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Application of Geological Analogs in the Exploration Workflow: Drawing on Decades of Knowledge to Identify the Critical Elements of a Play or Trap

Shengyu Wu1, Shaoqing Sun2, Robert Trice2, and Jose I. Guzman1
1 C&C Reservoirs, Inc, Houston, TX
2 C&C Reservoirs, Inc, Maidenhead, Berks, United Kingdom

Subsurface geological analogs provide a simple yet powerful and cost-effective technique for generating new exploration ideas in mature or frontier basins where data is scarce or unavailable. Even though two traps are never identical, their key elements are nonetheless transferable within and between basins, and may be assessed from knowledge attained in failed or in successful exploration ventures worldwide.

In this study, we propose a methodology to incorporate geological analogs into the exploration workflow based on known and hypothetical case studies. The approach generally begins with a search for analogs based on general geological factors such as basin type or trap style, but may be adjusted to specific queries in the exploration strategy. Then the key elements of the analog subset are reviewed and compared, and individual analogs are studied in detail. The results may be used to establish risk factors in the absence of other information. We show examples of how an exploration venture in the Middle East may focus on trap styles that have not been found in the area, but that are present in similar geological settings elsewhere. In a stratigraphic trap exploration case, we demonstrate how a failed prospect could have been prevented by the eventful application of analogs in risking. Hypothetical examples of the use of worldwide analogs include determining the critical elements of a play, finding analogs for offshore exploration of submarine fan reservoirs, characterizing stratigraphic plays in foreland basins, and establishing a strategy for onshore exploration for stratigraphic/subtle traps.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90039©2005 AAPG Calgary, Alberta, June 16-19, 2005