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Petroleum geology and resources of southeastern Mexico, northern Guatemala, and Belize

January 1, 1983

Petroleum deposits in southeastern Mexico and Guatemala occur in two main basinal provinces, the Gulf Coast Tertiary basin area, which includes the Reforma and offshore Campeche Mesozoic fields, and the Peten basin of eastern Chiapas State (Mexico) and Guatemala. Gas production is mainly from Tertiary sandstone reservoirs of Miocene age. Major oil production, in order of importance, is from Cretaceous, Paleocene, and Jurassic carbonate reservoirs in the Reforma and offshore Campeche areas. Several small oil fields have been discovered in Cretaceous carbonate reservoirs in west-central Guatemala, and one major discovery has been reported in northwestern Guatemala. Small- to medium-sized oil accumulations also occur in Miocene sandstone reservoirs on salt structures in the Isthmus Saline basin of western Tabasco State, Mexico. Almost all important production is in salt structure traps or on domes and anticlines that may be related to deep-seated salt structures. Some minor oil production has occurred in Cretaceous carbonate reservoirs in a buried overthrust belt along the west flank of the Veracruz basin.

The sedimentary cover of Paleozoic through Tertiary rocks ranges in thickness from about 6,000 m (20,000 ft) to as much as 12,000 m (40,000 ft) or more in most of the region. Paleozoic marine carbonate and clastic rocks 1,000 to 2,000 m (3,300 to 6,500 ft) thick overlie the metamorphic and igneous basement in part of the region; Triassic through Middle Jurassic red beds and evaporite deposits, including halite, apparently are present throughout the region, deposited in part in a Triassic graben system. Upper Jurassic (Oxfordian) through Cretaceous rocks make up the bulk of the Mesozoic regional carbonate bank complex, which dominates most of the area. Tertiary marine and continental clastic rocks, some of deep water origin, 3,000 to 10,000 m (10,000 to 35,000 ft) thick, are present in the coastal plain Tertiary basins. These beds grade eastward into a carbonate sequence that overlies the Mesozoic carbonate complex on the Yucatan platform.

During the past 10 years, about 50 large oil fields were discovered in the Reforma and offshore Campeche areas. Oil is produced from intensely microfractured Cretaceous, Paleocene, and Upper Jurassic dolomite reservoirs on blockfaulted salt swells or domes. Most fields are located in the

Mesozoic carbonate-bank margin and forebank talus (Tamabra) facies, which passes through the offshore Campeche and onshore Reforma areas. Oil source rocks are believed to be organic-rich shales and shaly carbonate rocks of latest Jurassic and possibly Early Cretaceous age. At least six of the Mesozoic discoveries are giant or supergiant fields. The largest is the Cantarell complex (about 8 billion to 10 billion barrels (BB)) in the offshore Campeche area and the Bermudez complex (about 8 BB) in the Reforma onshore area. Oil columns are unusually large (from 50 m to as much as 1,000 m, or 160 ft to 3,300 ft). Production rates are extremely high, averaging at least 3,000 to 5,000 barrels of oil per day (bo/d); some wells produce more than 20,000 bo/d, particularly in the offshore Campeche area, where 30,000- to 60,000-bo/d wells are reported.

Tertiary basin fields produce primarily from Miocene sandstone reservoirs. About 50 of these are oil fields ranging from 1 million barrels (MMB) to 200 MMB in size, located on faulted salt structures in the Isthmus Saline basin. Another 30 are gas or gas-condensate fields of a few billion cubic feet to 3 trillion to 4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) located on salt structures or probable salt structures in the Macuspana, Comalcalco, Isthmus Saline, and Veracruz basins. Source rocks for the gas are believed to be carbonaceous shales interbedded with the sandstone reservoir bodies.
Identified reserves in the southeastern Mexico-Guatemala
area, almost all in the Mesozoic fields, are about 53 BB of oil,
3 BB of natural gas liquids, and 65 Tcf of gas. The estimat

Publication Year 1983
Title Petroleum geology and resources of southeastern Mexico, northern Guatemala, and Belize
DOI 10.3133/cir760
Authors James A. Peterson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Circular
Series Number 760
Index ID cir760
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse