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Using Production-Based Plays in the Northern Gulf of Mexico as a Hydrocarbon Exploration Tool
G. L. Lore, E. C. Batchelder
The Minerals Management Service has described 72 production-based plays in the northern Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf encompassing approximately 1,100 fields and over 9,500 productive sands. Plays are defined by a combination of production, chronostratigraphy, lithostratigraphy, and structural style. Cumulative production from these plays as of December 1994 was 9.34 billion barrels of oil and 112.6 trillion cubic feet of gas, with remaining proved reserves of 2.52 billion barrels of oil and 29.3 trillion cubic feet of gas. The information associated with these plays can be used as exploration tools to highlight areas of potential exploration interest and to test the potential economic viability of both plays and individual prospects.
Qualitatively, the play maps target areas for future exploration by (1) identifying conceptual deep-sea fan plays located downdip from plays established in sediments of shallow water depositional environments and (2) emphasizing areas for both future exploration and infill potential around and within established plays.
The extensive data sets associated with each play provide valuable quantitative information that can be used to assess the possible number and size of undiscovered accumulations in a play. At the individual prospect level, data derived from play averages can be applied to each productive sand and pool to perform detailed geologic and economic evaluations.
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