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The petroleum geology of the Mississippi Canyon, Atwater Valley, western DeSoto and western Lloyd Ridge protraction areas, offshore northern Gulf of Mexico, is controlled by the interaction of salt tectonics and high sedimentation rate during the Neogene, and has resulted resulting in a complex distribution of reservoirs and traps. Seventy-eight fields/discoveries are evaluated and comprise structures with four-way closures (18), three-way closures (46), and stratigraphic traps (14). Three of these discoveries are in Upper Jurassic eolian reservoirs, the remainder are in Neogene deep-water reservoirs.

The tectonic-stratigraphic evolution of the area is analyzed at eleven discrete intervals between 24 Ma and Present. The analyses show how the allochthonous salt systems evolved over time, and their effect on sedimentation patterns and sub-basin evolution.

The study area includes some of the largest fields in the northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Thunder Horse produces from an anticlinal (turtle) structure that developed with a basement-controlled allochthonous system. The greater Mars-Ursa sub-basin has nine fields with > 1.5 BBBOE EUR, including Mars, Ursa and Princess, that developed with a counterregional allochthonous salt system. The remaining fields have considerably smaller reserves, which are controlled by the area within closure and number of reservoir intervals. Many of the smaller fields are produced from one well subsea tiebacks.

Most of fields in the study area are contained within sheet-like or wedge-shaped stratigraphic intervals and have four-way or three-way trapping configurations. These findings reflect the profound effect that mobile salt has had on the petroleum geology of the region.

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