AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition

Datapages, Inc.Print this page

A New Kinematic Tool for Petroleum System Modeling in Complex Structural Settings


Petroleum system modeling is today recognized as a critical step in exploration workflows. Such basin reconstructions are however done in existing basin modeling technology using a major simplification: it is assumed that basins deform only vertically with sedimentation, compaction and vertical movements along faults. If the approach is reasonable in subsiding basins with moderate tectonic activity, it becomes less and less valid in basins affected by tangential tectonics observed in thrust belts, or listric faults and/or salt movement activity. In these complex areas, the reconstruction of basin burial and geometry, faults connectivity and fluids movements implies accounting for the actual horizontal deformation, requiring an appropriate practical workflow to be used by explorationists. New workflows linking structural restoration packages to basin modeling tools have emerged in the industry in this regards but still show strong limitations impacting their operational use. This communication discusses these limitations from a practical point of view and illustrates a new workflow intending to overcome these problems with the introduction of a new kind of 2D kinematic tool, designed in the first place for basin modeling purposes. Honoring both structural geology and basin modeling constraints, this tool aims at producing easily and rapidly consistent geological scenarios to feed new generation basin simulators. In addition to classic geometrical methods, a new mechanical engine taking into account compaction and rock mechanical properties is being investigated along with several deformation models. The ability to provide geologically valid results in all structural contexts and an intuitive definition of deformation parameters to optimize productivity constitute the core of the tool, dynamic mesh deformation being guaranteed through the model topology preservation as restoration work progresses. An application case from the Canadian foothills is used to illustrate this new technology and its ability to quickly generate tens of paleo-sections continuously deformed through time for basin modeling simulation. Foothills are typical regions where classic workflows do not apply and where explorationists struggle evaluating petroleum systems. This example shows to what extent this new approach allows increasing basin models structural complexity while meeting the industrial operations constraints, both in terms of execution time and results quality.