Abstract

The present-day state of stress in Tertiary deltas is poorly understood but vital for a range of applications such as wellbore stability and fracture stimulation. The Tertiary Baram Delta province, Brunei, exhibits a range of contemporary stress values that reflect the competing influence of the northwest Borneo active margin (situated underneath the basin) and local stresses generated within the delta. Vertical stress (σv) gradients at 1500-m (4921-ft) depth range from 18.3 MPa/km (0.81 psi/ft) at the shelf edge to 24.3 MPa/km (1.07 psi/ft) in the hinterland, indicating a range in the shallow bulk density across the delta of 2.07–2.48 g/cm3. The maximum horizontal stress (σHmax) orientation rotates from margin parallel (northeast–southwest; deltaic) in the outer shelf to margin normal (northwest–southeast; basement associated) in the inner shelf. Minimum horizontal stress (σhmin) gradients in normally pressured sequences range from 13.8 to 17.0 MPa/km (0.61–0.75 psi/ft) with higher gradients observed in older parts of the basin. The variation in contemporary stress across the basin reveals a delta system that is inverting and self-cannibalizing as the delta system rapidly progrades across the margin. The present-day stress in the delta system has implications for a range of exploration and production issues affecting Brunei. Underbalanced wells are more stable if deviated toward the σhmin direction, whereas fracture stimulation in mature fields and tight reservoirs can be more easily conducted in wells deviated toward σHmax. Finally, faults near the shelf edge are optimally oriented for reactivation, and hence exploration targets in this region are at a high risk of fault seal breach.

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