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Basement rocks tend to have negligible primary (rock matrix) porosity and, where present, almost all porosity is fracture-related. An insight into fracture type and distribution is therefore of importance when attempting to predict potential flow zones in hydrocarbon reservoirs. In the absence of core, borehole images provide a proven means of characterizing fractures within basement rocks. This paper will concentrate upon the classification and characterization of basement structural elements, including fractures, faults and breccias, versus lithological elements, such as foliations and intrusion boundaries from borehole images. In addition, suggestions of how to differentiate present-day in-situ stress indicators from natural fractures will be made as these features may provide important information regarding open fracture set orientations. Examples of microresistivity and acoustic borehole images acquired in fractured igneous basement rocks from oil wells in Yemen will be presented together with a suggested methodology for their interpretation. The discussion will be based on hydrocarbon reservoirs; however, the methodology outlined can potentially have wider applications in, for example, groundwater pollution prevention schemes or groundwater extraction, radioactive waste disposal, geothermal energy resources and deep-drilling research programmes.

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