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Title: Geologic, geochemical, and geographic controls on NORM in produced water from Texas oil, gas, and geothermal reservoirs. Final report

Abstract

Water from Texas oil, gas, and geothermal wells contains natural radioactivity that ranges from several hundred to several thousand Picocuries per liter (pCi/L). This natural radioactivity in produced fluids and the scale that forms in producing and processing equipment can lead to increased concerns for worker safety and additional costs for handling and disposing of water and scale. Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) in oil and gas operations are mainly caused by concentrations of radium-226 ({sup 226}Ra) and radium-228 ({sup 228}Ra), daughter products of uranium-238 ({sup 238}U) and thorium-232 ({sup 232}Th), respectively, in barite scale. We examined (1) the geographic distribution of high NORM levels in oil-producing and gas-processing equipment, (2) geologic controls on uranium (U), thorium (Th), and radium (Ra) in sedimentary basins and reservoirs, (3) mineralogy of NORM scale, (4) chemical variability and potential to form barite scale in Texas formation waters, (5) Ra activity in Texas formation waters, and (6) geochemical controls on Ra isotopes in formation water and barite scale to explore natural controls on radioactivity. Our approach combined extensive compilations of published data, collection and analyses of new water samples and scale material, and geochemical modeling of scale Precipitation and Ra incorporation in barite.

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Texas Univ., Austin, TX (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE, Washington, DC (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
83017
Report Number(s):
DOE/MT/92011-12
ON: DE95000178
DOE Contract Number:
AC22-92MT92011
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: Aug 1995
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
02 PETROLEUM; 03 NATURAL GAS; 15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY; OIL WELLS; WASTE WATER; NATURAL GAS WELLS; NATURAL RADIOACTIVITY; URANIUM 238; RADIOECOLOGICAL CONCENTRATION; THORIUM 232; RADIUM 226; RADIUM 228; GEOTHERMAL WELLS; NUMERICAL DATA; BARITE; MINERALOGY; TEXAS; US GULF COAST; HEALTH HAZARDS; CHEMICAL ANALYSIS; PROGRESS REPORT; Geothermal Legacy

Citation Formats

Fisher, R. Geologic, geochemical, and geographic controls on NORM in produced water from Texas oil, gas, and geothermal reservoirs. Final report. United States: N. p., 1995. Web. doi:10.2172/83017.
Fisher, R. Geologic, geochemical, and geographic controls on NORM in produced water from Texas oil, gas, and geothermal reservoirs. Final report. United States. doi:10.2172/83017.
Fisher, R. 1995. "Geologic, geochemical, and geographic controls on NORM in produced water from Texas oil, gas, and geothermal reservoirs. Final report". United States. doi:10.2172/83017. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/83017.
@article{osti_83017,
title = {Geologic, geochemical, and geographic controls on NORM in produced water from Texas oil, gas, and geothermal reservoirs. Final report},
author = {Fisher, R.},
abstractNote = {Water from Texas oil, gas, and geothermal wells contains natural radioactivity that ranges from several hundred to several thousand Picocuries per liter (pCi/L). This natural radioactivity in produced fluids and the scale that forms in producing and processing equipment can lead to increased concerns for worker safety and additional costs for handling and disposing of water and scale. Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) in oil and gas operations are mainly caused by concentrations of radium-226 ({sup 226}Ra) and radium-228 ({sup 228}Ra), daughter products of uranium-238 ({sup 238}U) and thorium-232 ({sup 232}Th), respectively, in barite scale. We examined (1) the geographic distribution of high NORM levels in oil-producing and gas-processing equipment, (2) geologic controls on uranium (U), thorium (Th), and radium (Ra) in sedimentary basins and reservoirs, (3) mineralogy of NORM scale, (4) chemical variability and potential to form barite scale in Texas formation waters, (5) Ra activity in Texas formation waters, and (6) geochemical controls on Ra isotopes in formation water and barite scale to explore natural controls on radioactivity. Our approach combined extensive compilations of published data, collection and analyses of new water samples and scale material, and geochemical modeling of scale Precipitation and Ra incorporation in barite.},
doi = {10.2172/83017},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 1995,
month = 8
}

Technical Report:

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  • Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) in water, sludge, and scale from Texas oil, gas, and geothermal wells can increase concern for worker safety as well as handling and disposal costs. We combined published data, new analyses of water samples, and geochemical modeling to explore controls on this radioactivity. NORM are mainly caused by {sup 226}Ra and {sup 228}Ra, the alpha-decay daughter products of {sup 238}U and {sup 232}Th, respectively, in water and barite scale. Geologically short half-lives of the Ra isotopes, slow basinal flow velocities, short transport distances during reservoir production, and the distribution of U and Th in sedimentarymore » reservoirs result in local lithologic variations being a major control on NORM levels. Ra activity correlates with salinity and chlorinity in Gulf Coast Frio formation water but not elsewhere in the state. Formation water composition does, however, determine the type and amount of scale that can form. Scale mineralogy, Ra/Ba and Ba/SO{sub 4} solute ratios, and reservoir temperature in turn determine the Ra activity of scale. Although our data base is small relative to the Fiber of geologic, geochemical, and geographic variables, we find several associations of Ra isotope activity with reservoir and formation water characteristics. These associations can be used to anticipate NORM levels at the play, field, and reservoir scale.« less
  • S>It is the purpose of the present study to determine the feasibility of locating a pilot project in the Texas Gulf Coast area for the purpose of tapping the overpressured aquifers and transforming the thermal and mechanical energy into electrical power. Three areas in south Texas chosen were the Sebastian area in northwest Cameron County, the Port Mansfield area in eastern Willacy County, and the Corpus Christi area. (GRA)
  • Hot springs and wells in West Texas and adjacent Mexico are manifestations of active convective geothermal systems, concentrated in a zone along the Rio Grande between the Quitman Mountains and Big Bend National Park. Maximum temperatures are 47/sup 0/ and 72/sup 0/C for hot springs and wells in Texas and 90/sup 0/C for hot springs in Mexico within 5 km of the border. Existing information is summarized and the results of a 1-year intensive study of the area are presented. The study includes several overlapping phases: (1) compilation of existing geologic information, both regional studies of geology, structure and geophysics,more » and more detailed local studies of individual hot spring areas; (2) detailed geologic mapping of hot spring areas to understand the origin and geologic controls of hot springs; (3) field measurement and sampling of hot spring or well waters for geochemical analysis; and (4) synthesis and interpretation of the data.« less
  • Region 6 of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues final NPDES General Permits regulating discharges of produced water and produced sand derived from oil and gas point source facilities. The permits prohibit the discharge of produced water and produced sand derived from Coastal Subcategory to any water subject to EPA jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Discharges to coastal waters of Louisiana and Texas of produced water and produced sand derived from most Stripper Subcategory and all Offshore Subcategory (40 CFR part 435, subpart A) facilities covered by these permits are prohibited.
  • Sandstone reservoirs in the Jackson barrier/strandplain play are characterized by low recovery efficiencies and thus contain a large hydrocarbon resource target potentially amenable to advanced recovery techniques. Prado field, Jim Hogg County, South Texas, has produced over 23 million bbl of oil and over 32 million mcf gas from combination structural-stratigraphic traps in the Eocene lower Jackson Group. Hydrocarbon entrapment at Prado field is a result of anticlinal nosing by differential compaction and updip pinch-out of barrier bar sandstone. Relative base-level lowering resulted in forced regression that established lower Jackson shoreline sandstones in a relatively distal location in central Jimmore » Hogg County. Reservoir sand bodies at Prado field comprise complex assemblages of barrier-bar, tidal-inlet fill, back-barrier bar, and shoreface environments. Subsequent progradation built the barrier-bar system seaward 1 to 2 mi. Within the barrier-bar system, favorable targets for hydrocarbon reexploration are concentrated in tidal-inlet facies because they possess the greatest degree of depositional heterogeneity. The purpose of this report is (1) to describe and analyze the sand-body architecture, depositional facies variations, and structure of Prado field, (2) to determine controls on distribution of hydrocarbons pertinent to reexploration for bypassed hydrocarbons, (3) to describe reservoir models at Prado field, and (4) to develop new data affecting the suitability of Jackson oil fields as possible candidates for thermally enhanced recovery of medium to heavy oil.« less