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Exploring for Deepwater Petroleum Systems with SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) – Fact or Fiction?: Comparing Results from Two of Today’s Hot-Spots (Congo Fan and Santos) with Two of Tomorrow’s (Campeche and Cariaco)

Alan K. Williams1, Geoffrey M. Lawrence2, and Michael King3
1 Nigel Press Associates, Edenbridge, United Kingdom
2 TreicoL, Knebworth, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
3 NPA Group, Edenbridge, Kent, United Kingdom

SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) seep detection has now become a technique of choice for many major players seeking a low cost, non-invasive, offshore basin screening tool, combining advantages over optical remote sensing methods of being operational both night and day and through heavy cloud cover. The commercial SAR archives (primarily ESA and Radarsat) now contain an invaluable resource of multiple pass data over many of the world's current deep-water hot-spots that give the explorer an opportunity for reducing (or eliminating) source risk at an early stage in the exploration cycle

As the result of screening over 75% of the worlds' sedimentary basins with SAR, regional seep distribution patterns have now been revealed which, in many cases, relate closely to both the basin style and the established seepage patterns from known producing basins. When such data have been followed-up by other low cost data-sets such as multi-beam bathymetry, gravity and shallow coring, significant competitive advantages in acquiring key acreage have resulted.

Recently integrated satellite seep data from two undrilled frontier basins, Cariaco basin, Venezuela and deep-water Campeche, Mexico will be compared with similar data from two present-day exploration hot spots, deep-water Congo Fan, Angola and the Santos Basin, Brazil. In these basins, where major new discoveries are now being made, positive results from early SAR seep screening studies in the mid 90's gave the first indications that deep-water petroleum systems were present.