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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 86, No. 11 (November 2002), P. 1891-1919.

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

Basin-centered gas systems

Ben E. Law1

1Pangea Hydrocarbon Exploration LLC, 12343 W. Louisiana Avenue, Lakewood, Colorado, 80228; email: [email protected]


Ben Law is a consultant and sole proprietor of Pangea Hydrocarbon Exploration LLC. His research interests include basin-centered gas and coalbed methane systems. Prior to his consulting position, he was a member and chief of the U.S. Geological Survey Western Tight Gas Sand Project and regional coordinator of South Asia for the U.S. Geological Survey World Energy Project. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees from San Diego State University, California.


I am grateful to my many U.S. Geological Survey and industry colleagues for their support over the years. I am especially indebted to Charles Spencer for his insights and collaboration on aspects of basin-centered gas systems (BCGSs). A large part of the research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under the very capable management of Karl Frohne and William Gwilliam. The work also benefited from periodic, constructive discussions and unpublished subsurface data provided by Bill Barrett, Bill Hanson, Greg Anderson, Doug Battin, Jeff Aldrich, John McIntyre, and John Gustavson. Finally, the reviews by Charles Spencer, Dale Leckie, and Bob Ryder significantly improved the manuscript.


Basin-centered gas systems (BCGSs) are potentially one of the more economically important unconventional gas systems in the world; in the United States they contribute as much as 15% of the total annual gas production. These regionally pervasive gas accumula tions are different from conventionally trapped accumulations in several respects. The basin-centered gas accumulations (BCGAs) associated with BCGSs are typically characterized by regionally pervasive accumulations that are gas saturated, abnormally pres sured, commonly lack a downdip water contact, and have low-permeability reservoirs. The accumulations range from single, isolated reservoirs a few feet thick to multiple, stacked reservoirs several thousand feet thick. Two types of BCGSs are recognized; a direct type, characterized by having gas-prone source rocks, and an indirect type, characterized by having liquid-prone source rocks. During the burial and thermal histories of these systems, the source rock differences between the two types of BCGSs result in strikingly different characteristics that impact exploration strategies. The majority of known BCGAs are the direct type. Exploration activity for BCGAs is in the early stages and thus far has been focused in North America. In other parts of the world, concepts of basin-centered gas systems are poorly known, and exploration activity focused on basin-centered gas accumulations is minimal.

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