Umiat field in northern Alaska is a shallow, light-oil accumulation with an estimated original oil in place of more than 1.5 billion bbl and 99 bcf associated gas. The field, discovered in 1946, was never considered viable because it is shallow, in permafrost, and far from any infrastructure. Modern drilling and production techniques now make Umiat a more attractive target if the behavior of a rock, ice, and light oil system at low pressure can be understood and simulated.
The Umiat reservoir consists of shoreface and deltaic sandstones of the Cretaceous Nanushuk Formation deformed by a thrust-related anticline. Depositional environment imparts a strong vertical and horizontal permeability anisotropy to the reservoir that may be further complicated by diagenesis and open natural fractures.
Experimental and theoretical studies indicate that there is a significant reduction in the relative permeability of oil in the presence of ice, with a maximum reduction when connate water is fresh and less reduction when water is saline. A representative Umiat oil sample was reconstituted by comparing the composition of a severely weathered Umiat fluid to a theoretical Umiat fluid composition derived using the Pedersen method. This sample was then used to determine fluid properties at reservoir conditions such as bubble point pressure, viscosity, and density.
These geologic and engineering data were integrated into a simulation model that indicate recoveries of 12%–15% can be achieved over a 50-yr production period using cold gas injection from five well pads with a wagon-wheel configuration of multilateral wells.
Added on 28 February, 2014
We use three-dimensional seismic reflection data and new map-based structural restoration methods to define the displacement history and characteristics of a series of tear faults in the deep-water Niger Delta. Deformation in the deep-water Niger Delta is focused mostly within two fold-and-thrust belts that accommodate downdip shortening produced by updip extension on the continental shelf. This shortening is accommodated by a series of thrust sheets that are locally cut by strike-slip faults. Through seismic mapping and interpretation, we resolve these strike-slip faults to be tear faults that share a common detachment level with the thrust faults. Acting in conjunction, these structures have accommodated a north –south gradient in westward-directed shortening. We apply a map-based restoration technique implemented in Gocad to restore an upper stratigraphic horizon of the late Oligocene and use this analysis to calculate slip profiles along the strike-slip faults. The slip magnitudes and directions change abruptly along the lengths of the tear faults as they interact with numerous thrust sheets. The discontinuous nature of these slip profiles reflects the manner in which they have accommodated differential movement between the footwall and hanging-wall blocks of the thrust sheets. In cases for which the relationship between a strike-slip fault and multiple thrust faults is unclear, the recognition of this type of slip profile may distinguish thin-skinned tear faults from more conventional deep-seated, throughgoing strike-slip faults.
Added on 28 February, 2014
We present a method of using fault displacement-distance profiles to distinguish fault-bend, shear fault-bend, and fault-propagation folds, and use these insights to guide balanced and retrodeformable interpretations of these structures. We first describe the displacement profiles associated with different end-member fault-related folding models, then provide examples of structures that are consistent with these model-based predictions. Natural examples are imaged in high-resolution two- and three dimensional seismic reflection data sets from the Niger Delta, Sichuan Basin, Sierras Pampeanas, and Cascadia to record variations in displacement with distance updip along faults (termed displacement-distance profiles). Fault-bend folds exhibit constant displacement along fault segments and changes in displacement associated with bends in faults, shear fault-bend folds demonstrate an increase in displacement through the shearing interval, and fault-propagation folds exhibit decreasing displacement toward the fault tip. More complex structures are then investigated using this method, demonstrating that displacement-distance profiles can be used to provide insight into structures that involve multiple fault-related folding processes or have changed kinematic behavior over time. These interpretations are supported by comparison with the kinematics inferred from the geometry of growth strata overlying these structures. Collectively, these analyses illustrate that the displacement-distance approach can provide valuable insights into the styles of fault-related folding.
Added on 31 January, 2014
The central Black Sea Basin of Turkey is filled by more than 9 km (6 mi) of Upper Triassic to Holocene sedimentary and volcanic rocks. The basin has a complex history, having evolved from a rift basin to an arc basin and finally having become a retroarc foreland basin. The Upper Triassic–Lower Jurassic Akgol and Lower Cretaceous Cağlayan Formations have a poor to good hydrocarbon source rock potential, and the middle Eocene Kusuri Formation has a limited hydrocarbon source rock potential. The basin has oil and gas seeps. Many large structures associated with extensional and compressional tectonics, which could be traps for hydrocarbon accumulations, exist.
Fifteen onshore and three offshore exploration wells were drilled in the central Black Sea Basin, but none of them had commercial quantities of hydrocarbons. The assessment of these drilling results suggests that many wells were drilled near the Ekinveren, Erikli, and Ballıfakı thrusts, where structures are complex and oil and gas seeps are common. Many wells were not drilled deep enough to test the potential carbonate and clastic reservoirs of the İnaltı and Cağlayan Formations because these intervals are locally buried by as much as 5 km (3 mi) of sedimentary and volcanic rocks. No wells have tested prospective structures in the north and east where the prospective İnalti and Cağlayan Formations are not as deeply buried. Untested hydrocarbons may exist in this area.
Added on 28 February, 2013
Outcrops of the Cretaceous high-porosity sandstone of the Southeast Basin, France, show two main types of deformation structures: a large number of small-offset, shear-enhanced cataclastic deformation bands (DBs); and a small number of large (meters to decameters)-offset ultracataclastic fault zones. Microstructural analyses of the cataclastic DBs show that fragmentation produces strands of cataclastic fragment-supported matrix, separated by weakly fractured host rock, which cluster to form the DBs. The ultracataclastic fault zones, however, are composed of a matrix-supported ultracataclasite material. Permeability data show that the DBs reduce host-rock permeability by 0.5 to 2 orders of magnitude, whereas the ultracataclasites reduce permeability by approximately 4 orders. Simple calculations considering the structural frequency, thickness, and permeability of these faults suggest that, although the DBs may have an impact on single-phase flow, it is most likely to be less than a 50% reduction in flow rate in extensional contexts, but it may be more severe in the most extreme cases of structural density in tectonic shortening contexts. The larger ultracataclastic faults, however, despite their much lower frequency, will have a more significant reduction in flow rate, probably of approximately 90 to 95%. Hence, although they are commonly at or below the limit of seismic resolution, the detection and/or prediction of such ultracataclastic faults is likely to be more important for single-phase flow problems than DBs (although important two-phase questions remain). The study also suggests that it is inappropriate to use the petrophysical properties of core-scale DB structures as analogs to larger seismic-scale faults.
Added on 28 February, 2013
We do not dispute that the pores shown in the photomicrograph of figure 8G of Beavington-Penney et al. (2008; reproduced here as Figure 1) could have formed at least partly by poststylolite dissolution, but we do not agree that this photomicrograph constitutes evidence for porosity creation by mesogenetic dissolution in the El Garia Formation of offshore Tunisia. Our skepticism is based on two main considerations: (1) that the multiple possible origins of the pores shown in Figure 1 cannot be determined with any meaningful degree of objective certainty and (2) that Figure 1 appears to be unrepresentative of pore types in the El Garia Formation, based on comparison with numerous other published images from this unit.
Added on 31 January, 2013
Assets within the Appalachian Basin range from conventional clastic and carbonate reservoirs to source rocks of Devonian black shale and Pennsylvanian coal, all of which are fractured.
Added on 15 January, 2014
The quest to establish a commercially viable thermogenic petroleum system in the Tobago Basin continues.
Added on 01 September, 2013
Explorer Geophysical Corner
Fracture zones can be critical to improving or creating sufficient porosity and permeability in hydrocarbon reservoirs – with strain, along with lithology and thickness being the major controls.
Added on 01 July, 2013
In the rough terrain of overthrust settings, 2-D seismic data continues to be a standard tool for subsurface mapping – and not only because of economic reasons. Two-D and 3-D seismic surveys are complementary in land environments, because each data type has its own strength and weakness.
Added on 01 August, 2012