From Traps to Damage

Foreland fold-thrust belts are important targets for hydrocarbon exploration and development. But they are also challenging. Structural complexity together with difficulties in seismic imaging makes for significant uncertainties in quantifying trap shape and size. Furthermore, development is complicated by smaller-scale damage – that include the fracture networks that host hydrocarbons in otherwise low permeability strata, but that can also serve to degrade and partition high porosity reservoirs. Structural damage can also increase risk of top-seal failure. There remain unrecognised uncertainties in all aspects of structural prediction and forecasting in fold-thrust belts. We aim to meet these challenges.

From an initial Pathfinder project and field workshop (in the French Subalpine chains) we have designed a new JIP with the aim to reduce structural risks when exploring and developing hydrocarbon resources in fold-thrust belts. We bring together a leading group of structural geologists and allied earth scientists based in the University of Aberdeen with partners in the oil and gas industry to address these deficiencies. There are three strands to the programme: original research; reviews of existing published research; and knowledge exchange with project partners. The new research addresses key challenges in the structural interpretation and analysis of fold-thrust belts. We explore and quantify the relationships between trap- and larger-scale structural evolution and the intra-, inter- reservoir structure, compartmentalisation and damage that can strongly influence reservoir performance. We also bring our expertise to review and highlight key existing and breaking research from the published world, keeping partners abreast of the best fold-thrust belt literature. We share our knowledge through partner workshops, reports and through one-to-one engagement as available. The project runs through distinct sponsorship phases with triennial renewal as required.

Contact us for more information on our JIP