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Petroleum systems of the northern Gulf of Mexico: Phase IV

Phase IV of our ongoing Gulf of Mexico research consortia focuses on the petroleum systems of the Florida Escarpment area in the eastern GOM. About 10,000 km of PSDM (pre-stacked depth migrated) 2-D seismic data set acquired in 2005 are being interpreted by three MS students (Kris Schwendeman, Mike Leibovitz, Ben Herber). Eight companies are supporting this private consortium. The project started in May 2008 and will extend to fall 2009.

The area consists of three general plays/areas.

(1) An extensive carbonate platform is present to the east that evolved from Early Cretaceous to the Present.

(2) The second province extends below the current Escarpment into the deep GOM, and consists of Middle Jurassic through Cretaceous strata. Both autochthonous and allochthonous salt are present below the top Cretaceous sequence boundary. Possible rift strata underlie the autochthonous salt system.

(3) The third area consists of the Cenozoic strata in the deep GOM that onlap onto and terminate against the Top Cretaceous sequence boundary along the Escarpment. Based on regional correlations from our previous research consortia, these deepwater sediments are primarily Miocene through the Present in age. These are the most distal deepwater sediments that were sourced from the offshore Louisiana area.

EMARC is focusing on establishing the stratigraphic and structural framework, performing 1D and 2 petroleum systems modeling, and doing a new resource evaluation of the area.

This project is of particular significance because this is one of the last frontier areas in deepwater in the US. Last summer, the area was removed from the OCS Lease Schedule until 2024. The PSDM data allows us to image this province in ways not possible with post-stack time seismic reflection data. Our reinterpretation of the geology of this area will help reassess its petroleum potential. Rick Sarg (Research Professor, CSM), and Tom Ahlbrandt (ex-USGS) will be advising on this project.