Characterization of Bedded Salt for Storage Caverns—A Case Study from the Midland Basin, Texas

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2000

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The geometry of Permian bedded salt in the Midland Basin is a product of interaction between depositional facies and postdepositional modification by salt dissolution. Mapping high-frequency code patterns in cross-section and map view using wireline logs documents the salt geometry. Geologically based interpretation of depositional and dissolution processes provides a powerful tool for mapping the geometry of salt to assess the suitability of sites for the development of solution-mined storage caverns. In addition, this process-based description of salt geometry complements existing data about the evolution of one of the best-known sedimentary basins in the world and can serve as a genetic model to assist in interpreting other salt basins.

Solution-mined caverns in salt in the Midland Basin Salado Formation are low-cost, large-volume storage facilities used for chemical feedstock. Caverns are also created when salt is dissolved to produce NaCl brine for drilling mud and other applications. Recently, solution-mined caverns have been used for the disposal of oil-field wastes. This log-based regional analysis of salt character provides basic descriptive information on the geometry of salt needed to site and regulate the development, use, and decommissioning of these facilities in the context of an exploration of facies relationships and implications for depositional history in this part of the Permian Basin.

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