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Petroleum Play Distribution and Characteristics in the Southern Gulf of Mexico Petroliferous Basins: From Coastal Onshore to Shallow Water and Deep Water

Vlad Andrus and Edgar H. Guevara

Understanding of the regional and local geological controls on the distribution of oil and gas accumulations in the southern Gulf of Mexico Basin is a key factor for efficient and sustainable exploration programs in this region. Sixty-six petroleum plays were examined in six geological provinces, from the most developed Tampico-Misantla and Sureste basins to the frontier, deepwater (>500 m water depth) Mexican Ridges, Catemaco Fold Belt, and Campeche Deep Sea Basin. The plays occur both in extensional and compressional structural settings, which largely show halokinesis and wrenching imprints. Comparative analysis demonstrates that structural plays are not only the most common type and contain the largest portion (80%) of proven and probable (2P) recoverable reserves in the region, but also that they are characterized by the highest reserves-per-play index of all plays. Plays were reviewed in terms of their spatial and temporal distribution as well. Cenozoic plays occur in all studied basins and are the most abundant along with Cretaceous plays, though their reserves rank below those of Cretaceous and especially Jurassic plays. Underexplored deepwater basins contain hydrocarbon reserves almost exclusively in the post-Cretaceous plays (96%), whilst in the mature Sureste and Tampico-Misantla basins, substantial reserves are concentrated in the Jurassic-Cretaceous section. Changes in geologic features of the plays, from onshore to shallow-water and deepwater settings, are also addressed.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90158©2012 GCAGS and GC-SEPM 6nd Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, 21-24 October 2012