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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Environmental Geosciences (DEG)



DOI: 10.1046/j.1526-0984.2001.84001.x

The Oil Waste History of Smackover Field, Arkansas


Department of Geology & Geography, Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA 71134


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.

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