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Exploration Strategy, Petroleum Systems and Technologies

Jean-Jacques Biteau¹, Johannes Wendebourg¹, and Gilles Bitoun²
¹Exploration Division, TOTAL E&P, Paris, France
²Exploration Division, TOTAL E&P, Pau, France

Over the last 12 years, exploration success resulted in large discovered hydrocarbon volumes that demonstrate how prolific plays are able to deliver today and will continue to deliver in the future. This will certainly induce a time shift of the so-called peak oil. The prolific nature of these new (and old) plays is based on proven concepts of Petroleum Systems and their efficiency.

Results and conclusions
Recent hydrocarbon finds correspond mainly to six major petroleum plays that develop in different geological contexts: 1) Rifts and Grabens, 2) Carbonates extending mainly below salt, 3) Large Deltas and their outboard toes, 4) Abrupt Margins present in particular structural and sedimentary settings, 5) Foothills and 6) the emerging Unconventional Hydrocarbons.

Clearly a more dichotomic Petroleum Systems approach under static and dynamic conditions is the way to approach these plays, with the help of a set of technologies such as hydrocarbon generation and migration modelling, enhanced seismic imaging, geomechanical approaches to sealing and reservoir rocks, sedimentary modelling through time including climate variations, etc.

This revolution in play concepts requires that geoscientists incorporate a more dynamic approach in their mind than in the past. Such a mental change should also result in a bolder exploration strategy worldwide, leading to the emergence of new hunting grounds which were discarded in the past for various reasons that we will explain.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #120098©2013 AAPG Hedberg Conference Petroleum Systems: Modeling the Past, Planning the Future, Nice, France, October 1-5, 2012