In recent years, marine controlled-source electromagnetic (CSEM) surveying has become an effective supplemental interpretation tool to the seismic reflection method to help mitigate risk in an offshore exploration setting. Interpretation of marine CSEM data is commonly achieved via finite-difference inversions on rectilinear meshes, which has its merits, but the results are typically of very low resolution. The alternative is forward modeling, which requires a model to be known a priori, but the detail of the model can be created to reflect realistic geologic conditions. What is typically seen in the literature are applications of EM forward modeling codes to synthetic, and sometimes complex synthetic, models. However, what the literature is missing is an application that overcomes the challenges of applying a 3D forward modeling method to real models constructed from real information. We have developed an application of a 3D marine CSEM finite-element forward modeling method to the Bay du Nord prospect in the Flemish Pass Basin offshore Newfoundland. The 3D resistivity model, composed of four topographical layers and the Bay du Nord reservoir body, was built using 2D seismic data, one well log, and a marine CSEM inversion. Although other mesh representations have their merits, we chose to discretize our 3D model into an unstructured tetrahedral mesh because its flexibility enabled the accurate representation of complex structures while minimizing the number of unknowns. The availability of measured marine CSEM data allowed for the resistivities of each layer in the 3D model to be refined, and it also allowed for the simulated data to be assessed in the context of the real noise levels. A subsequent sensitivity analysis of the forward modeling results provided insights regarding the detectability of the Bay du Nord reservoir.

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