The Gulf of Mexico is a rich hydrocarbon province that contains a diversity of petroleum systems play types. Often, identifying drilling targets can be challenging when solely using surface seismic data, particularly in areas with complex salt structures in the overburden. In this paper, we present a vertical seismic profile (VSP) modeling and acquisition case study for an oil field located in a subsalt, deepwater, ultrahigh-pressure high-temperature environment. Our objective was to model the subsurface to guide the acquisition of VSP data during the early phases of exploration and appraisal drilling. In the first exploration well, a salt-proximity VSP designed in a walkaway configuration was carried out to help better define the geometry of a salt overhang and verify anisotropy parameters, helping to reduce a critical uncertainty for imaging the subsalt structure across a large segment within our field area. In the first appraisal well, a zero-offset VSP was collected to establish a direct well tie and further calibrate our velocity model. In the second appraisal well, we utilized walkaway VSP data to form a high-frequency stratigraphic image between the two appraisal wellbores. These data were used to generate an enhanced image of the reservoir section that revealed subtle stratigraphic boundaries, another key subsurface uncertainty. Finally, we modeled both ambitious and conservative 3D VSP acquisition designs to understand the imaging area achieved through a 3D acquisition and undertook an assessment to understand the impact of PP and PS imaging for reservoir characterization. We conclude that VSP data are valuable tools in the early phases of field appraisal and development, and we demonstrate the business value of VSPs to optimize development drilling locations in our study area.

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