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Glen Buick - The Bauer Field

Discovery Thinking Forum, ICE 2015 Melbourne

Discovery Thinking Forum, ICE 2015 Melbourne


The Bauer Field: Case Study of a Low Relief, High Productivity Oil Field. Discovery Thinking talk given by Glen Buick at AAPG International Conference and Exhibition (ICE) in Melbourne, Australia on 14 September 2015.

This presentation provides a case study of the exploration, appraisal, and development of the Bauer Oil Field; its transformation from a small anticlinal prospect to what is now the largest Namur Sandstone oil pool on the western flank of the Patchawarra Trough in the Cooper Basin, South Australia. Low-relief anticlinal closures with oil pooled within the Namur Sandstone reservoir is the primary play on the western flank of the Patchawarra Trough. The Bauer prospect was first identified using 3D seismic data and mapped as an anticlinal closure with 9 metres of relief. The prospect was estimated to have a mean recoverable resource of 0.5 million barrels of oil prior to being drilled in 2011. The discovery well, however, intersected a 14-metre oil column, and as of January 2015 the field has 19 wells on production and an estimated ultimate recovery of 13 million barrels. Growth of recoverable resource estimates continued through appraisal and early development drilling, due to high-side structural results and better than expected reservoir performance. Drilling at Bauer has consistently demonstrated a ±5-metre depth uncertainty at the reservoir level. Critical drills to the north of Bauer-1 were higher than expected and extended the field, while wells to the south were lower, but increased mapped closure height. Variations of this magnitude have a dramatic impact on low-relief structures and can result in large uncertainties for recoverable resource estimates, field development planning, and commerciality. Static and dynamic modelling was undertaken during the early development phase, which focused studies toward characterisation of the Namur Sandstone reservoir. This work showed that understanding the subtle geological variations was key to obtaining a history-matched reservoir model. Model results were most sensitive to facies distribution, permeability, and kv to kh ratio. With a high-permeability reservoir combined with a strong aquifer displacing a low GOR, low-viscosity, and high API oil, a primary recovery of more than 75% is indicated. Well and core data obtained after the initial modelling studies confirm the primary parameters, with permeabilities of up to 13 Darcys recorded. The lessons learnt during the discovery and development of the Bauer Field may benefit the future exploration, appraisal, and development of low relief, high-productivity fields, and analogous prospects.

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