--> Hydrocarbon Exploration Plays in the Great Caribbean Region and Neighboring Provinces, by Alejandro Escalona, Paul Mann, and Lisa Bingham, #10147 (2008)

Datapages, Inc.Print this page

Click to view presentation in PDF format.

Hydrocarbon Exploration Plays in the Great Caribbean Region and Neighboring Provinces*


Alejandro Escalona1, Paul Mann2, and Lisa Bingham2


Search and Discovery Article #10147 (2008)

Posted July 2, 2008

*Adapted from oral presentation at AAPG Annual Convention, San Antonio, Texas, April 20-23

1Department of Petroleum Engineering, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway ([email protected]) 

2Institute for Geophysics, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX  ([email protected]; [email protected])




The Caribbean region is located between two of the largest hydrocarbons provinces in the western hemisphere (the Gulf of Mexico and the northern South American foreland basins), and until now, it has been considered a hydrocarbon poor region. Because of lack of major exploration efforts and modern seismic data, the complex evolution of the Caribbean plate since the Late Cretaceous, and poor understanding on the origin, quality, and distribution of source and reservoir rocks, it is not clear how much the hydrocarbon potential of the Caribbean region is becoming a challenge for explorationists. However, the presence of oil indicator plays, oil and gas seeps, geochemical data, oil fields (Barbados, Cuba, etc.), and giant gas fields (offshore northern South America) around all margins of the Caribbean plate, the increasing need for more reserves and the strategic location to US and European markets makes the Caribbean region a more attractive target for current and future exploration.


By integrating thousands of km of old and new 2D seismic data, together with existing well and surface data, we present a regional overview of key areas for exploration in the Caribbean region. Key areas include:

  •  Cuban Eocene foreland basin and southern Gulf of Mexico Paleogene wedge

  • Nicaraguan Rise region

  • Offshore Caribbean margin of Colombia

  • Grenada and Tobago basins

  • Barbados accretionary prism.


On all these regions, a common factor that makes them attractive is their location at the edges of the Caribbean plate along areas of collision with the passive margins of North and South America which contain proven source rocks and large continental paleodrainages for good quality reservoir rocks.



















































Selected Figures

Figure 1 Economic significance of Caribbean region and neighboring areas.

Figure 2 Present-day continental-scale drainage systems; numbers correspond to key offshore frontier areas.
Figure 3 Perspective view of northern part of region.

Figure 4

Tectonic phases at the Americas-Caribbean scale 

Figure 5

Controls on known source-rock distribution

Figure 5

Cuba foreland basin: Paleogene wedges-thrust


Paleogene paleogeography, with provenance of reservoir rocks for the Nicaraguan Rise – Jamaica region.


Continental-scale Miocene paleodrainage, with leading edge of the Caribbean.


Offshore northwestern Venezuela hydrocarbon provinces controlled by basement type.


Interpreted seismic profiles of accretionary prism, Barbados basin and environs (modified from Clavlerton et al., 2004): seal capacity and trap size?


Interpretive seismic profile, Tobago forearc basin and Tobago terrane


Regional schematic cross-sections, offshore eastern Trinidad, Neogene-Recent foreland basin.


Cameron, N.R., C. Matchette-Downes, J. Zumberge, and R. Wight, 2004,Jamaican oil biomarkers require a re-examination of the petroleum geology of northern Caribbean: AAPG International Conference and Exhibition Program Abstracts, Cancun, Mexico, AAPG Search and Discovery, http://www.searchanddiscovery.net/documents/abstracts/2004intl_cancun/short/A89976.pdf.


Chaderton, N.A., L.J. Wood, and P. Mann, 2004, Structure and stratigraphy of the Barbados accretionary prism and the Tobago Forearc:,AGU fall meeting, San Francisco California, EOS Transactions v. 85/47, Abstract T33B-1382.


Dolan, J.F., and D.D. Bowman, 2004, Tectonic and seismologic setting of the 22 September 2003, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic earthquake; implications for earthquake hazard in northern Hispaniola: Seismological Reserch Letters, v. 75/5, p. 587-597.


Gorney, D., A. Escalona, P. Mann, M.B. Magnani and Bolivar Study Group, 2007, Chronology of Cenozoic tectonic events in western Venezuela and the Leeward Antilles based on integration of offshore seismic reflection data and on-land geology: AAPG Bulletin, v. 91, p. 653-684.


Kolla, V., R.T. Buffler, and J.W. Ladd, 1984, Seismic stratigraphy and sedimentation of Magdalena Fan, southern Colombian Basin, Caribbean Sea: AAPG Bulletin, v. 68/3, p. 316-332.


Leroy, S., B. Mercier de Lepinary, A. Mauffret, and M. Pubellier, 1996, Structural and tectonic evolution of the eastern Cayman Trough (Caribbean Sea) from seismic reflection data: AAPG Bulletin, v. 80/2, p. 222-247.


Perez-Guillermo, H., and J.F. Blickwede, 2000, Cuba deepwater exploration opportunities described in southeastern Gulf of Mexico: Oil and Gas Journal, v. 98/50, p. 42-44, 46-48.


Ruiz-Martínez, V.C., M.L. Osete, R. Vegas, J.I. Nüñez-Aguillar, et al., 2000, Palaeomagnetism of Late Miocene to Quaternary volcanics from the eastern segment of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt: Tectonophysics, v. 318/1-4, p. 217-233.


Return to top