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Several productive Paleogene deepwater sandstone reservoirs in the North Sea show evidence of having undergone post-depositional remobilization and clastic injection, which can result in major disruption of the primary reservoir distribution (e.g., Alba, Forth/Harding, Balder, and Gryphon fields). Case studies of deepwater sandstones from UK Quadrants 9, 15, 16 and 21 are presented to illustrate the wide spectrum of remobilization features, which range from centimeters (e.g., core-scale) to hundreds of meters (e.g., seismic-scale). Most common are clastic injection structures such as dikes and sills. Sills of massive sand, over 20 m thick, have been identified. Intrusions associated with the propagation of syn- to early post-depositional, dewatering-related polygonal fault systems in adjacent deepwater mudrocks are also common. The scale of the clastic intrusion and remobilization has significant impact on reservoir architecture and production performance, including changes in (a) original depositional geometries; (b) reservoir properties; (c) connectivity, (d) top reservoir surface structure, (e) reservoir volumetrics, and (f) recovery/performance predictions.

There are several prerequisites for sandstone intrusions to form: the source sediment must be uncemented, and the ‘parent’ sand body must be sealed such that an overpressure with a steep hydraulic gradient can be generated. The seal on the overpressured sand body must then be breached for the sand to fluidize and inject. The stress state within the basin, burial depth, fluid pressure and the nature of the sedimentary host rock all contribute to the final style, geometry and scale of intrusion. At shallow depths, within a few meters of the surface, small irregular intrusions are generated, more commonly forming sills, whereas at greater depth larger and more continuous dikes and sills form clastic intrusion networks. Field examples from the Ordovician in Ireland, and Panoche Hills in California are used to illustrate the control of burial depth/stress on intrusion scale.

Earthquake induced liquefaction, tectonics stresses and build-up of excess in-situ pore pressure are the most commonly cited explanations for the occurrence of clastic intrusions. However, our work suggests that the large-scale, ‘catastrophic’ sandstone intrusions within the North Sea Paleogene, which remobilized hundreds of cubic meters of sediment, probably require the presence of fluids migrating from deeper within the basin (e.g., gas charge) to drive the injection. Deepwater sand bodies within the North Sea that appear most susceptible to remobilization occur in mud-dominated successions and include (1) narrow, elongate channel or gully-filled sands (i.e., non-leveed channel systems), and (2) isolated sand-rich mounds (e.g., ‘ponded’ sand bodies and terminal fan lobes). Sand bodies located above rift-related basin-forming faults, which periodically appear to have acted as vertical fluid escape pathways, were especially susceptible to remobilization. Sand remobilization may influence reservoir distribution in other mud-dominated, deepwater depositional systems.

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