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Exploring for “Giants” in offshore West Greenland: New Play Concepts and Hydrocarbon Prospectivity in an emerging Frontier Rift Basin


Gardner, Robert I., Neil D. Ethier, Mark A. Cooper, EnCana Corporation, Calgary, AB


The challenge of finding new petroleum resources has prompted renewed exploration in the frontier rift basins of offshore West Greenland. Results from the recently drilled Qulleq­1 well in combination with a newly acquired seismic database have facilitated a complete re­evaluation of the area.

Exploration activities in offshore West Greenland were initiated in the early seventies and resulted in five exploration wells, which primarily tested the Tertiary section. Minor amounts of hydrocarbons were detected in only one of these wells (Kangamiut-1) and resulted in a hiatus in exploration activities. In 2000 Statoil drilled the exploration well Qulleq-1 which proved the presence of a Santonian sandstone reservoir overlain by a thick Campanian shale seal. The key geological risk in the basin remains the presence of source rock, however the recent discovery of widespread onshore seeps in the Nuussuaq Basin in combination with satellite identified slicks in the offshore basin areas provides evidence of a working petrole­um system. These findings, in combination with the interpretation of an extensive modern seismic grid have revealed all the required ingredients for a potential World Class petroleum basin.

New regional exploration models have been developed which unravel the rift basin expansion, evaluate facies distribution and identify viable source kitchens. Prospective areas have been high-graded by utilizing a Common Risk Segment Mapping technique that incor­porates all pertinent engineering and geological exploration risks. Within the areas of reduced risk, numerous structural and stratigraphic leads have been identified with individ­ual recoverable resources calculated to be in excess of 1000 mmbo.