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Origin and geochemistry of formation waters from the lower Eagle Ford Group, Gulf Coast Basin, south central Texas

June 16, 2020

The lower Eagle Ford Group (LEFG) is one of the most productive continuous hydrocarbon plays in the United States but few associated produced waters data and minimal interpretation have been published. This effort focuses on results from compositional and isotopic data from 39 produced water samples collected from horizontal wells producing from the LEFG in south central Texas. The depth of the LEFG increases by approximately 1 km across the study area, from northwest (2.9 km) to southeast (3.9 km). Associated increases in calculated reservoir temperature (125-165 C), development of reservoir over-pressuring (400-800 bars total pressure), and increased thermal maturity (heavy oil to gas condensate) also occur along this trend. Produced water salinity starts at nearly 100 g/L in the shallowest samples and decreases linearly with depth to <35 g/L. Comparison of Br/Cl and ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr data between LEFG produced waters and the Louann salt, suggests that halite recycling is the mechanism behind salinity greater than seawater. Decreasing salinity with depth and thermal maturity in the Gulf Coast Basin have previously been shown to be a result of release of inter-layer water during smectite to illite conversion. The produced water samples show increasing 18O and decreasing 2H with depth, which is attributed temperature-dependent isotope fractionation of O and H exchange between seawater and clays and calcite with increasing temperature. Multiple sources of data indicate that the waters in the LEFG are not connate, but rather entered the unit prior to smectite-illite conversion. Presence of allochthonous water in many major tight oil and shale gas plays in the U.S., including the LEFG, suggests there is unknown mechanism allowing for water advection into low permeability reservoirs.

Publication Year 2020
Title Origin and geochemistry of formation waters from the lower Eagle Ford Group, Gulf Coast Basin, south central Texas
DOI 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2020.119754
Authors Mark A Engle, Colin A. Doolan, Janet K. Pitman, Matthew S. Varonka, Jessica Chenault, William H. Orem, Peter B. McMahon, Aaron M. Jubb
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Chemical Geology
Index ID 70211077
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Energy Resources Science Center; Colorado Water Science Center; Eastern Energy Resources Science Center