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Key Elements of the Ultra-Deepwater Magdalena Fan Potential Petroleum System, the Size of the Prize, and Why Frontier Exploration is Only for the Bold

SW Caribbean Virtual Symposium Presentation
AAPG Distinguished Lecture

Author: Brian Frost, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (Retired)

The Magdalena River feeds a world class deepwater fan with Miocene to Recent clastics greater than 10 kms thick and in water depths ranging from 2500-4000m. Offshore drilling to date has resulted in a giant dry gas field in shallow water and numerous other undeveloped gas discoveries between 600-2300m wd. A definitive source rock for the discoveries has not been defined and there is unresolved speculation whether the gas is a result of the primary biodegradation of recent organic material or the secondary biodegradation and migration from liquid petroleum. Shallow penetration piston coring has recovered some evidence of a liquids based petroleum system in the ultra-deepwater fan but no live oil samples have been recovered.

High quality regional 2D and mega 3D seismic surveys over the ultra-deepwater fan show extensive and stacked class 3/2p AVO anomalies throughout the area with structural/stratigraphic conformance connected by faulting to underlying pods up to 2 kms thick of class 4 AVO source rock anomalies. The potential DHI anomalies cover thousands of sq kms and stack 1000-1500m in gross thickness. Such a large accumulations of anomalies suggest a world class source rock is present similar in facies to the Cenomanian to Campanian age Lomo Chomico Fm that outcrops on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica and measured 85m of type 1/2 kerogen, 15% avg TOC, and HI 324-935.

The key geologic uncertainty is whether liquids are present and what is their API. The key economic uncertainty is can industry develop oil fields in waters >3200m deep. Frontier exploration requires making forecasts with only limited data meaning most of the time we get it wrong. It’s not a good path to follow for getting into the C-Suite but it is how we can find the next super basin.


Brian Russel Frost, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (Retired)

Brian frost earned a BSc in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in 1978. With a wide experience of 40 years in the industry, he currently is Distinguished Geophysical Advisor as retired from Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, responsible for worldwide new ventures, frontier exploration and finding the next “Mozambique”.

His previous experience includes Phillips Petroleum Corp: Rocky Mountains Exploration, Geophysical Processing, GOM, Indonesia, PRC, and Somalia Exploration, Latin America New Ventures. Conoco: Advance Exploration Organization, Deepwater Niger Delta and Trinidad, Texas Shelf and Atlanic Margins New Ventures. British Borneo: Deepwater GOM, Frontier Exploration, Mauritania. Anadarko: International New Ventures, Frontier Exploration, West and East Africa, Colombia, Peru. Brian is a member of HGS, AAPG, Geological Society of London and PESGB.

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