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Vector East: Investigation of the Chukchi-Bering Sea Shelf as One of the Key Regions for Russian Hydrocarbon Resources Growth in the Next Decade

Viktor A. Savelyev1, Alexander N. Obukhov1, Vladimir Verzhbitsky2, and Svetlana V. Malysheva2
1JSC «Gazpromneft», Moscow, Russian Federation.
2LLC «Gazpromneft NTC», Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation.

The East Arctic shelf occupying the vast areas of Russian Arctic is much less explored in comparison with the West Arctic basins. Due to the existence of the sedimentary basins of the similar structural position and origin with those of Arctic Alaska, the East Arctic shelf attracts the broad interest of the Worlds’ geoscience community and petroleum companies focused on the hydrocarbon resource growth.

Chukchi and Bering Sea shelves have adjacent geographic position and represent a unique region, which includes a number of sedimentary basins with various tectonics, sedimentation and subsidence history, exploration status and hydrocarbon potential.

JSC «Gazpromneft» working on the growing of its resource base, started exploration in the region about 10 years ago. From 2001 to 2006 the company (former «Sibneft») performed a total of 6535 km of 2D seismic in 6 license blocks in Bering Sea and Chukchi Peninsula. Several exploration wells were drilled onshore and offshore in the Bering Sea region. In 2002 the Central Arch offshore structure was drilled. The well was a dry hole, like many other wells drilled in American waters of Navarin Basin.
Lack of discoveries made by the first offshore well in Russian Bering Sea could be in particular related to the predominance of the continental facies in the Central Arch area. On the other hand, the Bering Sea shelf basins are considered, in general, as a part of the West Pacific oil and gas-bearing belt of basins, filled by terrigenous shallow marine and deltaic facies of CZ age.

The Chukchi shelf basins could be much more promising in terms of hydrocarbon potential. We interpret the shelf structure and stratigraphy using main geological events known for the Chukotka, Wrangel and Arctic Alaska. Our research is based on the broad compilation of available onshore geological data and published offshore seismic data. Similarities in geological history and depositional settings of Russian and US sectors during Late Paleozoic-Cenozoic, wide-spread thrust fault and anticline structures in Pz-Cz sedimentary units, unconformities of various age, peculiarities of seismic records and anomalous concentrations of hydrocarbon gases in the bottom sediments may point to significant prospectivity of Russian Chukchi Sea shelf.

Currently, one of the goals is to identify the main possible hydrocarbon accumulation zones in the Russian sector of Chukchi Sea by use of hydrocarbon system analysis approach and basin modeling tools.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90130©2011 3P Arctic, The Polar Petroleum Potential Conference & Exhibition, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 30 August-2 September, 2011.