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Explorer Article

The second annual Playmaker Forum will build on the success of last year’s event, offering professional development, networking, and tricks of the trade from some of the best oil finders in the world.

Explorer Article

Shale may be the reservoir du jour, but a wide range of conventional reservoirs still hold promise in diverse regions throughout the world.


The Tarim Basin is one of the most important hydrocabon-bearing evaporite basins in China. Four salt-bearing sequences, the Middle and Lower Cambrian, the Mississippian, the Paleogene, and the Neogene, have various thickness and areal distribution. They are important detachment layers and intensely affect the structural deformation in the basin. The Kuqa depression is a subordinate structural unit with abundant salt structures in the Tarim Basin. Salt overthrusts, salt pillows, salt anticlines, salt diapirs, and salt-withdrawal basins are predominant in the depression. Contraction that resulted from orogeny played a key function on the formation of salt structures. Growth strata reveal that intense salt structural deformation in the Kuqa depression occurred during the Himalayan movement from Oligocene to Holocene, with early structural deformation in the north and late deformation in the south. Growth sequences also record at least two phases of salt tectonism. In the Yingmaili, Tahe, and Tazhong areas, low-amplitude salt pillows are the most common salt structures, and these structures are commonly accompanied by thrust faults. The faulting and uplifting of basement blocks controlled the location of salt structures. The differences in the geometries of salt structures in different regions show that the thickness of the salt sequences has an important influence on the development of salt-cored detachment folds and related thrust faults in the Tarim Basin.

Salt sequences and salt structures in the Tarim Basin are closely linked to hydrocarbon accumulations. Oil and gas fields have been discovered in the subsalt, intrasalt, and suprasalt strata. Salt deformation has created numerous potential traps, and salt sequences have provided a good seal for the preservation of hydrocarbon accumulations. Large- and small-scale faults related with salt structures have also given favorable migration pathways for oil and gas. When interpreting seismic profiles, special attention needs to be paid to the clastic and carbonate interbeds within the salt sequences because they may lead to incorrect structural interpretation. In the Tarim Basin, the subsalt anticlinal traps are good targets for hydrocarbon exploration.


In prospective basins affected by exhumation, uncertainty commonly exists regarding the maximum burial depths of source, reservoir, and seal horizons. One such basin is the Otway Basin, an important gas province in southeastern Australia, which has witnessed several exhumation events. Here, we present estimates of net exhumation magnitudes for 110 onshore and offshore petroleum wells based on the sonic transit time analyses of Lower Cretaceous fluvial shales. Our results show significant post-Albian net exhumation in the eastern onshore Otway Basin (gt1500 m [sim4920 ft]) and a generally minor net exhumation (lt200 m [sim655 ft]) elsewhere in the Otway Basin, consistent with estimates based on thermal history data. The distribution of net exhumation magnitudes in relation to mid-Cretaceous and Neogene compressional structures indicates that exhumation was dominantly controlled by short-wavelength basin inversion driven by plate-boundary forces.

Deeper burial coupled with high geothermal gradients in the onshore eastern Otway Basin and along the northern basin margin during the early Cretaceous have rendered Lower Cretaceous source rocks mostly overmature, with any remaining hydrocarbons from the initial charge likely to be trapped in tightly compacted reservoirs and/or secondary (fracture-related) porosity. However, the embrittlement of these reservoirs during their deeper burial may present opportunities for the development of low-permeability plays through hydraulic fracturing where smectite clay minerals are illitized. Source rocks at near-maximum burial at present day are at temperatures suitable for gas generation, with key controls on prospectivity in these areas including the sealing potential of faulted traps and the relationship between charge and trap development.

The Gulf of Mexico (GOM) is the 9th largest body of water on earth, covering an area of approximately 1.6 million km2 with water depths reaching 4,400 m (14,300’). The basin formed as a result of crustal extension during the early Mesozoic breakup of Pangaea. Rifting occurred from the Late Triassic to early Middle Jurassic. Continued extension through the Middle Jurassic combined with counter-clockwise rotation of crustal blocks away from North America produced highly extended continental crust in the subsiding basin center. Subsidence eventually allowed oceanic water to enter from the west leading to thick, widespread, evaporite deposition. Seafloor spreading initiated in the Late Jurassic eventually splitting the evaporite deposits into northern (USA) and southern (Mexican) basins. Recent work suggests that this may have been accomplished by asymmetric extension, crustal delamination, and exposure of the lower crust or upper mantle rather than true sea floor spreading (or it could be some combination of the two).

Hydrocarbon exploration beneath the shallow allochthonous salt canopy of the ultra-deepwater central Gulf of Mexico has encountered three thick, sand-rich, submarine fan successions that punctuate an otherwise relatively condensed and fine-grained basin center stratigraphy. These sand-rich fans are Late Paleocene, Early Miocene, and Middle Miocene in age and each coincide with periods of very high sediment flux and basin margin instability. They are the primary exploration targets in most ultra-deepwater fields, recent discoveries, and failed exploration tests.


Seismic correlations and well data confirm that deep-water carbonate beds of Mesozoic age have been found above the shallow allochthonous salt canopy in the northern Gulf of Mexico. These rafts of carbonate strata often overlie equivalent age Mesozoic carbonates in their correct stratigraphic position below the salt canopy.

The origin of keel structures is presently not well understood. As deformation occurs after shallow canopy emplacement, the keels are fairly recent developments geologically. Volumetrically few but intriguing observations suggest possible basement involvement in keel formation.

VG Abstract

With technical advances in surface seismic and downhole electrical imaging techniques, it is now possible to not only map the distribution of reservoir sandstones in the subsurface, but to accurately define the orientation of productive fairways, or “sweet-spots”, within the sequence.

Channel sands frequently have favorable reservoir characteristics. Having often been laid down in higher energy settings, they commonly have coarser and better sorted grains, less clay and improved poroperm characteristics. However, they often have limited lateral extent and shoe-string geometries which make them more difficult to predict in the subsurface.

This paper will summarize the results of four case studies and some additional examples of how channel sands, laid down in different depositional settings, have been recognized with borehole imaging. From sedimentary features and palaeocurrent directions within the sands it has been possible to determine their orientation.

Explorer Emphasis Article

It’s now been shown that the “sweet” aspect of an identified sweet spot can change – not only stratigraphically, but also laterally within the zone itself.

Explorer Article

Edinburgh, Scotland, has a new research center planning to open its doors in 2015. It is the Sir Charles Lyell Centre, named after Britain's 19th century geologist. The uptick of interest in emerging industries of shale oil and gas and deep sea metal mining is just one of the areas of the focus planned for the centre.

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In-Person Training
Salt Lake City Utah United States 14 September, 2014 21 September, 2014 151
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
14-21 September 2014

Participants will learn a specific and comprehensive methodology for finding and developing conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources associated with lake deposits. The seminar will start with the Quaternary Bonneville basin in Utah, to build familiarity with lacustrine depositional processes. Participants then examine world-famous exposures of organic-rich mudstone, fluvial sandstone, and carbonate microbialite facies in Wyoming.

Dubai United Arab Emirates 21 September, 2014 24 September, 2014 8548
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
21-24 September 2014

Leveraging from global analogues, the workshop aims to apply lessons worldwide to the Middle East Shale Gas setting. Additionally, the workshop will explore several distinct features in the region. We anticipate rich discussions to further understand these new potential reservoirs. 

Muscat Oman 20 October, 2014 22 October, 2014 8553
Muscat, Oman
20-22 October 2014

This three-day workshop will be dedicated to sharing knowledge, ideas, and workflows pertaining to exploration for stratigraphically trapped hydrocarbon accumulations in the Middle East. The workshop will emphasize case studies involving both carbonates and clastics — in order to help focus explorationists in their search for these types of traps. 

Denver Colorado United States 25 October, 2014 26 October, 2014 9125
Denver, Colorado, United States
25-26 October 2014

Unconventional petroleum systems are becoming much more important world wide in oil and gas exploration and development. This field trip will examine several unconventional systems in the Denver and Florence-Canon City basins.

Houston Texas United States 12 November, 2014 12 November, 2014 10568
Houston, Texas, United States
12 November 2014

This course provides a rigorous overview of how and where organic-rich rocks are deposited, how they evolve into oil- and gas-generating source rocks, how the porosity systems evolve with thermal maturation, and the petrophysical properties of shale-gas and shale-liquid fine-grained reservoirs.

Houston Texas United States 13 November, 2014 13 November, 2014 10379
Houston, Texas, United States
13 November 2014

This course is an introduction to the Bakken/Three Forks resource play.

Golden Colorado United States 17 November, 2014 19 November, 2014 10243
Golden, Colorado, United States
17-19 November 2014

Participants will learn how to be successful in utilizing the Three Forks in a stacked-pay, pad-drilling strategy when producing various Bakken members.

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 08 December, 2014 09 December, 2014 11419
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
8-9 December 2014

The goal of this course is to provide a review and an update on the status and lessons learned in the world's major unconventional plays.

Bogota Colombia 10 December, 2014 11 December, 2014 11015
Brisbane Australia 12 February, 2015 13 February, 2015 11170
Brisbane, Australia
12-13 February 2015

The aim of the workshop is to provide an initial overview of CBM opportunities in the Asia Pacific and to share and examine recent technological advancements in geological understanding and in key engineering practices which are emerging from around the region.

Oklahoma City Oklahoma United States 19 February, 2015 19 February, 2015 11378
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
19 February 2015


14 February, 3000 14 February, 3000 7816
14 February, 3000 14 February, 3000 7812
14 February, 3000 14 February, 3000 7815
14 February, 3000 14 February, 3000 7813
Online Training
30 October, 2014 30 October, 2014 11390
30 October 2014

Cross disciplinary workflows play an important part of successful characterization of shale reservoirs. This course discusses how the artificial kerogen maturity of organic-rich Green River shale affects the petrophysical, micro-structural, geochemical and elastic properties.

02 October, 2014 02 October, 2014 10593
2 October 2014
This course is ideal for individuals involved in Midland Basin exploration and development. Successful development of Wolfcamp shale oil relies on complex inter-relationships (ultimately interdependencies) within and between a wide variety of scientific disciplines, financial entities, and company partnerships. 
01 January, 2014 01 January, 9999 3160
1 January 2014 - 1 January 9999

Learn to critically evaluate current issues that can impact growth and sustainability of oil and gas ventures.

10 May, 2012 10 May, 2012 1486
10 May 2012

Recognition and Correlation of the Eagle Ford, Austin Formations in South Texas can be enhanced with High Resolution Biostratigraphy, fossil abundance peaks and Maximum Flooding Surfaces correlated to Upper Cretaceous sequence stratigraphic cycle chart after Gradstein, 2010.

12 July, 2012 12 July, 2012 1490
12 July 2012

This presentation will look at well placement vertically in the pay, well azimuth and well trajectory with explanations of how geology and post-depositional effects can make the difference between a successful well and a failure.

29 September, 2011 29 September, 2011 1478
29 September 2011

This study will focus in the combination of λρ – μρ inversion with clustering analysis techniques in order to discriminate brittle zones in the Barnett Shale.

16 February, 2012 16 February, 2012 1483
16 February 2012

This presentation describes a proven workflow that uses a standard narrow azimuth 3D seismic, conventional logs, image logs and core data to build five key reservoir properties required for an optimal development of shale plays.

06 October, 2011 06 October, 2011 1479
6 October 2011

The e-symposium contains several case studies and log examples of bypassed pay and unconventional resources including Niobrara, Bakken, Marcellus, offshore GOM and others examples including processed log quality issues.

09 February, 2012 09 February, 2012 1477
9 February 2012

Projects in several shales will be discussed, including Marcellus, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Fayetteville, Montney, and Barnett, as will several seismically-detectable drivers for success including lithofacies, stress, pre-existing fractures, and pore pressure.

26 September, 2013 26 September, 2013 1497
26 September 2013

The presentation will discuss key reservoir information and how to develop a predictive pressure model.

01 January, 2013 01 January, 9999 1459
1 January 2013 - 1 January 9999

There are more approximately 1,000 oil and gas fields in the world that have been classified as "giant," containing more than 500 million barrels of recoverable oil and /or 3 trillion cubic feet of gas.

31 October, 2012 31 October, 2012 1492
31 October 2012

This e-symposium will focus on how surface geochemical surveys and Downhole Geochemical Imaging technologies can be utilized jointly to directly characterize the composition of hydrocarbons vertically through the prospect section.

20 January, 2012 20 January, 2012 1482
20 January 2012

The Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas is one of the more exciting shale plays in the United States at the current time.

24 October, 2013 24 October, 2013 1499
24 October 2013

This e-symposium will be introducing signal processing techniques as a means to maximize extracting geomechanical data from petrophysical logs.

19 May, 2011 19 May, 2011 1474
19 May 2011

This e-symposium presents and discusses the results of laboratory tests and research relating to determining shale prospectivity in general, and specifically in the Black Warrior Basin, Alabama.

28 April, 2011 28 April, 2011 1471
28 April 2011

The Niobrara Petroleum System of the U.S. Rocky Mountain Region is a major tight petroleum resource play.

17 March, 2011 17 March, 2011 1470
17 March 2011

This e-symposium will provide information on which tools, processes, and procedures all geoscientists, engineers, and technical professionals working in shale plays need to understand and implement.

14 December, 2010 14 December, 2010 1467
14 December 2010

Recent interest in unconventional gas resources has attracted several oil and gas explorers to sedimentary basins in Southern Quebec.

09 December, 2010 09 December, 2010 1466
9 December 2010

The Mississippian-Devonian Bakken Petroleum System of the Williston Basin is characterized by low-porosity and permeability reservoirs, organic-rich source rocks, and regional hydrocarbon charge.

09 September, 2010 09 September, 2010 1463
9 September 2010

The presentation will focus on hydraulic fracture geometry in shales, the materials used in the fracturing process, and treatment monitoring via microseismic.

22 July, 2010 22 July, 2010 1461
22 July 2010

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to describe geomechanics in shale reservoirs and discuss differences between plays.

03 June, 2010 03 June, 2010 1460
3 June 2010

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to describe faults and fractures in carbonates, black shales, and coarser clastics as they occur in the northern Appalachian Basin.

25 March, 2010 25 March, 2010 1458
25 March 2010

The presentation describes a well established fracture modeling workflow that uses a standard 3D seismic, conventional logs, image logs and data from one core to build predictive 3D fracture models that are validated with blind wells.

29 October, 2009 29 October, 2009 1445
29 October 2009

Expanded package for CEU credit is $100 for AAPG members, and $145 for non-members. Special Student Pricing: $25 for Webinar only; $35 for Expanded package.

20 August, 2009 20 August, 2009 1444
20 August 2009

This e-symposium covers advances in geothermal energy, integration with petroleum operations, and lessons learned in recent cases.

21 May, 2009 21 May, 2009 1443
21 May 2009

This e-symposium introduces you to the practical benefits of thermal profiling for a variety of unconventional oil and gas projects, including tight gas sands, oil shale, low-gravity oil.

23 July, 2009 23 July, 2009 1437
23 July 2009

As commodity prices have dropped, many shale plays have become uneconomical as statistical plays and have increasingly become recognized as geological plays demanding new insights from data.

16 August, 2011 16 August, 2011 1436
16 August 2011

The geochemistry of formation fluids (water and hydrocarbon gases) in the Uinta Basin, Utah, is evaluated at the regional scale based on fluid sampling and compilation of past records.

01 January, 2013 01 January, 9999 1473
1 January 2013 - 1 January 9999

Unconventional Resources is an online course that enables participants to learn about shale gas, shale oil and coalbed methane.

01 January, 2013 01 January, 9999 1472
1 January 2013 - 1 January 9999

This course introduces the learner to the fundamentals of shale gas, including current theories that explain its origin, and how to determine which reservoirs are commercially viable.

14 February, 3000 14 February, 3000 7817
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