Due to complicated near-surface conditions, including large elevation changes and complex geologic structures, accurate imaging of subsurface structures for hydrocarbon exploration in the foreland basins of western China has been challenging for many years. After decades of research and fieldwork, we developed an effective seismic exploration workflow that uses the latest technologies from acquisition to imaging. They include 3D high-density and wide-azimuth (WAZ) acquisition, 3D true-surface tilted transverse isotropy (TTI) anisotropic prestack depth migration, and dual-detachment structural modeling and interpretation. To further reduce uncertainty in velocity model building and improve imaging quality, our geologists, geophysicists, and reservoir engineers worked closely through the exploration cycle (seismic acquisition, processing, and interpretation). This exploration model has been used successfully in hydrocarbon exploration of many complex foothill areas in western China. Three-dimensional WAZ high-density seismic surveys have been conducted over 40,000 km2 of the foreland basins, greatly improving the field seismic data quality. After application of 3D true-surface TTI anisotropic depth model building and imaging with integrated structural interpretation, new discoveries of hydrocarbon reservoirs have increased. The application of new technologies not only increased drilling success but also reduced depth well-tie errors between seismic data and wells.

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