- ©2001. AAPG/DEG
Smackover Field, discovered in 1922, is an excellent example of the methodology of heavy oil handling and loss in early 20th century flush production fields. Emulsion problems and waste were severe; millions of barrels of heavy oil were stored in earthen pits for up to a decade, and millions of barrels of oil were lost to land and water. The largest quantity of crude oil waste was from the inadequate handling and treatment of waterin-oil emulsions. Crude oil loss was also associated with earthen storage both on leases and in large tank farms. Lease storage pits served numerous purposes and had the most complex fluid history. Many were used for decades as saltwater disposal pits following the flush oil period. Large earthen tank farms on the field edge stored millions of barrels of heavy oil in the 1920s and 1930s but were not used for saltwater storage. Today the farms exist within young forests where the ground is hardened by asphaltic deposits associated with both earthen construction and seepage loss. Drainage areas also provide a record of the extensive waste oil history. Asphaltic layers are most prominent in creek areas that did not burn, but degraded oil exists to some extent in almost all field drainage areas.
Mary Barrett is an Associate Professor of Geology at Centenary College of Louisiana. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University, all in geology. She worked for Mobil Exploration and Producing in Dallas, New Orleans, and Denver before joining the Centenary faculty. At Mobil, she became most interested in improved recovery from aging fields. At Centenary, she expanded her interests in aging fields to consider their history and surface environmental impacts. Her Smackover work received the DEG excellence of presentation award for the best technical paper at the New Orleans 2000 meeting.