Petroleum deposits (primarily gas) in northeastern Mexico occur in two main basins, the Tertiary Burgos basin and the Mesozoic Sabinas basin. About 90 gas fields are present in the Burgos basin, which has undergone active exploration for the past 30-40 years. Production in this basin is from Oligocene and Eocene nearshore marine and deltaic sandstone reservoirs. Most of the fields are small to medium in size on faulted anticlinal or domal structures, some of which may be related to deep-seated salt intrusion. Cumulative production from these fields is about 4 trillion cubic feet gas and 100 million barrels condensate and oil. Since 1975, about 10 gas fields, some with large production rates, have been discovered in Cretaceous carbonate and Jurassic sandstone reservoirs in the Sabinas basin and adjacent Burro-Picachos platform areas. The Sabinas basin, which is in the early stages of exploration and development, may have potential for very large gas reserves.
The Sabinas basin is oriented northwesterly with a large number of elongate northwest- or west-trending asymmetric and overturned Laramide anticlines, most of which-are faulted. Some of the structures may be related to movement of Jurassic salt or gypsum. Lower Cretaceous and in some cases Jurassic rocks are exposed in the centers of the larger anticlines, and Upper Cretaceous rocks are exposed in much of the remainder of the basin. A thick section of Upper Cretaceous clastic rocks is partly exposed in tightly folded and thrust-faulted structures of the west-east oriented, deeply subsided Parras basin, which lies south of the Sabinas basin and north of the Sierra Madre Oriental fold and thrust belt south and west of Monterrey.
The sedimentary cover of Cretaceous and Jurassic rocks in the Sabinas and Parras basins ranges from about 1,550 m (5,000 ft) to 9,000 m (30,000 ft) in thickness. Upper Jurassic rocks are composed of carbonate and dark organic shaly or sandy beds underlain by an unknown thickness of Late Jurassic and older redbed clastics and evaporites, including halite. Lower Cretaceous rocks are mainly platform carbonate and fine clastic beds with some evaporites (gypsum or anhydrite) deposited in two main rudist reef-bearing carbonate cycles. Upper Cretaceous rocks are mainly continental and marine clastic beds related to early development of the Laramide orogeny. This Upper Cretaceous sequence contains a marine shale and deltaic clastic complex as much as 6,000 m (20,000 ft) or more thick in the Parras basin, which grades northward and eastward to open marine, fine clastic beds. The Burgos basin, which is an extension of the Rio Grande embayment of the western Gulf of Mexico basin province, contains an eastward-thickening wedge of Tertiary continental and marine clastics. These beds are about 1,550 to 3,000 m (5,000-10,000 ft) thick in the outcrop belt on the west side of the basin and thicken to more than 16,000 m (50,000 ft) near the Gulf Coast.