Effective exploration, appraisal, and development of deep-water reservoirs require systematic mapping, description, and characterization of the depositional systems that host them. Success in these areas requires that there is a firm understanding of hydrocarbon volumes and uncertainties, facies distributions to locate exploration and appraisal wells, and a framework to build reservoir models. We present a practical seismic interpretation workflow methodology that will be applicable in most cases and with most seismic data sets. The workflows are for channels, sheets, and mass transport deposits (MTDs). Each step of the workflow is illustrated with subsurface and/or outcrop examples. The channel workflow guides the interpreter through identification of three hierarchical levels of channel architecture and the recognition of six key seismic facies: channel axis, channel margin, basal lags, slumps, thin-bedded facies (internal levees and terraces), and external levees. The sheet sandstone workflow emphasizes a series of steps including understanding the regional and local context, understanding the evolution of seafloor topography at basinal and depositional scales, and generating detailed amplitude maps. Mass transport complexes are rarely reservoirs but can have a major impact on reservoir distribution. The workflow encourages inquiries into these impacts, which include potential erosion of underlying reservoirs, ponding on and around the MTD, diversion and deflection of subsequent reservoir-hosting depositional systems, and their potential as sealing facies. The workflows are designed to be efficient and practical and will provide an appropriate characterization encompassing exploration and appraisal to early development phases.

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