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Petroleum System Analysis – An Industry Perspective

Nils Telnæs, Michael Erdmann, Christian Zwach, Arne Forsberg, Balazs Badics, and Olav Lauvrak
Statoil ASA, Norway

The presence of a Petroleum System is a prerequisite for successful exploration. In this presentation we will show the impact and importance of quantitative Petroleum System Analysis from an industry perspective. It has contributed to the evaluation of petroleum volumes generated within a basin and charge of prospective structures by investigating the main risk elements: source deposition and quality, timing and extent of petroleum generation, probabilistic volume estimates and the movement of petroleum in a basin. Using examples from the past and the present we will illustrate how an integrated and methodical approach, combining best practices and cutting edge technology has made a difference to Statoil’s exploration results over almost 40 years.

The evolution of the Petroleum System Analysis and the impact it has had on key exploration decisions will be illustrated: from simplified source rock characterization using analysis of total organic carbon 30 years ago, through detailed geochemical analysis and 2D basin modeling studies to today’s complex, high resolution 3D basin models, integrating many different types of data. New seep detection methods using satellites and advanced sonar techniques combined with geochemistry from coring has allowed rapid screening for active petroleum systems in frontier basins from which very little data is available.

With the access to increasingly more computing power we now have the ability to run very complex, and high resolution 3D basin models. The question still remains if we are able to populate these models with the required level of detail to trust the results, or whether these models become decoupled from observations and reality. The level of detail and morphology obtained from high resolution 3D seismic is not normally used in 3D basin models, but potentially will have a big effect on predicting migration of hydrocarbons. Fluid indicators from the seismic like gas chimneys, AVO attributes and DHIs offers new calibration points for migration, while direct temperature indicators from Seismic (DTIs) offers new calibration points for temperature.

We will share our vision how quantitative Petroleum System Analysis needs to be developed further in order to be a key part of the exploration and production tool box in industry. This vision includes a) the systematic and efficient handling of all critical uncertainties in data and model assumptions and b) efforts to bridge the gap between PSA specialists and other technical personnel (seismic interpreters, geologists, etc.) even further. We foresee that many companies in the future will aim to create and maintain large regional 3D models which are easily updated with new well results and seismic interpretation.

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