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Using Surface Hydrocarbon Mapping to infer Subtle Faulting patterns and Hydrocarbon-Filled Fractures

Rick Schrynemeeckers
W. L. Gore & Associates

Over the last several years imports of foreign oil into the United States of America have decreased largely in part due to the proliferation and output of unconventional plays. However, as the price of natural gas has continued to drop, companies focused on resource plays are now directing their attention to shale oil and shale condensate to remain profitable. Thus it becomes paramount for technologies to emerge that can correctly characterize areas of dry gas, wet gas, and oil, as well as identify potential transition zones between them.

However, successful completion and fracing efforts often are the most expensive and most critical aspect of unconventional success. Even with 2-D seismic, 3-D seismic, and microseismic data it can be difficult to clearly delineate all faulting patterns. Additionally, fractures can have significant impacts on successful fracing efforts. Technologies that can be used in conjunction with 2-D seismic, 3-D seismic, and microseismic surveys can provide dramatic increases in success for unconventional completion efforts.

GORE’s Amplified Geochemical Imaging technology can be used to help identify subtle faulting and hydrocarbon-filled fractures. Amplified Geochemical Imaging is a direct surface hydrocarbon measurement technique that measures the vertical migration of volatile hydrocarbon compounds from subsurface reservoirs. These microseepage hydrocarbon compounds, up to C20, can be captured and measured at the surface resulting in the ability to identify and map subsurface hydrocarbon systems as well as clearly differentiate between various hydrocarbon phases, such as gas, condensate, or oil. These hydrocarbon maps can then be used to demarcate transition lines between the various hydrocarbon phases and direct exploration efforts to areas of higher profitability. Case studies will be shown to illustrate these points.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90164©2013 AAPG Southwest Section Meeting, Fredericksburg, Texas, April 6-10, 2013