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Open-File Report 2012–1144

Geologic Assessment of Undiscovered Conventional Oil and Gas Resources—Middle Eocene Claiborne Group, United States Part of the Gulf of Mexico Basin

By Paul C. Hackley

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (9.5 MB)Abstract

The Middle Eocene Claiborne Group was assessed using established U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessment methodology for undiscovered conventional hydrocarbon resources as part of the 2007 USGS assessment of Paleogene-Neogene strata of the United States part of the Gulf of Mexico Basin including onshore and State waters. The assessed area is within the Upper Jurassic-Cretaceous-Tertiary Composite total petroleum system, which was defined as part of the assessment. Source rocks for Claiborne oil accumulations are interpreted to be organic-rich downdip shaley facies of the Wilcox Group and the Sparta Sand of the Claiborne Group; gas accumulations may have originated from multiple sources including the Jurassic Smackover and Haynesville Formations and Bossier Shale, the Cretaceous Eagle Ford and Pearsall(?) Formations, and the Paleogene Wilcox Group and Sparta Sand. Hydrocarbon generation in the basin started prior to deposition of Claiborne sediments and is ongoing at present. Emplacement of hydrocarbons into Claiborne reservoirs has occurred primarily via vertical migration along fault systems; long-range lateral migration also may have occurred in some locations. Primary reservoir sands in the Claiborne Group include, from oldest to youngest, the Queen City Sand, Cook Mountain Formation, Sparta Sand, Yegua Formation, and the laterally equivalent Cockfield Formation. Hydrocarbon traps dominantly are rollover anticlines associated with growth faults; salt structures and stratigraphic traps also are important. Sealing lithologies probably are shaley facies within the Claiborne and in the overlying Jackson Group.

A geologic model, supported by spatial analysis of petroleum geology data including discovered reservoir depths, thicknesses, temperatures, porosities, permeabilities, and pressures, was used to divide the Claiborne Group into seven assessment units (AU) with distinctive structural and depositional settings. The AUs include (1) Lower Claiborne Stable Shelf Gas and Oil (50470120), (2) Lower Claiborne Expanded Fault Zone Gas (50470121), (3) Lower Claiborne Slope and Basin Floor Gas (50470122), (4) Lower Claiborne Cane River (50470123), (5) Upper Claiborne Stable Shelf Gas and Oil (50470124), (6) Upper Claiborne Expanded Fault Zone Gas (50470125), and (7) Upper Claiborne Slope and Basin Floor Gas (50470126). Total estimated mean undiscovered conventional hydrocarbon resources in the seven assessment units combined are 52 million barrels of oil, 19.145 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 1.205 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

A recurring theme that emerged from the evaluation of the seven Claiborne AUs is that the great bulk of undiscovered hydrocarbon resources comprise non-associated gas and condensate contained in deep (mostly >12,000 feet), overpressured, structurally complex outer shelf or slope and basin floor reservoirs. The continuing development of these downdip objectives is expected to be the primary focus of exploration activity for the onshore Middle Eocene Gulf Coast in the coming decades.

First posted October 24, 2012

For additional information contact:
Paul C. Hackley
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 956
Reston, VA 20192

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Suggested citation:

Hackley, P.C., 2012, Geologic assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources—Middle Eocene Claiborne Group, United States part of the Gulf of Mexico Basin: U.S. Geological Survey Open–File Report 2012–1144, 87 p., available only at





Regional Geologic and Structural Setting

Elements of the Petroleum System

Overview of Claiborne Exploration and Production History

Resource Assessment

References Cited

Appendixes A–G

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