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AAPG Bulletin


(Begin page 1731)

AAPG Bulletin, V. 85, No. 10 (October 2001), P. 1731-1757.

Copyright ©2001. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Architectural elements in a high-continuity sand-prone turbidite system, late Precambrian Kongsfjord Formation, northern Norway: Application to hydrocarbon reservoir characterization

N. J. Drinkwater,1 K. T. Pickering2

1Schlumberger Cambridge Research, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0El, United Kingdom; email: [email protected]
2Department of Geological Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom; email: [email protected]


N. J. Drinkwater has a B.Sc. (honors) degree in geology from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, (1990) and after completing a year's study for an M.Sc. in industrial mineralogy at Leicester University, United Kingdom (1991), went on to complete a Ph.D. in deep-marine sedimentology and reservoir architecture at University College, London, United Kingdom (1997). Drinkwater then joined Schlumberger-Doll Research as a research scientist in the Interpretation Sciences Department, investigating new reservoir modeling technologies. In 1999, he transferred to Schlumberger Cambridge Research where, as a senior research scientist, he is currently involved in research on deep-marine reservoir characterization and modeling with emphasis on the use and integration of outcrop analogs.

K. T. Pickering currently is professor of sedimentology and stratigraphy at University College, London. He graduated from the University of Bristol in 1976 and gained a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in 1979. He was a research demonstrator at Goldsmiths' College, University of London (1981-1985), followed by a lectureship then readership at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom (1985-1993). He has published more than 100 research papers, coauthored 5 books, and co-edited 5 books. His principal research interests are in deep-water processes and environments, tectonics and sedimentation (particularly at active-plate margins), and mudrock geochemistry. He also has interests in global environmental issues.


Quantifying the geometry of high-continuity (relatively unconfined) sand-prone systems in deep-water sedimentary environments is important both for a better understanding of the intrinsic nature of these systems (volumetrics, stacking patterns, etc.) and for the potential application of this data to modeling the depositional characteristics of such systems for basin analysis and reservoir modeling.

A quantitative methodology is presented for defining the geometry of architectural elements within sedimentary systems. This methodology is then applied to a detailed analysis of sand-rich, deep-water systems, with examples from the late Precambrian Kongsfjord Formation, Arctic Norway, and other published outcrop and subsurface data. The efficacy of the scheme is demonstrated by its ability to discriminate effectively between reservoir architectural elements of differing scales within environments (e.g., individual beds, packets of beds) and also between environments (e.g., abyssal plain, outer-fan lobe, and submarine channel deposits). This scheme permits a quantitative, more objective, means of comparing modern and ancient, including subsurface, depositional systems.

The methodology and analysis presented here provide important geometrical and geological information on architectural elements at the subseismic, typical interwell scale. The data produced by this methodology should prove useful for reservoir production and development techniques. This methodology also should have applicability in exploration, through its application to architectural elements at the fan and basin scale. In exploration and production (Begin page 1732) in deep-water clastic systems, the available data, which are commonly extremely expensive to collect, typically consist of seismic data (with high aerial but relatively poor vertical resolution) and generally few wells (with high vertical resolution but extremely low aerial resolution). Therefore, information derived from suitable outcrop analogs on the geometry of fan elements augments significantly the typically sparse available industry data from exploration and production.

In reservoir development and production, standard industry disciplines such as reservoir engineering and reservoir modeling (both deterministic and stochastic) should benefit from the approach taken in this article. This is because this article provides additional information on internal reservoir heterogeneity and architecture that is directly applicable to these disciplines. The application of standard geostatistical techniques to assess the spatial continuity of individual elements (such as variogram analysis) has the potential to further extend the results derived from this methodology and analysis.

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