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Potential for deep basin-centered gas accumulation in Travis Peak (Hosston) Formation, Gulf Coast Basin, U.S.A.

May 1, 2003

The potential of Lower Cretaceous sandstones of the Travis Peak Formation in the northern Gulf Coast Basin to harbor a basin-centered gas accumulation was evaluated by examining (1) the depositional and diagenetic history and reservoir properties of Travis Peak sandstones, (2) the presence and quality of source rocks for generating gas, (3) the burial and thermal history of source rocks and time of gas generation and migration relative to tectonic development of Travis Peak traps, (4) gas and water recoveries from drill-stem and formation tests, (5) the distribution of abnormal pressures based on shut-in-pressure data, and (6) the presence or absence of gas-water contacts associated with gas accumulations in Travis Peak sandstones.

The Travis Peak Formation (and correlative Hosston Formation) is a basinward-thickening wedge of terrigenous clastic sedimentary rocks that underlies the northern Gulf Coast Basin from eastern Texas across northern Louisiana to southern Mississippi. Clastic influx was focused in two main fluvial-deltaic depocenters—one located in northeastern Texas and the other in southeastern Mississippi and northeastern Louisiana. Across the main hydrocarbon-productive trend in eastern Texas and northern Louisiana, the Travis Peak Formation is about 2,000 ft thick.

Most Travis Peak hydrocarbon production in eastern Texas comes from drilling depths between 6,000 and 10,000 ft. Significant decrease in porosity and permeability occurs through that depth interval. Above 8,000-ft drilling depth in eastern Texas, Travis Peak sandstone matrix permeabilities often are significantly higher than the 0.1-millidarcy (mD) cutoff that characterizes tight-gas reservoirs. Below 8,000 ft, matrix permeability of Travis Peak sandstones is low because of pervasive quartz cementation, but abundant natural fractures impart significant fracture permeability.

Although pressure data within the middle and lower Travis Peak Formation are limited in eastern Texas, overpressured reservoirs caused by thermal generation of gas, typical of basin-centered gas accumulations, are not common in the Travis Peak Formation. Significant overpressure was found in only one Travis Peak sandstone reservoir in 1 of 24 oil and gas fields examined across eastern Texas and northern Louisiana.

The presence of gas-water contacts is perhaps the most definitive criterion indicating that a gas accumulation is conventional rather than a “sweet spot” within a basin-centered gas accumulation. Hydrocarbon-water contacts within Travis Peak sandstone reservoirs were documented in 17 fields and probably occur in considerably more fields across the productive Travis Peak trend in eastern Texas and northern Louisiana. All known hydrocarbon-water contacts in Travis Peak reservoirs in eastern Texas, however, occur within sandstones in the upper 500 ft of the formation. Although no gas-water contacts have been reported within the lower three-fourths of the Travis Peak Formation in northeastern Texas, gas production from that interval is limited. The best available data suggest that  most middle and lower Travis Peak sandstones are water bearing in northeastern Texas.

Insufficient hydrocarbon charge relative to permeability of Travis Peak reservoirs might be responsible for lack of overpressure and basin-centered gas within the Travis Peak Formation. Shales interbedded with Travis Peak sandstones in eastern Texas are primarily oxidized flood-plain deposits with insufficient organic-carbon content to be significant sources of oil and gas. The most likely source rocks for hydrocarbons in Travis Peak reservoirs are two stratigraphically lower units, the Jurassic-age Bossier Shale of the Cotton Valley Group, and laminated, lime mudstones of the Jurassic Smackover Formation. Hydrocarbon charge, therefore, might be sufficient for development of conventional gas accumulations, but it is insufficient for development of basin-centered gas as a result of the absence of proximal source rocks and a lack of effective migration pathways from stratigraphically or geographically distant source rocks. 

Publication Year 2003
Title Potential for deep basin-centered gas accumulation in Travis Peak (Hosston) Formation, Gulf Coast Basin, U.S.A.
DOI 10.3133/b2184E
Authors Charles E. Bartberger, Thaddeus S. Dyman, Steven M. Condon
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Bulletin
Series Number 2184
Index ID b2184E
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse