Home >> Research Programs >> Energy and Environment >> Energy Systems and Technologies >> Advanced Process & Decision Systems >> Fossil Energy >> Exploration & Production

Exploration & Production

Transportation of Hydrocarbon Indicators by Migrating Formation Waters in Selected Basins of the Four Corners Region

Increasingly, oil exploration is accessing remote areas where hydrocarbon potential is poorly recognized or unknown. A method will be developed and demonstrated in the field consisting of an inexpensive geochemical exploration technique based on distribution of hydrocarbon indicators mobilized from oil-water contact zone by hydrodynamic drive and migrating down the gradient.

There is a good potential for finding new oil accumulations and testing a novel approach to the geochemical exploration technique in selected candidate sedimentary basins surrounding the Four Corner platform area, namely the Paradox, San Juan, Kaiparowits, and Black Mesa basins in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Topography-driven, deep basinal flow of fluids and convective heat flow anomalies have been documented in the region. Highly soluble and mobile aromatic hydrocarbons (BTEX) are present in virtually every type of petroleum. Their presence in "dry" wells and soils along the regional fluid flow path indicates proximity to oil accumulations. The hydrodynamic effect on mass transport was neglected in earlier applications of the geochemical method. Quantifying the distribution of flow directions and rates is critical for successful interpretation of geochemical results.

It is anticipated that simulation of fluid flow along crosswise-oriented geologic profiles, combined with geochemical measurements of oil indicators in ground waters and soils, will dramatically improve the method and accuracy of exploration results. To demonstrate how the BTEX distribution relates to the regional hydrodynamic trends, a set of formation water and soil samples will be analyzed up-and-down the flow gradient near oil productive areas.

Page Contact Information:

Department of energy

DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE-Idaho Office