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Geopressure Compartmentalization in Salt Basins: Their Assessment for Hydrocarbon Entrapments in the Gulf of Mexico

Selim S. Shaker
Geopressure Analysis Services (G.A.S.), 1510 Village Green Court, Houston, Texas 77077

The complex interaction between salt and surrounding sediments makes risk assessment of a prospect or play concept a challenge. Geopressure compartmentalization in the Gulf of Mexico Tertiary-Quaternary salt basins is created mainly by the principle stresses resulting from interaction between the sediment load and tectonic movement of salt.

The unique petrophysical properties of salt contribute to changes in the structural setting and affect the sealing capacity and hydrocarbon retention capability of traps. The low density of salt may retard the sealing capacity in subsalt sediments, while enhancing the seal capacity in supra-salt sediments. Because salt is relatively impermeable its contact with surrounding sediments forms a barrier to hydrocarbon movement. The integrity of the sealing interface is usually impacted by the salt tectonic history.

The ductile nature of salt creates different forms of salt tectonics, such as diapirs, ridges, salt-withdrawal basins, overhangs, canopies, etc., that have a direct impact on stress orientation.

Establishing the predicted pore pressure in the impermeable beds (shale) compared to the measured pressure in the reservoir facies (sands), plays an important role in assessing the entrapment and sealing capacity of traps. In this study, wells were analyzed from several different salt tectonic settings the Garden Banks, Mississippi Canyon, and Green Canyon protraction areas. While a great deal is known about salt body delineation from geological and geophysical data, this paper addresses salt-related hydrocarbon traps from a geopressure standpoint.

In the scope of this paper, a few examples will be discussed showing the effect of salt tectonics and sedimentation in relation to geopressure compartmentalization and hydrocarbon entrapment in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90080©2005 GCAGS 55th Annual Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana