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Structural Style and Hydrocarbon Prospectivity in Fold and Thrust Belts


Cooper, Mark, EnCana Corporation, Calgary, AB


A statistical analysis of reserves in fold and thrust belts grouped by their geological attributes indicates which of the world’s fold and thrust belts are the most prolific hydrocar­bon provinces. The Zagros contains 49% of reserves in fold and thrust belts and has been isolated during the analysis to avoid bias. Excluding the Zagros most of the reserves are in thin skinned fold and thrust belts that have no salt detachment or salt seal, are partially buried by syn- or post-orogenic sediments, are sourced by Cretaceous source rocks and underwent their last phase of deformation during the Tertiary. A significant observation is that the 6 most richly endowed fold and thrust belts have no common set of geological attributes implying that these fold belts all have a unique element. These resource rich fold belts may share their attribute set with other fold and thrust belts but they overwhelmingly dominate the total reserves in that group of fold belts. Many of the prolific fold and thrust belts still have significant remaining upside as result of politically challenging access and remote locations. This paper characterises the structural style elements that make a fold and thrust belt a prolific hydrocarbon province. This can be used as an exploration model for the future exploration of compressional regimes for new hydrocarbon resources.