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Abstract

Since the widespread occurrence of low-molecular-weight organic ligands in subsurface waters of sedimentary basins began to be recognized about 20 years ago (Willey et al., 1975; Carothers and Kharaka, 1978), their origin, distribution, and significance has become an intensively studied field in geochemistry (Gautier et al., 1985, Gautier, 1986; Pittman and Lewan, 1994). Acetate and propionate (for the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) names and chemical structure, see Appendix II of this volume) are generally the most abundant organic ligands reported in oil-field waters, although a variety of additional monocarboxylic, dicarboxylic, and other reactive organic species are present (Germanov and Mel'kanovitskaya, 1975; Willey et al., 1975; Carothers and Kharaka, 1978; Workman and Hanor, 1985; Hanor and Workman, 1986; Kharaka et al., 1986; Fisher, 1987; Means and Hubbard, 1987; Fisher and Boles, 1990; Lundegard and Kharaka, 1990, 1994; Lundegard and Trevena, 1990; MacGowan and Surdam, 1990a; Giordano and Kharaka, 1994). The highest concentrations (close to 10,000 mg/L) are present in formation waters obtained from relatively young (Tertiary-age) reservoir rocks at temperatures of approximately 80° to 140°C (Carothers and Kharaka, 1978; Lundegard and Kharaka, 1994).

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