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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

GCAGS Transactions


Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions Vol. 58 (2008), Pages 759-769

The Double Edged Sword: The Impact of the Interaction between Salt and Sediment on Subsalt Exploration Risk in Deep Water

Selim Shaker

11221 Gladewick Dr., Houston, Texas 77077


The high rewards of finding hydrocarbons in subsalt plays in the deepwater minibasins and frontier salt toe belts make them very attractive target for exploration endeavors. However, complex subsurface geopressure can cause hydrocarbon breaches and recurrent drilling challenges that drastically increase the operation costs.

Lithology and maximum principal stress essentially control the subsurface geopressure profile development. Salt's low density is responsible for retarding the overburden gradient below the salt and, conversely, enhancing it above the salt. The salt's ductile nature substantially dictates the path and magnitude of the subsurface stress cage. Consequently, it impacts the integrity of the sealing caps and hydrocarbon's retention capacity.

Newly developed supra- and subsalt geopressure models were established based on several fields and dry holes data in the Gulf of Mexico. In each case history, these models substantiate the premise that the impact of interaction between salt and sediment is an essential part of risk assessment and post-drilling appraisal.

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