California Oil, Gas, and Groundwater Program
Publication: Conference and Public Meeting Abstracts or Presentations
The California State Water Resources Control Board is collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey to implement a Regional Monitoring Program (RMP) to assess potential interactions between oil/gas stimulation treatment and groundwater resources. The effects of stimulation on groundwater resources will be difficult to distinguish from the effects of other past or present components of oil and gas development. As a result, the RMP is designed to provide an overall assessment of the effects of oil and gas development on groundwater quality. During 2016-17, the study is focused on selected priority oilfields in the eastern and western portions of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County to: (1) produce three-dimensional (3D) salinity maps, (2) characterize the chemical composition of groundwater and produced water, and (3) identify the extent to which fluids from oil and gas development may be moving into protected (total dissolved solids less than 10,000 milligrams per liter) groundwater at regional scales. Analysis of available salinity data near oil/gas fields indicates there are regional patterns to salinity depth profiles; however, data gaps between the depths of water and oil/gas wells are common. These results provide a foundation for more detailed oilfield-scale salinity mapping, which includes geophysical methods (borehole, surface, and airborne) to fill data gaps. The RMP sampling-well networks are designed to evaluate groundwater quality along transects from oil/gas fields into adjacent aquifers and consist of existing wells supplemented by monitoring-well installation in priority locations identified by using 3D visualization of hydrogeologic data. The analytes include constituents with different transport characteristics such as dissolved gases, inorganic components (brines), and petroleum compounds. Analytes were selected because of their potential usefulness for understanding processes and pathways by which fluids from oilfield sources reach groundwater.