Touchstone Exploration is the operator of the 184 sq km Ortoire Block onshore south eastern Trinidad. The block spans from the villages of Tableland in the west to Pierreville Mayaro in the east and to the very remote areas within the Guayaguayare forest to the south. Structurally the block covers the greater part of the open east facing Ortoire Syncline, which entails Late Miocene Lower Cruse to Pleistocene Mayaro Fm deltaic fill. These passive fordeep infill deposits sit conformably onto a south easterly verging Early to Middle Miocene fold belt. As such throughout the breadth of the Ortoire Block there are numerous tear fault dissected WSW to ENE trending anticlines. These anticlines were the result of the oblique collision between the highly attenuated northern margin of the South America continental plate with the leading edge of the apparent easterly migrating oceanic Caribbean Plate culminating in the Middle Miocene.
Historical exploration within the area, dominantly within the 1950’s, by United British Oilfields of Trinidad (UBOT) and Shell, had been primarily focused on Middle Miocene Herrera amalgamated channelized slope to base of slope deepwater turbidites of the Cipero Formation and Late Miocene Lower Cruse base of slope sheet like turbidite fans. Considered shallow water deposits at the time of exploration, the results of many of those wells were considered disappointing or uncommercial. Operators noted strong indicators of natural gas in many wells, but considered its presence a nuisance. Without infrastructure for the processing and marketing of gas, and no local demand, gas rich wells were considered dry holes.
Subsurface mapping on the Talisman 3D seismic survey, Cometra 3D seismic survey and numerous Southern Basin Consortium 2D seismic lines, integrated with surface geology, regional well data, and fold and thrust belt models have revealed numerous potential Middle Miocene Herrera plays within the block. To name a few, from north to south, Touchstone Exploration has identified an eastern extension of the prolific highly imbricated Penal Barrackpore oilfield in the Cascadura area, a subthrust north verging anticline at Coho, a south easterly verging subthrust anticline at Royston and an eastern extension of the Carapal Ridge north verging subthrust anticline at Chinook. At COHO-1, CAS-1 ST1, and CAS DEEP-1 initial tests and extended tests have been completed and commercial discovery notifications have been submitted to the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries.
Touchstone will spud its fifth exploration well, ROYSTON-1 in Q2 targeting the largest anticlinal structure on the block to date, with a potential upside of 2 Tcf.
Xavier Moonan is a senior geoscientist at Touchstone Exploration in Trinidad & Tobago. He has an MSc. in Structural Geology with Geophysics at the University of Leeds, UK, and was awarded a “Top Ten Presentation” by AAPG for his presentation on the Penal Barrackpore Anticline at the AAPG ICE Conference in Milan (2011). He served as the Convener for the 20th Caribbean Geological Conference Trinidad (2015), as Programme Committee Trinidad Representative for the AAPG ICE Cartagena (2013), and as general co-chair for AAPG GTW Trinidad (2014), GTW Guyana (2017), and GTW Suriname (2019), and as technical program chair of the AAPG South East Caribbean Virtual Research Symposium in 2020. In 2021, Xavier was awarded the Grover E. Murray Memorial Distinguished Educator Award from the AAPG. Xavier is currently the Vice President of the AAPG Latin America & Caribbean Region and a member of the Geological Society of Trinidad & Tobago, the Houston Geological Society, Geological Society of America, and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Xavier lectures a range of geology courses at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, the University of Trinidad & Tobago and runs field geology trips for many visiting groups including Anton De Kom University of Suriname, Dalhousie University, and University of Toronto