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The Columbus basin, on the eastern shelf of Trinidad, lies at the eastern extremity of a belt of severe deformation along the northern boundary of South America that has been affected by compressional and wrench tectonics in the Pliocene-Pleistocene. Two major structural trends are present in the Columbus basin: a series of ENE-trending anticlines and NNW-oriented normal faults. The basin was filled during the late Miocene to Holocene with sediments deposited by an ancestral Orinoco River draining a hinterland to the southwest. The Pliocene-Pleistocene section, which contains the hydrocarbon accumulations in the Columbus basin, was laid down in three coarsening-upward sedimentary sequences followed by a late Pleistocene transgressive sequence.
Traps for hydrocarbon accumulation were formed by an easterly trending Pliocene-Pleistocene wrench system with associated ENE-oriented anticlines combined with NNW-oriented normal faults. Oil was sourced in the late Miocene lower Cruse Formation, whereas gas was derived both from Pliocene-Pleistocene pro-delta shales and as a late high temperature phase of lower Cruse hydrocarbon generation. The NNW faults formed migration conduits from the oil source rock to Pliocene-Pleistocene reservoirs. The temporal relationship of faulting to oil generation is a major factor affecting the distribution of oil and gas. The size of hydrocarbon accumulations is limited to some extent by a lack of an effective hydrocarbon seal, particularly in the western half of the basin.
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