Exploration and Appraisal Challenges in the Gulf of Mexico Deep-Water Wilcox: Part 1—Exploration Overview, Reservoir Quality, and Seismic Imaging
Published:December 01, 2007
Jennifer Lewis, Simon Clinch, Dave Meyer, Matt Richards, Christine Skirius, Ron Stokes, Larry Zarra, 2007. "Exploration and Appraisal Challenges in the Gulf of Mexico Deep-Water Wilcox: Part 1—Exploration Overview, Reservoir Quality, and Seismic Imaging", The Paleogene of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Basins: Processes, Events and Petroleum Systems, Lorcan Kennan, James Pindell, Norman C. Rosen
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The deep-water Wilcox trend covers more than 34,000 mi2, extending across the Alaminos Canyon, Keathley Canyon, and Walker Ridge protraction areas, plus parts of adjacent protraction areas and Mexican territorial waters. Discoveries are in turbidite sands that have been deposited in lower slope channels and ponded fans to regionally extensive basin floor fan systems. Primary trap styles are compressional Louann saltcored symmetrical box folds, symmetrical salt pillows, and asymmetrical salt cored thrust anticlines. More than 20 wildcat wells have been drilled in the Wilcox Trend. Recoverable reserves for each of the 12 announced discoveries range from 40 to 500 million barrels of oil (MMBO). Ultimately, the Wilcox trend has the potential for recovering 3 to 15 billion barrels of oil reserves (BBO) from these discoveries and additional untested structures. Many technical issues need to be resolved to move the billions of barrels of resources trapped in deep-water Wilcox structures to recoverable economic reserves. Exploration challenges include well depths up to 35,000 feet subsea, water depths ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 feet, and salt canopies from 7,000 to more than 20,000 feet thick. Allochthonous salt covers 90% of the trend, complicating regional reconstructions and resolution of individual structures. Appraisal challenges include: delineating and modeling reservoir quality, sand distribution, and flow capability; improving complex sub-salt images; and developing cost effective drilling, completion, facility, and infrastructure designs.