Petroleum systems emphasized

Memoir Explores Southern GOM Geology

After being derided as the Dead Sea a decade ago, the Gulf of Mexico has experienced what inarguably can be best described as an awesome turnaround in the realm of exploration and production.

Today, it’s one of the single largest suppliers of oil and gas to the U.S. markets, according to the MMS.

Some of the ongoing action is kind of mind boggling considering there not only are big finds being tapped but they can be in such disparate areas of this big body of water.

For instance, Shell reportedly is beginning production from the deepwater Lower Tertiary Trend at its Perdido project, which was 10 years in the making. The Perdido complex will handle production from three deepwater fields. It’s said to be the first project to achieve commercial production of oil and natural gas from this frontier play area in the ultra-deep environs of the GOM.

Almost simultaneously, McMoRan Exploration has hit what appears to be a Big One on the shallow water shelf with its approximately five-mile deep Davy Jones discovery, which some analysts estimate may hold between two and six Tcfe of reserves.

But the GOM is a mighty big area, and there’s still a lot more to learn – and explore.

Indispensible Information

Technical meetings, books and papers are indispensable to help get up to speed on a locale, and if the southern Gulf is what turns you on, AAPG Memoir 90 is a must-have.

Claudio Bartolini
Claudio Bartolini

The newly published book – Petroleum Systems in the Southern Gulf of Mexico – is the result of a cooperative agreement between Spanish oil company Repsol and Mexico’s national oil company, Pemex, according to Repsol senior geologist and AAPG member Claudio Bartolini.

Additional funding support for the book was provided by the AAPG Foundation.

Bartolini and Pemex senior geologist Juan R. Roman Ramos co-edited Memoir 90.

“This is the first international book comprised of papers from geoscientists in Pemex and the Mexican Petroleum Institute,” Bartolini said. “The book focuses on the southern Gulf of Mexico prolific onshore and offshore basins with an emphasis on the petroleum systems.”

He emphasized that it’s a multi-disciplinary book that presents a wide range of topics. The lengthy list includes:

  • Organic geochemistry.
  • Petroleum systems analysis.
  • Salt tectonics.
  • Petroleum prospectivity evaluations.
  • Geophysical interpretation.
  • Basin modeling.
  • Petrophysics.
  • Stratigraphy and sedimentology.
  • Structural geology and tectonics.
  • Biostratigraphy and paleontology.
  • Sediment provenance studies.
  • Potential fields.

But why such emphasis on the southern Gulf, you ask?

Bartolini explained succinctly.

“The oil industry in the U.S.A. has long been exploring the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico, including exploration in deep waters near the border with Mexico,” he noted. “Unfortunately, until now, there was little information available on the geology and petroleum potential on the Mexican side of the Gulf.”

Distribution and Diversity

Memoir 90 is very much an information turning point.

Bartolini emphasized the book addresses critical aspects of the GOM regional geology, especially the structural geology and structural styles of Mesozoic and Cenozoic successions and their influence on oil and gas accumulations offshore the southern part of the Gulf.

“Salt and shale tectonics are for the first time analyzed in a petroleum exploration context,” he said. “Offshore Salina and Isthmus basins in the southern Gulf have great petroleum potential associated with shale diapirism and allochthonous salt.”

Memoir 90 includes an overall analysis, description and distribution of the principal petroleum systems in the southern Gulf of Mexico. This is complemented by geological modeling and geochemistry studies of selected areas with the intent to understand the evolution of petroleum systems through time.

“Distribution, type and generative potential of the different source rocks are analyzed,” Bartolini said. “Also, distribution of oil families and their correlation to the prolific areas offshore are presented.”

The bulk of the contributed articles address diverse geologic aspects associated with oil and gas exploration, including play analysis, sediment provenance analysis and biostratigraphy of offshore and onshore wells not previously published.

The practical information-packed book even goes into detail about the palynology of Lower Middle Jurassic redbeds and the paleontology of Jurassic source rocks.

Once you have a copy in your possession, it no doubt will become a permanent addition to your library.

“This book is a must for exploration geologists and geophysicists, research scientists, faculty and students who want to learn about the new exploratory knowledge on the petroleum geology of the Mexican Gulf of Mexico,” Bartolini emphasized.

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