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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


(Begin page 457)

AAPG Bulletin, V. 86, No. 3 (March 2002), P. 457-484.

Copyright ©2002. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Evolution and origin of deep reservoir water at the Activo Luna oil field, Gulf of Mexico, Mexico

P. Birkle,1 J. J. Rosillo Aragon,2 E. Portugal,3 J. L. Fong Aguilar4

1Instituto de Investigaciones Electricas, Unidad Geotermia, A.P.1-475, Cuernavaca, Morelos, 62001 Mexico; email: [email protected]
2PEMEX-Exploracion y Produccion, Activo de Produccion Luna, Diseño y Evaluacion de Explotacion, Comalcalco, Tabasco, 86388 Mexico; email: [email protected]
3Instituto de Investigaciones Electricas, Unidad Geotermia, A.P.1-475, Cuernavaca, Morelos, 62001 Mexico; email: [email protected]
4PEMEX-Exploracion y Produccion, Activo de Produccion Luna, Diseño y Evaluacion de Explotacion, Comalcalco, Tabasco, 86388 Mexico; email: [email protected]


Peter Birkle received his master's degree in geology/petrology from the Eberhard-Karls University in Tubingen (Germany) in 1992, followed by a Ph.D. in hydrogeology/hydrochemistry from the Technical University of Freiberg, Saxony (Germany) in 1998. In 1993, he joined the research team of the Geothermal Department at the Institute for Electrical Research (Instituto de Investigaciones Electricas) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, as a specialist in deep groundwater systems. Birkle's current research includes hydrogeological modeling of geothermal and petroleum reservoirs, assessment studies of reservoir extraction, environmental impacts by geothermal exploitation, and identifying the origin and pathways of deep groundwater with isotopic and hydrochemical methods.

Jorge Rosillo Aragon received his bachelor's degree in engineering geology from the Autonomous University of Mexico (U.N.A.M.) in 1975. Until 1991, he worked at the Mexican Institute of Petroleum (IMP) and as a teaching professor at the U.N.A.M. and the Polytechnical Institute. From 1992 to 1993, he was the executive manager of the Department for Reservoir Characterization. Recently, Rosillo Aragon has been senior geologist and coordinator of the Reservoir Characterization Group at the Activo Luna oil field (PEMEX-PEP), with major research interests in structural effects on petroleum exploitation.

Enrique Portugal joined the Institute for Electrical Research in Cuernavaca, Mexico, as a researcher in 1984. Presently, he is in charge of the isotope laboratory at the Geothermal Department. He received his master's degree in chemical engineering at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos (UAEM), Mexico, in 1992. His major interests are stable isotope studies of geothermal fluids.

Jose Luis Fong Aguilar received his bachelor's and master's degrees in petroleum engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Faculty of Engineering, in 1983 and 1991, respectively. In 1983, he began to work for the National Oil Company PEMEX (Petroleos Mexicanos), mainly in the realization and evaluation of reservoir simulations, as well as exploitation studies of oil fields in the southern production zone of Mexico. Simultaneously, he collaborated as teaching professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the UNAM. He is the former coordinator of the Design and Exploitation Department and the actual administrator of the Activo Luna oilfield (PEMEX-PEP).


We thank the staff from Activo Luna for providing information and technical support. We appreciate the helpful comments from the reviewers L. M. Walter and B. Hitchon.


Petroleum wells of the Activo de Produccion Luna oil field at the Mexican Gulf Coast are partially invaded by formation water at a production depth between 5000 and 6000 m. Measured 14C activities between less than 0.9 and 13.7% modern carbon reflect a homogenous, late Pleistocene-early Holocene age (40-10 ka) for the regional infiltration of meteoric and marine water into the reservoir. Before infiltration, both components were partially affected by atmospheric evaporation, which explains the hypersaline composition of some formation waters. Very positive d18O values (up to +12.5‰) of the formation waters are caused by strong secondary water-rock interaction processes and reflect close to equilibrium conditions between the carbonate host rock and the fluids. The formation of biogenic and/or thermocatalytic methane in some parts of the petroleum reservoir is indicated by d13C values up to +20.4‰. Southwest-northeast-directed hydraulic migration of the deep aquifer between camps Sen and Escuintle-Pijije-Caparroso is indicated by interference tests and pressure drawdown characteristics, whereas northwest-southeast-trending thrust faults restrict communication toward the Luna and Tizon camps in the most northeastern part of the oil field. On a local scale, vertical zonation trends of the fluids with decreasing salinity toward upper parts of the common aquifer are related to separation processes by gravity and/or by the rising of condensed vapor. The migration of the fluids is mainly related to southwest-northeast-trending fractures and microfractures, whereas northwest-southeast- and northeast-southwest-trending reverse and normal faults, respectively, behave irregularly as barrier or as flow conduits. Recently, the extraction of petroleum caused an increased mobilization of the hydrodynamic aquifer system.

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