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Abstract

An understanding of trap and fault seal quality is critical for assessing hydrocarbon prospectivity. To achieve this, modern analytical techniques leverage well data and conventional industry-standard 3D seismic data to evaluate the trap, and any faults displacing the reservoir and top seal intervals. Above all, geological interpretation provides the framework of trap and fault seal analyses, but can be hindered by the data resolution, quality and acquisition style of the conventional seismic data. Furthermore, limiting the analysis to only the petroleum system at depth may lead to erroneous perceptions because interpreting overburden features, such as shallow faults or gas chimneys, can provide valuable observations with respect to container performance, and can to help validate trap and fault seal predictions. A supplement to conventional 3D data are high-resolution 3D seismic (HR3D) data, which provide detailed images of the overburden geology. This study utilizes an HR3D seismic volume in the San Luis Pass area of the Texas inner shelf, where shallow fault tips and a sizeable gas chimney are interpreted over an unsuccessful hydrocarbon prospect. Static post-drill fault seal and trap analyses suggest that the primary fault displacing the structural closure could have withheld columns of gas c. 100 m high, but disagree with our HR3D seismic interpretations and dry-well analyses. From our results, we hypothesize that tertiary gas migration through fault conduits reduced the hydrocarbon column in the prospective Early Miocene reservoir, and may have resulted from continued movement along the intersecting faults. Overall, this study reinforces the importance of understanding the overburden geology and geohistory of faulted prospects, and demonstrates the utility of pre-drill HR3D acquisition when conducting trap and fault seal analyses.

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