Controls on Barite (BaSO4) Precipitation in Unconventional Reservoirs

Barbara F. Esteves, Jennifer L. Druhan, Adam D. Jew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Barite (BaSO4) precipitation is one of the most ubiquitous examples of secondary sulfate mineral scaling in shale oil and gas reservoirs. Often, a suite of chemical additives is used during fracturing operations to inhibit the accumulation of mineral scales, though their efficacy is widely varied and poorly understood. This study combines experimental data and multi-component numerical reactive transport modeling to offer a more comprehensive understanding of the geochemical behavior of barite accumulation in shale matrices under conditions typical of fracturing operations. A variety of additives and conditions are individually tested in batch reactor experiments to identify the factors controlling barite precipitation. Our experimental results demonstrate a pH dependence in the rate of barite precipitation, which we use to develop a predictive model including a pH-dependent term that satisfactorily reproduces our observations. This model is then extended to consider the behavior of three major shale samples of highly variable mineralogy (Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and Barnett). This data-validated model offers a reliable tool to predict and ultimately mitigate against secondary mineral accumulation in unconventional shale reservoirs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12869–12878
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number34
Early online dateAug 16 2023
StatePublished - Aug 29 2023


  • barite precipitation
  • geochemical modeling
  • multi-component reactive transport
  • sulfate mineral scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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