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Recent work by the U.S. Geological Survey indicated that the Lower Cretaceous Pearsall Formation contains an estimated mean undiscovered, technically recoverable unconventional gas resource of 8.8 trillion cubic ft in the Maverick Basin, South Texas. Cumulative gas production from horizontal wells in the core area of the emerging play has exceeded 5 billion cubic ft since 2008. However, very little information is available to characterize the Pearsall Formation as an unconventional gas resource beyond the Maverick Basin in the greater Gulf Coast region. Therefore, this reconnaissance study examines spatial distribution, thickness, organic richness and thermal maturity of the Pearsall Formation in the onshore U.S. Gulf states using wireline logs and drill cuttings sample analysis. Spontaneous potential and resistivity curves of approximately forty wireline logs from wells in five Gulf Coast states were correlated to ascertain the thickness of the Pearsall Formation and delineate its three members: Pine Island Shale, James Limestone or Cow Creek Limestone, and Bexar Shale, in ascending stratigraphic order. In Florida and Alabama the Pearsall Formation is up to about 300 ft thick; in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and East Texas, thickness is up to as much as 800 ft. Drill cuttings sampled from 11 wells at depths ranging from 4600 to 19,600 feet subsurface indicate increasingly oxygenated depositional environments (predominance of red shale) towards the eastern part of the basin. Cuttings vary widely in lithology but indicate interbedded clastics and limestones throughout the Pearsall Formation, consistent with previous regional studies. Organic petrographic and geochemical analyses of 17 cutting samples in the Pearsall Formation indicate a wide range in thermal maturity, from immature (0.43% Ro [vitrinite reflectance]) in paleo-high structural locations to the peak oil window (0.99% Ro) in the eastern portion of the Gulf Coast Basin. This is in contrast to dry gas thermal maturity throughout the Pearsall Formation in the South Texas Maverick Basin. Organic carbon content is low overall, even in immature samples, with a range of 0.17 to 1.08 wt.% by Leco in 22 Pearsall Formation samples. The pyrolysis output range was 0.23 to 2.33 mg hydrocarbon/g rock. The thermal maturity and Rock-Eval pyrolysis data and organic petrologic observations from this study will be used to better focus specific areas of investigation where the Pearsall Formation may be prospective as an unconventional hydrocarbon source and reservoir.
Additional Publication Details
Preliminary evaluation of the shale gas prospectivity of the Lower Cretaceous Pearsall Formation in the onshore Gulf Coast region, United States
Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions