Petroleum Systems of Deepwater Settings

Paul Weimer

This course provides geophysicists with a broad overview of the petroleum systems of deep-water settings.

The course design allows geophysicists to quickly integrate the information into their daily workflow. Lectures are complemented by exercises, and extensive references to key publications that geophysicists may use to follow up. This course emphasizes the geologic aspects of deepwater settings.


Two days

Intended Audience

Entry level

Prerequisites (Knowledge/Experience/Education required)

Participants should have basic knowledge of sedimentary and structural geology. Useful for geophysicists, geologists, petrophysicists, and engineers.

Course Outline

The course starts with an overview of the geology of deepwater systems – past, present and future. This review will cover the recent trends in deepwater in terms of drilling results, and introduce the elements of petroleum systems – reservoirs, traps, seals, source rock, migration, and timing.

Participants are introduced to the basic occurrences of turbidite systems within a sequence stratigraphic framework. Examples show how to modify the basic model for each kind of basin setting (structural setting, faults, and salt), high frequency sequences, sediment delivery systems, and the effects of grain sizes on turbidite systems. Carbonate and lacustrine systems are also discussed.

The key characteristics of the key reservoir elements in turbidite systems are:

  1. Sheet sands (layered and amalgamated)
  2. Channel fill
  3. Thin beds (overbank)
  4. Slides and debris flows

The seismic stratigraphic expression of these systems is present in 2D, shallow 3D, and depth 3D, and integrated with the wireline log expression and information from outcrops, cores, image logs, and biostratigraphy. Examples from several producing basins around the world illustrate these points. The production history and the reservoir challenges in developing each of these fields is discussed.

Deepwater systems produce in many different kinds of sedimentary basins. A review of these basins shows the different tectonic settings and associated structural styles (traps in mobile substrate versus non-mobile substrates). The review also demonstrates that most reservoirs are combined traps with a strong stratigraphic component. A review of seals, source rocks and modeling principles gives the geophysicist practical techniques for understanding deepwater systems.

The course concludes with a summary of what is important in the exploration for and development of deepwater systems. The application of these techniques to each geophysicist’s current projects is key, as is the difference between frontier exploration and exploration in mature basins with deeper potential. Examples from three or four basins distributed globally illustrate the principles. These examples will also demonstrate that there is deepwater potential in most basins globally.

Learner Outcomes

  • Define the sequence stratigraphic framework for deepwater settings
  • Recognize and distinguish between the four kinds of depositional elements and reservoirs  in deepwater on seismic profiles, wireline logs, and their distribution in an overall depositional setting
  • Recognize different trap styles in deepwater in different tectonic settings
  • Integrate the six elements of the petroleum systems in deepwater to evaluate their relative significance and contribution to the successful exploration in deepwater settings

Instructor Biography

Paul Weimer