Date of Award

Fall 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Committee Chair

Burt Todd

First Advisor

Todd Hoffman

Second Advisor

David Reichhardt


Central Montana’s Devil’s Basin is the home of the first wildcat well in Montana. However, numerous operators have failed to recover economic oil reserves in the nearly 100- year history of the play. Analysis of the geologic conditions within the Devil’s Basin leads to a modern understanding of the charge, reservoir, and trap potentials of the greater Devil’s Basin petroleum play. Primary focus within the play is the Heath and Tyler Formations. Evaluation of previous exploration guides the end narrative of recommendations to direct future production in the Devil’s Basin.

A representative geologic model describing the southeastern portion of the Devil’s Basin anticline helped identify whether previous exploration/drilling was on target. Further examination into completion strategies and production values drive the failure analysis. Based on this study, we believe the Devil’s Basin is not suitable for economic oil development. Thermal immaturity and the large quantities of water produced with little oil to show for it suggest that time, money, and effort be concentrated farther east in the neighboring Sumatra fields which produce out of the Heath.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering