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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 80 (1996)

Issue: 2. (February)

First Page: 139

Last Page: 155

Title: Depositional Controls on Reservoir Properties in a Braid-Delta Sandstone, Tirrawarra Oil Field, South Australia

Author(s): H. Scott Hamlin (2), Shirley P. Dutton (2), Robert J. Seggie (3), Noel Tyler (2)


The Tirrawarra Sandstone contains 146 million bbl of oil in Tirrawarra field in the Cooper basin of South Australia. We used core, well logs, and petrophysical data to construct a depositional-facies-based flow-unit model of the reservoir, which describes rock properties and hydrocarbon saturations in three dimensions. Using the model to calculate volumes and residency of original and remaining oil in place, we identified an additional 36 million bbl of oil in place and improved understanding of past production patterns.

The Tirrawarra Sandstone reservoir was deposited in a Carboniferous-Permian proglacial intracratonic setting and is composed of lacustrine and fluvial facies assemblages. The stratigraphic framework of these nonmarine facies is defined by distinctive stacking patterns and erosional unconformities. Mudstone dominated zones that are analogous to marine maximum flooding surfaces bound the reservoir. At its base a progradational lacustrine-delta system, composed of lenticular mud-clast-rich sandstones enclosed in mudstone, is truncated by an unconformity. Sandstones in these lower deltaic facies lost most of their porosity by mechanical compaction of ductile grains. Above the unconformity a braid-delta system, dominated by aggradational bed-load channel-fill sandstones, forms the core of he reservoir. Sediment reworking by channel migration and locally by shore-zone processes created quartz-rich, multilateral sandstones, which retained the highest porosity and permeability of all the reservoir facies and contained most of the original oil in place. The braid delta is erosionally truncated and overlain by a more proximal braid-plain system. Braided-channel sandstones, however, are overlain by lenticular meandering-channel sandstones, which in turn grade upward into widespread mudstones and coals. Thus, this uppermost part of the reservoir displays a retrogradational stacking pattern and upward-decreasing reservoir quality.

On the basis of the systematic arrangement of facies within this stratigraphic framework, as well as facies-related differences in composition and texture, we identified reservoir flow units that have characteristic petrophysical properties. Our results demonstrate that depositional variables are the primary controls on reservoir quality and productivity in the Tirrawarra Sandstone.

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