The East Coast Marine Area (ECMA) of Trinidad and Tobago contains producing gas fields where the imaging of seismic data is known to be challenging. This difficulty has been attributed to the combination of the Dolphin Main Fault, with more than 1 km of throw and large velocity contrasts of up to 30% in magnitude across it, and shallow gas and gas clouds causing very high attenuation. These factors lead to difficulties producing reliable and consistent velocity models. Previous velocity models — generated using traveltime tomography — contained inaccuracies that led to poor imaging and structural positioning, resulting in uncertainty when planning exploration and development drilling programs. In an attempt to reduce these uncertainties, a full-waveform inversion (FWI) feasibility study was performed over the most problematic area, with an initial velocity model built from a combination of legacy prestack time and depth migration velocity models and additional first-break refraction tomography. The geologic complexity near the main fault and the associated poor seismic data quality meant this model gave a poor fit between the synthetic and observed data (from a cycle-skipping point of view) at the lowest usable frequency. This led to the idea of applying a diving-wave-driven, offset-stripping workflow across each frequency band in the FWI, going from 3.5 Hz to 7.5 Hz. After successful application on the test area, the workflow was applied to ∼1400 km2 of 3D seismic over the ECMA. The final velocity model is structurally consistent and highly resolved, containing detailed shallow geologic features such as mud volcanoes, well-defined faults, and potential gas anomalies that were not visible on the legacy tomographic model. A blind test of well-pressure data correlates strongly with velocity drops in the FWI model, showing that FWI models can potentially provide very good input to regional pore-pressure-prediction studies.

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