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The Dirkala Field is located in the southern Murta block of Petroleum Exploration Licenses (PELs) 5 and 6 in the southern Cooper and Eromanga Basins of central Australia. Excellent oil production from a single reservoir sandstone in the Jurassic Birkhead Formation in Dirkala 1 had indicated a potentially larger resource than could be mapped volumetrically. The hypothesis that the resource was stratigraphically trapped led to the need to define the fluvial sand reservoir seismically and thereby prepare for future development.

A small (16 km2) 3-D seismic survey was acquired over the area in December 1992. The project was designed not only to evaluate the limits of the Birkhead sand but also to evaluate the cost efficiency of recording such small 3-D surveys in the basin.

Interpretation of the dataset integrated with seismic modeling and seismic attribute analysis delineated a thin Birkhead fluvial channel sand reservoir. Geological pay mapping matched volumetric estimates from production performance data. Structural mapping showed that Dirkala 1 was optimally placed and that no further development drilling was justifiable.

Seismic characteristics comparable with those of the Dirkala 1 Birkhead reservoir were noted in another area of the survey, beyond field limits. This led to the proposal to drill an exploration well, Dirkala South 1, which discovered a new oil pool in the Birkhead Formation. A post-well audit of the pre-drill modeling confirmed that the seismic response could be used to determine the presence of the Birkhead channel sand reservoir.

The acquisition of the Dirkala 3-D seismic survey demonstrated the feasibility of conducting small 3-D seismic surveys to identify subtle stratigraphically trapped Eromanga Basin reservoirs at lower cost and risk than appraisal/development drilling based on 2-D seismic data.

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