Reservoir compartmentalization can seriously compromise a project’s economics if left undetected during appraisal. Its early identification is made more likely if maximum use is made of available fluid appraisal data. This involves making a critical comparison of time-scales for various fluid properties to equilibrate compared with the actual time since those properties were initially disturbed. Spatially varying fluid properties indicate compartmentalization if they have existed for longer than the time needed for them to equilibrate.
Here we use data from appraisal wells and reservoir mixing time-scales to investigate vertical and horizontal compartmentalization in the Horn Mountain Field (Gulf of Mexico) and to quantify the properties of the baffles/barriers identified. We compare our results with earlier work using time-lapse geochemistry and mud gas isotope logging. Present fluid compositional variations in the field are shown not to be diagnostic of horizontal compartmentalization as the mixing time-scales by molecular diffusion are longer than the time since the reservoir filled. In contrast, pressure shifts and density differences are diagnostic. They indicate that faults within the Horn Mountain Field are relatively impermeable and would act as barriers during oil production. They also confirm that a shale-filled channel acts as a barrier to vertical flow.