Neuquen Basin

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This page is currently being authored by a student at the University of Oklahoma. This page will be complete Dec 13, 2020.

Introduction

The Neuquén Basin is a spectacular series of rock formations that is found within Argentina. In 2016, Argentina was the largest dry gas producer and 4th largest petroleum producer in South America.[1] At first, Argentina wanted help from the United States and British petroleum companies to help break through the shale formations in this Basin. But now, Argentina thinks they are ready to move on their own, so they are trying to produce and explore most of the oil and gas under the Neuquén Basin and around the country without foreign help.[2]

History

The Neuquén Basin was first discovered in 1918. This basin has been a large producer of oil and gas since then. In the past couple years, this basin had a great deal of oil and gas found in one of the formations, so Argentina is looking to use horizontal drilling techniques, as well as fracking methods.[3] Using horizontal drilling in a country outside the United States is not used frequently, so this is a big deal that Argentina is employing this method. This specific producing area is called the Vaca Muerta formation. [4] This translates to “dead cow”. This basin was formed during the Jurassic period. It was once covered completely by water which helped form this sandstone formation. Eventually, it was rivers that formed the surface of this basin into what it looks like today.[5]

Geology

Source Rock

The Neuquén Basin has three oil and gas petroleum source rocks that occur in the basin and fold belt. These three source rocks are the Los Molles Formation which was formed in Jurassic, The Jurassic – Early Cretaceous period formed the Vaca Muerta Formation, and the Early Cretaceous period formed the Agrio Formation.

Most of the formation of source rock comes from marine depositional environments within the lower Jurassic up until the Oxfordian and then one final marine depositional period during the Early Cretaceous Hauterivian to the Aptian and Albian.[6]

Formation Rock of Neuquén Basin

Seals and Traps

The Neuquén Basin has gone through many uplifts, extensions, and other developmental evolution from tectonics. A few that have helped create seals and traps are Agrio Fold belt, NE Platform, and Huincul Arch. The NE Platform is an area of progressive on-lap and thinning of the Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous parasequences towards the basin of margin. Sediments deposited in this area consist of beach and nearshore-shelf environments offer numerous possibilities for the development of stratigraphic traps.[7]

Huincul Arch anticlines and synthetic fault traps are productive here.[8] This zone extends eastward to parallel and form the southern boundary of the basin. Agrio Fold Belt is characterized by tight, elongated North-South trending anticlines, that overlie a zone of imbricated, west dipping, low-angle thrusts.

Structural Features

The Neuquén Basin had two major evolutionary stages with one being in Late Triassic-Early Cretaceous follow by a Late-Cretaceous foreland setting. The Triassic normal fault trends developed during extension are oriented NE-SW and E-NE-SW in the southern part of the basin.[9]

This area is tectonically dominated by the Huincul Arch, with a right lateral shear zone characterized by the transpressive uplift that was active from the Early Jurassic to Late Cretaceous.[10]The Huincul Arch divides the Neuquén Basin into two main depocenters, know as the northern and southern sub-basins.

Reservoirs and Migration

The USGS assessed the potential for undiscovered, technically recoverable continuous unconventional oil and gas resources within the Neuquen basin to be around 14.4 billion barrels of oil and 38 trillion cubic feet of gas in this province.[11]

Production

The Neuquén Basin has primarily oil wells, but has plenty of gas wells too. Judging from the picture linked, we can see that most of the wells drilled in the basin are in the oil window.[12] The basin produced around 45,000 barrels of oil per day in 2011. The total reserves estimated to be remaining in this basin is 16.2 billion barrels of oil and 308 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The country adopted horizontal drilling in this specific region in 2011. In late 2016, the daily production had gotten much larger than 2011 with over 58,000 barrels per day. This daily production came from 522 wells across the basin. [13]

The Neuquén Basin became so productive that outside investors came into the region. ExxonMobil and Chevron were the two largest U.S. companies that came in and invested in the basin. Chevron ended up investing the most money at around $4 billion between the years 2011 and 2016. This investment helped drill over 170 wells which still run today.  [14]

References

  1. E. (2013, June). Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources. Retrieved November, 2020, from https://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/worldshalegas/pdf/overview.pdf
  2. Grimaldi, G. (2009). Fault framework and kinematic evolution of inversion structures: Natural examples from the Neuquén Basin, Argentina. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from http://archives.datapages.com.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/data/bulletns/2011/01jan/BLTN09165/IMAGES/BLTN09165.PDF
  3. Hogg*, S. L. (1993). Geology And Hydrocarbon Potential Of The Neuquen Basin. Journal of Petroleum Geology, 16. doi:10.1306/bf9ab72c-0eb6-11d7-8643000102c1865d
  4. Howell, J. (2000). Neuquen Basin. Retrieved 2020, from https://sp.lyellcollection.org/content/specpubgsl/252/1/1.full.pdf
  5. Neuquén Basin. (2020, September 18). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuqu%C3%A9n_Basin
  6. Pryzborski, P. (2018). The Geologic Wonder of the Neuquén Basin. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/92908/the-geologic-wonder-of-the-neuquen-basin
  7. Research. (2018, March 16). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.jsg.utexas.edu/neuquen-basin/research/
  8. Schnek, C. (2016). Assessment of Continuous Oil and Gas Resources in the Neuquén Basin Province, Argentina, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2017/3025/fs20173025.pdf
  9. E. (2013, June). Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources. Retrieved November, 2020, from https://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/worldshalegas/pdf/overview.pdf
  10. U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.eia.gov/international/overview/country/ARG
  11. Vaca Muerta. (2020, November 08). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaca_Muerta
  12. File:Vaca Muerta Wells.jpg

External Links

  1. E. (2013, June). Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources. Retrieved November, 2020, from https://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/worldshalegas/pdf/overview.pdf
  2. E. (2013, June). Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources. Retrieved November, 2020, from https://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/worldshalegas/pdf/overview.pdf
  3. Pryzborski, P. (2018). The Geologic Wonder of the Neuquén Basin. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/92908/the-geologic-wonder-of-the-neuquen-basin
  4. Howell, J. (2000). Neuquen Basin. Retrieved 2020, from https://sp.lyellcollection.org/content/specpubgsl/252/1/1.full.pdf
  5. Neuquén Basin. (2020, September 18). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuqu%C3%A9n_Basin
  6. Pryzborski, P. (2018). The Geologic Wonder of the Neuquén Basin. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/92908/the-geologic-wonder-of-the-neuquen-basin
  7. Schnek, C. (2016). Assessment of Continuous Oil and Gas Resources in the Neuquén Basin Province, Argentina, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2017/3025/fs20173025.pdf
  8. Schnek, C. (2016). Assessment of Continuous Oil and Gas Resources in the Neuquén Basin Province, Argentina, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2017/3025/fs20173025.pdf
  9. U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.eia.gov/international/overview/country/ARG
  10. U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.eia.gov/international/overview/country/ARG
  11. Schnek, C. (2016). Assessment of Continuous Oil and Gas Resources in the Neuquén Basin Province, Argentina, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2017/3025/fs20173025.pdf
  12. File:Vaca Muerta Wells.jpg
  13. Vaca Muerta. (2020, November 08). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaca_Muerta
  14. Vaca Muerta. (2020, November 08). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaca_Muerta