--> --> What Makes a Good Prospect?, by Daniel J. Tearpock, #70024 (2006).
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What Makes a Good Prospect?*


Daniel J. Tearpock1


Search and Discovery Article #70024 (2006)

Posted November 6, 2006


*Oral presentation at AAPG Annual Convention, Houston, Texas, April 9-12, 2006: AAPG Previous HitForumNext Hit: Winning the Oil End Game: The Future of Hydrocarbon Resources in Our Global Economy, April, 12, 2006


Click to view presentation in PDF format (~5.3 mb).


1Subsurface Consultants & Associates, LLC, Houston, TX ([email protected])



Let's not be too quick to drill that next dry hole!  

Prospects are generated to sell an idea. Prospectors must be optimistic in their work or they may be incapable of identifying hydrocarbon potential. When potential is identified, a prospector must be able to convince someone to drill or invest in the prospect.  

Prospect interpretations may be optimistic, pessimistic, unrealistic or downright impossible. How does a company or investor distinguish a great prospect from a mediocre one or a reasonable prospect interpretation from an impossible one? This determination is accomplished by applying the same expertise to evaluate prospects that is required to generate them.  

We far too often hear these immortal words “the trap was not present, objectives were shaled out, there was no seal, fault timing was too late, or seismic velocity problems were not recognized.” Considering the costs involved in drilling a prospect, we address the following questions. What technical work is required to generate a good prospect? How do I recognize a good prospect? What do I look for in the technical work completed? What questions do I ask? When a significant investment decision needs to be made regarding a prospect, how do I evaluate the technical merits of the prospect?


Selected Figures 

Map showing two Previous HitdevelopmentNext Hit prospects, based on 3D data, well control, and Previous HitproductionNext Hit data. 

Map as above; yet, the portrayal is of two unsuccessful/noneconomic Previous HitdevelopmentTop wells, resulting from an impossible geological interpretation. 


Click to view in sequence the map before and after critical examination. 

Why do some prospects fail?