--> --> Abstract: Developing a Basin Scale Chronostratigraphic Framework for a New, High-Impact Exploration Play: Wilcox (Upper Paleocene) Turbidites in the Deep-Water Gulf of Mexico, by Larry Zarra; #90082 (2008)

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Developing a Basin Scale Chronostratigraphic Framework for a New, High-Impact Exploration Play: Wilcox (Upper Paleocene) Turbidites in the Deep-Water Gulf of Mexico

Larry Zarra
Chevron North America Exploration & Production Company, Houston, TX

The deep-water Wilcox trend is an exciting new turbidite play, located > 250 miles downdip from onshore production. In the last 80 years, the onshore Wilcox trend has produced 5 BBOE from shallow water reservoirs in the northwest Gulf of Mexico. In the last 8 years, 24 wildcats in the deep-water Wilcox trend have had a 70 % discovery rate, with 2.5 BBO reserves likely in discoveries ranging from 100-600 MMBO.

Initial discoveries (2001-2002) documented a 6,000’ thick turbidite section in Alaminos Canyon (AC) and a 2,500’ thick turbidite section in northeast Walker Ridge (WR), located 250 miles farther downdip into the basin. Early stratigraphic models were poorly constrained, and tended to be more observational than predictive.

A more detailed stratigraphic model for the deep-water Wilcox was developed as new well and seismic data became available during the last 6 years. Successive wells located between widely separated early discoveries in AC and WR indicated the presence of regionally correlative log-based sequences. Re-interpretation of trend 2D data allowed recognition of subtle seismic sequences consistent with the log-based sequences, and increased representation of typically sparse paleontologic markers provided age constraints for the sequences.

The deep-water Wilcox is composed of 4 seismic sequences that represent extensive turbidite systems on the lower slope and basin floor. Lithofacies and depositional processes are calibrated to > 3,000’ of conventional core from > 12 wells. Multiple wells at several appraisal focus areas enable reliable interpretations and predictions at increasingly finer scales. The current stratigraphic model is stable, robust, and has significant predictive value for the trend. Increased resolution and reliability of the stratigraphic framework will reduce exploration risk as the deep-water Wilcox play matures.

AAPG International Conference and Exhibition, Cape Town, South Africa 2008 © AAPG Search and Discovery