--> What is the State of Understanding of Super Basins, The World’s Richest Oil and Gas Basins?

AAPG Hedberg Conference, The Evolution of Petroleum Systems Analysis

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What is the State of Understanding of Super Basins, The World’s Richest Oil and Gas Basins?


Super Basins have been identified as basins with 5 BBOE produced, 5 BBOE yet to produce, multiple pays, multiple plays, at least one major prolific source rock petroleum system, and extensive infrastructure (Fryklund and Stark, 2016 IHS Markit). While there may be technically more than 100 super basins around the world, review of the top 30 super basins (48 contiguous sub basins) out of 870 petroleum bearing basins, indicate that the top 3‐5% of petroleum basins contain about 57% of the of the world’s giant oil and gas fields (giant=500 MMBOE, 656 out of 1142). In other words, the world’s richest super basins also contain 10 times the number of giant fields relative to all petroleum bearing basins. Beginning with the AAPG Super Basin Initiative of 2018 (March AAPG Bulletin), AAPG and industry are teaming up to take stock of our collective knowledge of the top petroleum basins on the planet. What is the state of understanding of the world’s top 30 basins (light blue outlines, Figure 1)? Ongoing research includes: what is the extent of geoscience literature on super basins, what are the key Arc GIS layers that can contribute to a betting understanding of oil and gas production in super basins, how well do we understand the architecture of source rocks, petroleum systems, reservoir, seals, fracture and permeability fabrics, pressure cells, timing of migration, uplift, structural setting, structural tilts producing residual oil zones (ROZ) and other factors including above ground issues. Petroleum modeling and source global source rocks are key drivers. The goal is to stimulate discussion on the world’s biggest basins. Do you have burial history and source rock maturation profiles for one or more of the world’s super basins? Can you discuss the state of knowledge on estimates of source rocks generation potential and actual found volumes? Can basin super basin petroleum system histories be grouped by tectonic setting into meaningful categories to help us draw insights on past and future potential? Super basins are important because many have undergone an energy renaissance within the last 10 years resulting from 1) hydraulic fracturing of unconventional resources in onshore basins (Permian Basin, Texas plus 7 other North American Basins and the Neuquen Basin, Argentina), 2) enhanced seismic imaging (e.g Sub Salt Gulf of Mexico, Campos and Santos Basins of Pre Salt Brazil), 3) natural gas basins and LNG (Carnarvon, NW Australia) and 4) perhaps tar sandstone resources (e.g. Canada and Russia). We are identifying classes of super basins that are representative centers of excellence that can help us develop anticipatory insights in other super basins and basins around the world. We are developing strategies to find stratigraphic and structural trap populations, similarities and differences in basins, ways to prioritize both conventional and unconventional production suitability, and ways to leverage the collective knowledge of global super basins. Data management and “Big Data” have an important role to play in onshore basins and in offshore basins. As we understand the world’s greatest basins and giant fields, we gain insights to the entire ecosystem of basins and fields of all sizes.