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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

GCAGS Transactions


Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions, 2011
Pages 245-256

Identifying New Exploration Fairways in the Gulf of Mexico: Deepwater Tuscaloosa/Woodbine Play

Brian W. Horn


For the past 20 years exploration in the Gulf of Mexico has changed focus from shelf environments to pursuing hydrocarbons in the deepwater slope and basin floor environments. This has led to testing older stratigraphic intervals in the basinward part of the depositional profile that are known for their producing trends across the onshore gulf coast. The most recent example of this trend is the exploration activity focused on the Lower Tertiary or Wilcox equivalent strata in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico during the past decade. These exploration plays are driven by an understanding of the updip fluvial/deltaic stratigraphic architecture and the potential for partitioning of reservoir-quality sandstones across the depositional shelf and into the slope and basin floor environments.

The Upper Cretaceous Tuscaloosa and Woodbine sandstones are reservoirs in several onshore fields with reserves in excess of 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent (e.g., Judge Digby, Port Hudson, and East Texas). Examination of the depositional patterns and stratigraphic geometries of these depositional systems indicates that, similar to the Lower Tertiary Wilcox trend, a significant Upper Cretaceous deepwater fan system is also present in the Gulf of Mexico. Two key elements that will impact the evaluation of this new play are the prediction of reservoir presence and reservoir quality. Analysis of onshore and deepwater well data and regional seismic correlations suggest this play may be as extensive and have better reservoir quality than the Wilcox deepwater deposits, making this the next major exploration play in the Gulf of Mexico.

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