Petroleum Systems of Deepwater Settings
Understanding and predicting the petroleum systems of deepwater settings are some of the most challenging aspects of deepwater exploration and production. Unlike the case with other aspects of petroleum systems (e.g., reservoirs and traps), predictions of the systems′ source, seal, generation, timing, and migration are challenging, primarily because these parameters are the least constrained scientifically and must all be imaged from seismic and other data, petroleum seeps, or modeling. Petroleum-systems modeling is a topic of active research in many companies, yet few results have been published because of the proprietary nature of the material and the important competitive advantage afforded to the companies that conduct those studies. One significant challenge in petroleum-systems modeling is that every sedimentary basin is unique in the evolution of its petroleum systems. Subtle changes in source-rock richness and distribution, timing of structures, and/or different pressure regimes can contribute to vastly different prospectivity. In general, deep-water basins are unique compared with other petroleum basins because of (1) their recent generation and migration of petroleum (during the last 5–10 million years) and (2) the fact that all elements of their petroleum systems work together from the initial evolution of the basin and are inextricably linked (their reservoirs are deposited with growing structures, etc.).
The first two elements of petroleum systems—reservoirs and traps—are described in Chapters 4 through 8 and Chapter 9, respectively. In this chapter, we address, in an extremely abbreviated manner, the four remaining aspects of petroleum systems in deep-water