Oil and Gas Prospects in the Venezuelan Offshore Area Identified Using a Regional Grid of 2-D Seismic Lines
Alejandro Escalona and Paul Mann
Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Although Venezuela is sixth largest oil producer in the world (>3 MMBOE per day), most production comes from two mature onland basins, the Maracaibo and Eastern Venezuelan. With the exception of the Orinoco delta currently under development, large offshore hydrocarbon discoveries of the offshore Venezuelan margin have been lacking. We summarize deepwater oil and gas prospects in three promising regions of offshore Venezuela using a grid of widely spaced 2D seismic lines that include the GULFREX data collected in 1974, the BOLIVAR data collected in 2004, and previously published results. The three regions include: 1) structural traps in fold-thrust structures of the accretionary prism of the South Caribbean deformed belt; these structures occur in >3000 m water depth and are formed as a response to Cenozoic subduction of the Caribbean plate beneath northern South America; gas hydrates and free gas ponded on anticlinal highs indicate the presence of a hydrocarbon system; possible source rocks are organic-rich Turonian shales of the subducting Venezuelan; 2) low-angle normal faults in the Bonaire basin are in < 1000 m water depth; these structures are sealed by late Miocene shale; possible source rocks are deeply buried Oligocene shale; 3) Miocene structural and stratigraphic traps at the southern boundary of the Tobago basin occur in water depths <1000 m; these structures are known to contain biogenic gas and condensate linked downdip to deeply buried, possibly Paleogene source rocks.