Basin analog approach answers characterization challenges of unconventional gas potential in frontier basins



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Texas A&M University


To continue increasing the energy supply to meet global demand in the coming decades, the energy industry needs creative thinking that leads to the development of new energy sources. Unconventional gas resources, especially those in frontier basins, will play an important role in fulfilling future world energy needs. We must identify and quantify potential unconventional gas resources in basins around the world to plan for their development. Basin analog assessment is one technique that can be used to identify and quantify unconventional gas resources that is less expensive and less time consuming. We have developed a basin analog methodology that is useful for rapidly and consistently evaluating the unconventional hydrocarbon resource potential in exploratory basins. We developed software, Basin Analog System (BAS), to perform and accelerate the process of identifying analog basins. Also, we built a database that includes geologic and petroleum systems information of intensely studied North America basins that contain well characterized conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources. We have selected 25 basins in North America that have a history of producing unconventional gas resources. These are ??????reference?????? basins that are used to predict resources in frontier or exploratory basins. The software assists us in ranking reference basins that are most analogous to the target basin for the primary purpose of evaluating the potential unconventional resources in the target basin. The methodology allows us to numerically rank all the reference basins relative to the target basin. The accuracy of the results depends on the descriptions of geologic and petroleum systems. We validated the software to make sure it is functioning correctly and to test the validity of the process and the database. Finding a reference basin that is analogous to a frontier basin can provide insights into potential unconventional gas resources of the frontier basin. Our method will help industry predict the unconventional hydrocarbon resource potential of frontier basins, guide exploration strategy, infer reservoir characteristics, and make preliminary decisions concerning the best engineering practices as wells are drilled, completed, stimulated and produced.