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Hydrocarbon Potential of Northern Honduras

Marc De Buyl, Paul Swetland, John Sherwood

The Tela and Mosquitia basins, located along the northern coast of Honduras, cover approximately 20,000 and 65,000 km2, respectively. These basins, resulting from a complex tectonic history strongly influenced by Tertiary extensional forces, are filled with clastic and carbonate sediments of Cretaceous and Tertiary age. The sedimentary record is marked by numerous regional unconformities representing major time gaps that are amplified over structural highs. To date, 16 deep (> 1,500 m) wells have been drilled, giving a density of about one well per 5,000 km2. Although these wells failed to find commercial hydrocarbons, a reinterpretation of the exploration data in light of new geologic surveys suggests a more promising outlook.

Cretaceous rocks, considered economic basement in the Tela basin based on their overmature character, are probably influenced by local igneous intrusions interpreted from a recent high-sensitivity aeromagnetic survey. The Tertiary section in the Tela basin, characterized by mostly immature, gas-prone source rocks on structure, thickens (> 3,500 m) considerably off structure. More favorable oil potential may exist in the deeper, undrilled, western offshore Tela basin or onshore, where oil shows have been reported. The Mosquitia basin is interpreted to contain up to 10,000 m of marine carbonate and clastic sediments. Favorable oil generating potential (> 1 billion bbl/mi3) is present in carbonates of middle Eocene age. Significant oil shows were found in middle Eocene r servoirs that may have been damaged prior to testing. The Cretaceous, which is not everywhere overmature, has not been fully tested. Seismic data show that both the Tela and Mosquitia basins contain numerous undrilled structures as well as excellent potential for unconformity-related traps.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91043©1986 AAPG Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-18, 1986.