three vertical wells in the area.

Meridian, a/k/a Burlington (the railroad company) had drilled many horizontal wells in the Bakken about 20 miles to the southeast, targeting the upper shale portion of the zone, but with poor results. Notably, they did not fracture stimulate (frac) the wells. Dick's idea, based on the Meissner paper, was to focus on the Middle Bakken, a carbonate between the Upper and Lower Shales. The shales are very rich in organic material, and the oil generated from them migrated into this carbonate.

Based on this concept, Dick presented the idea of re-completing the well that he and his company had drilled, but in the Middle Bakken interval. He named it the "Sleeping Giant" prospect. He presented the concept to several companies, and, with DGSC's advice, Lyco Energy Corporation purchased the idea and tested the zone. Mr. Lewis (DGSC president) as the VP Exploration and geologist for Lyco, was assigned to lead this project. With encouraging results from that re-completion, Lyco then leased much of the area and re-entered 7 wells, completing each in the Bakken zone. It was quickly determined that the zone required fracture stimulation (fraccing) in order to produce commercially. These fracced vertical wells had mixed results, but averaged about 100,000 barrels of projected oil reserves per well. Oil was only about $15/barrel, so these results were not particularly attractive, and did not justify the drilling of new vertical wells.

At this point, the Bakken was known only as a potential secondary zone, which might help an operator recover a portion of the drilling costs from a dry or depleted well. It was not a drilling target, except in the case of the Burlington wells discussed above.

Because of the marginal results from the vertical wells, and because of the significant investment in 100,000 acres of leases, Bobby Lyle (president of Lyco Energy) was unwilling to give up on the concept. Lyco researched horizontal drilling, finding no examples of people who had successfully fracced horizontal wells, and went to work determining how this might be done.

After two years trying to determine how to make the play work (1998-99), Lyco and Halliburton became convinced that a horizontal well in the Bakken could be fracced successfully, and that it would be commercially productive. So, the team drilled the first well in 1999 (the Burning Tree - State #36-10), drilled about 850' of horizontal and opened it for production. Surprisingly, the well flowed at considerable rates for quite some time, and even more after a frac. The play had begun!

Lyco drilled several wells before a competitor (Headington) decided to try the same concept on some of its leases in the area. They were also successful. The play grew rapidly as Lyco and Halliburton worked hard at applying technology to improve the results. By 2004, the play had more than 14 drilling rigs running and was producing about 50,000 barrels per day. The original area was named the "Elm Coulee Field" by the Montana oil and gas commission, and it has already produced more than 100 million barrels of oil.

Beginning in 2004, oil and gas companies began applying this technology in the Bakken in other areas of the Williston Basin with limited success. Finally, EOG "cracked the code" for the Bakken outside of Elm Coulee, where the rock is much poorer quality, and found another area that appeared to be even better than Elm Coulee, in North Dakota. Since then, Brigham and others have applied additional technological improvements, and the play is exploding throughout the basin, now making over 1 Million BOPD.

The Bakken was evaluated by the USGS, and has been given status as one of the premier oil fields in the US, all growing from Lyco's first efforts at Elm Coulee. This truly was a Sleeping Giant!