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AAPG Bulletin


(Begin page 399)

AAPG Bulletin, V. 86, No. 3 (March 2002), P. 399-416.

Copyright ©2002. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Exploration at the eastern edge of the Precaspian basin: Impact of data integration on Upper Permian and Triassic prospectivity

Jean-Pierre Barde,1 Peter Gralla,2 Josef Harwijanto,3 Juergen Marsky4

1Shell Temir Petroleum Development B.V., Volmerlaan 8, 2280 AB Rijswijk, Netherlands; current address: EGID, Universite de Bordeaux 3, 1 Allee Daguin, 33607 Pessac Cedex, France; email: [email protected]
2Veba Oil & Gas, Exploration Department, Essen, Germany; current address: Maersk Olie og Gas, 50 Esplanaden, DK-1263 Copenhagen, Denmark; email: [email protected]
3Shell Temir Petroleum development B.V., Volmerlaan 8, 2280 AB Rijswijk, Netherlands; current address: Shell International Exploration & Production, Volmerlaan 8, Postbus 60, 2280 AB Rijswijk, Netherlands; email: [email protected]
4Veba Oil & Gas GmbH, Dorotheenstrasse 1, 45130 Essen, Germany; current address: Preussag Energie GmbH, TES Exploration Geophysics, P.O. Box 1360, 49803 Lingen, Germany; email: [email protected]


Jean-Pierre Barde obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Bordeaux 3 (Institut de Geodynamique, France) in 1979. He joined Shell International in 1981 and had several assignments with Exploration and Production groups in Oman, Libya, Gabon, the Netherlands, and Kazakhstan. He is currently an associate professor at the University of Bordeaux 3 (Institut EGID).

Peter Gralla received his Ph.D. from the University of Braunschweig, Germany. From 1982 until 1989, he worked for the Exploration and Production Department of Preussag AG, focussing on the Rotliegend play in northern Germany. In 1991, he joined the exploration department of Veba Oil & Gas. In 1998, he became the chief geologist for Kazakhstan, focusing on continental clastic sediments and salt tectonics.

Josef Harwijanto received his B.S. degree at the University of Gadjah Mada (Yogyakarta, Indonesia) and his M.S. degree at the Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) in 1985. He joined Shell Companies in Indonesia and spent two years working on Kazakhstan. He is currently geophysicist with Shell International Exploration and Production B.V., Technology, Application & Research in Rijswijk, Netherlands.

Juergen Marsky obtained an M.Sc. degree in geology from the University of Braunschweig in 1982. He started working with Prakla-Seismos/Schlumberger before joining Veba Oil & Gas, where he was chief geophysicist of the Kazakhstan branch. He is currently focusing on seismic interpretation in different salt basins of the world. He is presently senior exploration geophysicist with Preussag Energie GmbH, Germany.


This article is a summary of some of the work carried out by Shell Temir Petroleum Development B.V. in cooperation with Veba Oil & Gas. All the members of the Shell Temir and Veba Oil & Gas Kasachstan subsurface evaluation teams contributed to the study, including A. Boertje, P. Chamberlain, P. Featherstone, A. Ibragimov, W. Monninger, C. van Oosterhout, J. Park, T. Schroeter, R. Smith, R. Sommerville, and A. Vreeken. Contributions by John Owens, who provided expertise in satellite imagery, and Hans Klein Breteler, for drafting support, are greatly appreciated. We are grateful to GETECH (Geophysical Exploration Technology, of Leeds University), who gave permission to display the gravity images. We extend special thanks to C. Bukovics and K. S. Miller who facilitated the publication of this work. This article benefited from the critical and constructive review of editors Steven Schamel, John L. Smale, Krys Swiryczuk, and Joseph W. Versfelt. Finally, we would like to thank Shell Temir Petroleum Development B.V. and Veba Oil & Gas Kasachstan GmbH for authorizing publication of these data.


The Temir license area of western Kazakhstan lies at the eastern edge of the Precaspian salt basin, a prolific emerging basin of the former Soviet Union. The recent exploration phase resulted in the discovery of an oil field that shed a new light on postsalt (Triassic and Upper Permian) hydrocarbon plays.

Geologically, the area is dominated by salt tectonics. Typical salt-related structures are the site of potential hydrocarbon accumulations charged from presalt source rocks. These structures were evaluated using conventional data sources such as gravity, wells, and seismic lines. New information was gained from the combination of topography, seismic data, and satellite imagery: (1) the relationship between surface morphology and underlying structure, (2) comparison between faulting and seepage information, and (3) an understanding of salt withdrawal history.

The best reservoirs are Triassic and Tatarian continental sandstones. Older Kazanian sandstones, a mixed evaporite-clastics succession, show very poor reservoir parameters. The integration of well results (cores, wire-line logs), outcrop information, and seismic data indicates (1) seismic facies studies are not sufficient to discriminate between Tatarian (reservoir-rich) and Kazanian (reservoir-poor) sequences because both successions commonly exhibit comparable seismic characters; (2) evaluation of reservoir potential based on the analysis of stacking velocities can be erroneous, particularly in narrow salt withdrawal minibasins and on seismic lines close to salt structures; and (3) reservoir prediction in the Tatarian and Kazanian successions can be estimated based on the analysis of prestack depth migration (PSDM) velocity models on conventional two-dimensional seismic lines. For example, fast PSDM velocity value ranges derived from the model correspond mostly to Kazanian mixed clastics-evaporite sequences that have poor reservoirs. (Begin page 400) Slower velocities, however, indicate sections that have better quality reservoirs. Thus, we recommend using PSDM velocity analysis coupled with core calibrations to predict reservoir potential and quantify porosity values in complex salt-related prospects such as salt overhangs and salt flank traps.

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