Datapages, Inc.Print this page

ABSTRACT: Concepts for Future Exploration for Submarine Fan and Turbidite System Reservoirs

Martin H. Link, Paul Weimer

With the emphasis of future petroleum exploration in deeper water and on frontier plays, submarine fan and turbidite systems will be major reservoir targets. Successful exploration and development of these reservoirs will be largely controlled by world oil prices, politics, markets, and drilling and producing technologies. Present economics require large reserves when targeting deep water or when drilling remote regions of countries that require large capital expenditures for pipelines and

development. Future techniques for successful exploration and production of turbidite reservoirs will include (1) successful application of sequence stratigraphy in identifying reservoirs, (2) new play concepts for exploring synclinal low areas, and (3) the expanded use of three-dimensional seismic surveys.

Lacustrine turbidites in rift, wrench, and successor basins are good potential targets because of their association with good source rocks/seals. Reservoirs occur at the base of deltaic clinoforms interbedded with source rocks or along actively subsiding fault scarps. Many of these basins are extremely large, but the distribution of source rocks may be limited, making the potential reserves in these systems highly variable.

Submarine fans associated with Cenozoic deltas remain an active deep water play. Turbidite reservoirs, deposited within bathymetric lows and localized basins on the slope created by salt and shale diapirism, occur in areas such as the northern Gulf of Mexico, continental margin of Nigeria, and Mackenzie Delta/Canadian Beaufort Sea. Other prospective Cenozoic delta-related margins include those associated with the Amazon, Indus, Ganges-Bramapuhtra, and Mahakam Deltas.

The tremendous exploration successes in the deep-water Campos basin illustrate the great potential in passive margins. Targets are subtle and influenced by depositional topography controlled by growth faults, and shale and salt diapirs. Basins with high potential include those in the southern Atlantic Ocean (including offshore South Africa), and offshore Australia. Deep-water fold belts associated with gravitational tectonics on passive margins contain both deep-water reservoirs and stratigraphic traps where turbidites onlap growing structures. The turbidites occur in water depths beyond current economic interest, and have been described in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Nigeria margin, and offshore Brazil. Many of the foreland basins of Europe, western China, and northern Alaska, as we l as the fore-arc basins of the Pacific margin have not been extensively explored, and have high potential in exploring for future turbidite reservoirs.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990