Effects of Saline-Wastewater Injection on Water Quality in the Altamont-Bluebell Oil and Gas Field, Duchesne County, Utah, 1990-2005
Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5192
The Altamont-Bluebell oil and gas field in the Uinta Basin in northeastern Utah has been an important oil and natural gas production area since the 1950s. Saline water is produced along with oil during the oil-well drilling and pumping process. The saline wastewater is disposed of by injection into wells completed in the Duchesne River Formation, Uinta Formation, and other underlying formations. There are concerns that the injected saline wastewater could migrate into the upper part of the Duchesne River and Uinta Formations and surficial deposits that are used for drinking-water supply and degrade the quality of the drinking water. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining, began a program in 1990 to monitor water quality in five wells in the Altamont-Bluebell oil and gas field. By 1996, water-quality samples had been collected from 20 wells. Ten of the 20 wells were sampled yearly during 1996-2005 and analyzed for bromide, chloride, and stable isotopes. Comparison of major chemical constituents, bromide-to-chloride ratios, trend analysis, and isotope ratios were used to assess if saline wastewater is migrating into parts of the formation that are developed for drinking-water supplies. Results of four different analyses all indicate that saline wastewater injected into the lower part of the Duchesne River and Uinta Formations and underlying formations is not migrating upward into the upper parts of the formations that are used for drinking-water supplies.