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Basin Analysis and Hydrocarbon Potential of the Papuan Basin, a Frontier Basin in Papua New Guinea


The Papuan basin is a lightly explored foreland basin on the Western portion of the island of Papua New Guinea. The Papuan basin consists of several drilled wells on both the onshore and offshore portions of the basin. Presently, the Papuan basin is considered a frontier basin due to the lack of a significant number of dry exploration wells. Some of these wells have limited production, while most are dry holes. Limited seismic control, combined with a structurally complex basin and poor infrastructure, have hindered current exploration activities. The goal of this study is to correlate stratigraphic units within currently drilled wells, and determine why current wells in the Papuan Basin are less productive than similar foreland basins. Advances in modern modeling software allows for new stratigraphic and structural correlations to be made across the basin, which will ultimately lead to further hydrocarbon exploration and discoveries. Currently, we interpret 2 major hydrocarbon producing sections within the Papuan Basin. These consist of the Jurassic Imburu Formation, and Miocene and older carbonates such as the Yala and Darai limestones. Jurassic sandstones such as the Toro provide excellent reservoir rocks for migrated hydrocarbons that are ultimately sealed by the Jurassic Ieru Formation. Our investigation suggests that a combination of maturity and trapping issues limit the production of the Jurassic units. Producing Jurassic sections follow two structural models. The first model is controlled by horst and graben faulting from extensional tectonics. Jurassic units in the graben have plunged deep enough to enter the zone for thermal maturation of hydrocarbons. The second producing zone in the Jurassic occurs on the upthrown blocks of reverse faults. Uplift of the Lower Jurassic provides excellent structural traps for condensate and gas migration and accumulation. Target hydrocarbons are anticlinal structures located on the upthrown blocks. The Southern portion of the onshore Papuan Basin is dominated by a productive Miocene carbonate reef system that extends into the Gulf of Papua. Outside of these two production zones, formations in the Jurassic are relatively unproductive at depths shallower than 2000 meters. Further seismic exploration and well log data will need to be gathered in order to further analyze stratigraphic gaps between numerous wells.