Abstract

Bright-spot amplitude anomalies have been an attractive exploration target in the Niger Delta since the early 1970s, and the bright-spot play can now be considered mature. There is a need to extend the bright-spot exploration success to include other types of direct hydrocarbon indicators such as dim spots or polarity reversals. Several true dim spots have been identified in the basin, calibrated with well data and characterized in detail to enable a systematic analysis of the geologic factors that produce the dim-spot response. Dim spots in deeper stratigraphic intervals reflect a high degree of compaction and quartz cementation and are characterized by minimal fluid signal and commonly very low detectability. Robust and detectable dim spots have been identified in shallow marine/deltaic systems in the Niger Delta in shallower stratigraphic intervals with a relatively strong fluid signal. The key factor promoting a robust dim-spot response is the presence of acoustically soft, clay-rich shales as the bounding lithology. The variability of the bounding shales in the Niger Delta is stratigraphically constrained and, to some degree, predictable. The change from hard mudstones to soft claystones, which can be recognized in seismic data, may result in a transition from bright to dim spots, possibly taking place within the same stratigraphic interval and over short distances. Many clastic basins globally follow a similar stratigraphic and diagenetic evolution; thus, the Niger Delta example may be a good analog for dim-spot plays elsewhere.

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