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Petroleum Potential of the Florida-Cuba-Bahamas Collision Zone

Abstract

Hydrocarbon exploration within the Cuba-Florida-Bahamas collision zone has been unsuccessful since the 1980s; recent deepwater drilling off the northern coast of Cuba has yielded only non-commercial shows or dry holes. Most of the plays in this region have been tested and have failed due to a lack of charge focus, poor trap integrity, or poor/non-commercial reservoir deliverability. A new play concept with significant volumetric and commercial potential is required in order to justify further exploration in the region.

One prospective area that has yet to be adequately evaluated with modern seismic and drilling technology lies between the northeastern Cuban coast and the southern Great Bahamas Bank. The principal untested play for this area targets Upper Triassic to Lower/Middle Jurassic sandstones trapped within compressional anticlines, sealed by regionally extensive evaporites. Charge is provided by Lower to Upper Jurassic estuarine and euxinic deepwater shales, which are expected to yield light oil, condensate, and gas. Fractured and dolomitized Jurassic and Upper and Lower Neocomian carbonates will serve as secondary objectives in the play.

Principal below ground risks include reservoir presence and deliverability, trap/seal integrity, charge access/volume, and product type (oil vs. gas). Although risky, the deep Jurassic sandstone/carbonate play in the foreland likely contains hydrocarbon volumes that will justify a costly exploration program.