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The oil industry, like the historian, glorifies the pioneer exploring glamorous new frontiers. A new exploratory look at old or mature producing provinces may be equally challenging and even more rewarding. A successful search needs the same optimism, resourcefulness, and skill, and even more tenacity than required to conquer virgin basins.
Obvious advantages of mature producing provinces are commonly overlooked. Mature provinces supply explorationists sufficient data to truly delineate significant causal geologic relations of oil production. Available data allow an intelligent focus of meaningful exploration effort. Ready markets furnish immediate return from oil and gas discoveries that would be uneconomic in new frontiers.
Numerous facets of old provinces merit new looks. Units a few hundred feet below commonly accepted pay zones are as unexplored as many new frontiers. Multitudinous subsurface controls, and even potentially productive wells, which were abandoned as dry holes, may provide evidence for the presence of prolific shallower zones. Careful analysis of productive trends can indicate major new projections. Extending old trends can be especially rewarding if they were terminated at well-known geographic boundaries, such as rivers, county, and province or state lines. Reanalysis may reveal near-similar parallel trends or similar unexplored geologic environments. Subsurface data from structural
provinces may delineate more lucrative stratigraphic accumulations. Major unconformities can mask lucrative undiscovered structural or stratigraphic trends. Uneconomic fields often stand for years as lonely signposts indicating major new trends.
New looks at old provinces must shun prejudice as though it were the plague. Not only must one surmount entrenched management or client prejudice but, more important, those prejudices residing in one's own mind. All basic data must be reanalyzed to eliminate half-truths and ferret out new clues buried in voluminous data. Computer techniques facilitate handling the voluminous data of mature provinces, but should never replace an inquisitive geologic mind. Subsurface data should be integrated with the available but oft-ignored surface geology. Modern, stacked, seismic data, when integrated with up-to-date geologic models, prove many established concepts fallacious and indicate new concepts. Maps should integrate all available geophysical as well as geologic data. All geologic exhibits, ven work maps, should show production causally related to the parameters portrayed. Regional maps should include related productive areas wherever possible.
Illustrations from various areas prove that the above techniques reward the explorationist who takes a new look at old provinces.
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