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Arabian Plate Oil and Gas

Habitat: Vertical Expansion


versus Gussow

Walter H. Pierce
and Everett Rutherford

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Objective
The objectives of this paper are to characterize oil and
gas distribution, to assess the relative importance of the
Gussow principle (Gussow, 1954) and gas expansion to
the distribution of gas versus oil, and to improve
understanding of the habitat of oil and gas on the
Arabian Plate.

Approach
This paper uses a novel system to quantify and map
post- Paleocene uplift and subsidence of reservoirs to
assess the impact of late uplift on gas and oil distribution
We use the tools of GIS to enable volume to volume
comparisons at reservoir elevation of gas versus oil. A
product of this work is a set of graphs which enable the
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
comparison and contrast of gas and oil distributions at
depth and elevation and in relation to post-Paleocene
uplift and subsidence. These graphs also enable the
comparison of gas and oil energy equivalents and
reservoir volume equivalents at the elevation and depth
of occurrence.

Our approach attempts to reach generalization by


combining all regional data into to a focused set of
graphs, and then interpreting those graphs.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Background

Our approach attempts to reach generalization by


combining all regional data into to a focused set of
graphs, and then interpreting those graphs.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Organization of Talk
• Objective and Problem
• Post Paleocene Uplift and Subsidence
– Measurement
– Stratigraphic Elevation Thickness plots
– Using GIS to associate measurements with fields
• Graphic Analysis
– Recalculation of Gas volume at depth
– Depth of Reservoir and Elevation of reservoir
• Observations on Distribution
– Shallow Gas - Deep Gas - Middle Oil
– Relationship to Neutral Post Paleocene uplift and subsidence
• Integration of Gussow and Gas Expansion into “Expanded Gussow”
– Addition of shallow to model
– Two paths to shallow explains confusion
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Zagro Gas versus Oil
Several years ago the senior author was studying maps
of the Zagros fields. An interesting relationship (Fig. 1)
began to be expressed, which suggested that late uplift
and erosion had impacted the distribution of oil and gas
in the zagros fields. That relationship became the
motivation for this paper. Since then the Zagros work has
be refined, and in order to reduce variables, fields that
are interpreted to have been source by Paleogene source
rock have been removed from the following cross plot
with bubbles. In the following graph three variables are
shown. The bubble represent the percentage of the total
gas and oil column which is gas. The horizontal axis is
the apparent vertical closure of the individual field and
the vertical axis is the depth to the Asmari reservoir.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


0 Masjid-I-sulaiman

Depth (Feet) to Asmari Reservoir


Bibi Hakimeh
Haft Kel
Naft-E-Safid Gachsaran
Paris
Agha Jari
-4000 Bushgan
Rag-E-Safid
Pazanan Karanj
Binak

Kilur Karim
Mansuri Marun
Susangerd Ahwaz Gulkhari
-8000
Ramahir
Shadegan
Kupal
Chashmeh Khush

-12000 Mulla Sani


Bubble Size proportional
to percent of column that
is gas

-16000
0 2000 4000 6000 8000
Vertical Closure (Feet) of Structure

Figure 1
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
The Zagros work led me to attempt to assess the role that gas
expansion might have in hydrocarbon habitat on the Arabian
Plate.

Gas Expansion
To that end I attempted to assess the process of gas
expansion by using average temperature gradients and and
assuming hydrostatic pressures to track the change in volume
of a set amount of gas would experience if a gas trap rose
through an depth change of 21,000 feet. This change is
expressed in the following graph (Fig. 2) as percent. The
graph uses standard gas reserve equations.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


What one can see is that beginning around 6 or 7
thousand feet the percentage change increases
markedly.
This led us to ask the question again could gas
expansion significantly impact the distribution of oil and
gas in the Basins of the Arabian Plate?

Background

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


0

Depth (Feet) before erosion


5000

10000

15000

20000

25000
0 20 40 60 80 100
Percent change in gas volume at depth

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com Fig. 2


Stratigraphic Elevation Thickness Plots for
Paleocene
Simultaneous with this work the senior author had been
working with a graphical display that I call a STEP plot.
The is a stratigraphic thickness elevation plot. For an array
of wells an interval is chosen. The interval thicknesses are
cross plotted against the elevation at the base of the
thickness interval (Fig 3). After working with these plots
for a number of years it was discovered that the
Paleocene interval, largely dominated by marine
sedimentation, was a particularly well behaved interval.
The next graph displays our database for all of the
countries of the Arabian Plate. The first step plot displays
a large amount of data and is some what confusing, but
an examination of a subset of data representing only
Jordan and Abu Dhabi showed great potential.
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Explanation
8000 Abu Dhabi

Iran

E le v a tio n (F e e t) a t b a s e 4000 Iraq

Israel

0 Jordan

Northern Emirates

Oman
-4000
Qatar-Bahrain-Kuwait

Saudi Arabia
-8000
Syria-Lebanon

Turkey
-12000 Yemen

-16000
0 4000 8000 12000
Fig. 3
Paleogene Thickness (Feet)
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
What this second graph offers is a very interesting
opportunity. The Jordan trend clearly projects to a higher
elevation than the Abu Dhabi Trend. We interpret amount
of displacement of the Jordan trend to represent the
amount of post Paleocene uplift. In this way Step plots of
the Paleocene wells offer a mean of measuring the
amount post Paleocene uplift of the geographic area of a
well.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Explanation
8000 Abu Dhabi

Iran

4000
E le v a tio n (F e e t) a t b a s e
Iraq

Israel

0 Jordan

Northern Emirates

Oman
-4000
Qatar-Bahrain-Kuwait

Saudi Arabia
-8000
Syria-Lebanon

Turkey
-12000 Yemen

-16000
0 4000 8000 12000
Paleogene Thickness (Feet) Fig. 4
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
All one needs to do is use the slope from the point distribution of
the graph (Fig. 5) and to write an equation for each data point to
derive an elevation change, either positive or negative. One can by
this by means mapping post Paleocene uplift and subsidence and
contouring the values as in the following map (Fig. 6).

Using GIS we have been able to correlate this post Paleocene


movement to hydrocarbon distribution and to enable a
comparison of oil versus gas distribution and to assess if there
does appear to be an impact on hydrocarbon habitat.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


2000

Elevation (Feet) at base 0

-2000

-4000

-6000

-8000

-10000
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000
Paleogene Thickness (Feet)
Fig. 5
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
The following map (Fig. 6) shows by contours the post Paleocene
uplift and subsidence for the Arabian Plate. An abrupt gray tone
change at the neutral line. By neutral line we show the position
where uplift changes to subsidence. The dark pattern on the map
shows pre-Paleocene subcrop. This are has undergone important
uplift but as the Paleocene is missing one can not use the same
methodology to quantify the amount of uplift.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Sharp break in gray
is neutral line

Fig. 6
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
The following graphs show our attempt to characterize the oil
versus gas distribution for the Arabian Plate. You will see graphs
that post gas and oil by the energy equivalent in oil, millions of
barrels of oil equivalent and you will see graphs that post gas in
terms of barrel volumes recalculated to volumes at the pressure
and temperature of the individual field reservoir depth. We have
done this so that one can compare gas to oil volume to volume.
The reason we have done this is that we want to understand how
these natural reservoir volumes impact the displacement of oil
from traps by gas. Only in this way can we assess the relative
importance of Gussow versus “gas expansion”.

Each of the following graphs in their own way help to


characterize the distribution of oil and gas on the Arabian Plate
and help the explorer understand where best to explore for oil
and gas and the attendant risks.
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Graphic Analysis

• Horizontal Axes
– Gas
• Volume at Depth (mmbo)
• Mmboe
– Oil (mmbo)
• Vertical Axes
– Depth
– Post Paleocene Uplift and Subsidence
– Elevation

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Gas mmboe and oil versus depth

The following graph (Fig. 7) shows the distribution of gas on an oil


equivalent basis (mmboe) and oil (mmbo) versus depth. The
distributions are necessarily “spikey.” We have attempted to create
displays that portray the distributions as naturally as possible. It is
helpful to mentally delimit the spikey distributions with an
envelope. Focusing on the left gas side of the graph you observe
in the following graph a tendency toward increasing gas with
depth. In contrast when one focuses on the right or oil side of the
graph there is a tendency of the oil distribution to reach a
maximum in the 8000 to 4000 foot depth range

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Arabian Plate MMBO or MMBOE Gas and Oil versus Depth. Gas is symbolized
by the red negative deflections and oil is symbolized by the black positive
deflections

Fig. 7
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Gas mmboe and oil mmbo versus post Paleocene
movement

The following graph (Fig. 8) shows the distribution of gas on an oil


equivalent basis and oil, versus post Paleocene movement. Note
that this graph uses a different and smaller scale than the first
graph. In order to construct this data set one uses a GIS system to
spatially correlate the hydrocarbon distribution to the distribution of
uplift and subsidence on the Arabian Plate.

The remarkable element of this graph is that a high percentage of


the gas and oil are restricted to a rather narrow belt around the
neutral zone. This distribution raises the important question: Does
late uplift or subsidence have a negative impact on oil and gas
distribution?
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Another important aspect of this distribution is that oil to a
more important degree can be found in the strata that have
been impacted by strong subsidence. This aspect of the
distribution raises the question: Does significant strain
negatively impact gas distribution more than oil distribution.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Arabian Plate MMBO or MMBOE of Oil and Gas versus post Eocene uplift or
subsidence. Gas is symbolized by negative red deflections. Oil is symbolized by
black positive deflections.

Fig. 8
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Gas and oil volumes in barrels at reservoir conditions
versus post Paleocene movement

In the following graph (Fig. 9) we recalculate the gas to barrel


volumes at reservoir depth and plot these values versus the post
Paleocene movement. We use an average thermal gradient and a
hydrostatic pressure gradient for calculation.

Comparing this graph to the previous shows that the gas volumes
in the sub surface are important in comparison to the oil volumes.
As can be seen in the graph there is a tendency for greater gas
volumes at equivalent post Paleocene subsidence than oil
volumes. However, there does not seem to be an tendency for
discouragement in oil distribution at high post Paleocene
subsidence depths.
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Arabian Plate Pore volume occupied by Oil and Gas at reservoir conditions versus
post Eocene uplift or subsidence. Gas is symbolized by negative red deflections. Oil
is symbolized by black positive deflections.

Fig. 9
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Gas mmboe and oil mmbo versus reservoir elevation

The following graph (Fig. 10) shows the distribution of gas on


an oil equivalent basis and oil versus reservoir elevation. We
have used GIS with a combination of actual field datums and a
spatial correlation to a DEM model to place the hydrocarbon
distribution into a elevation context. This graph serves to
remind us that the Arabian plate contains more oil than gas.
The graph also shows that significant oil reserves occur below
gas reserves in elevation.

If one attempts to mentally fit an envelope to the spikey


appearance of the graph the maximum oil and gas occur at a
general elevation of 4000 to 5000 feet subsea.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Arabian Plate Pore volume occupied by Oil and Gas at reservoir conditions versus
elevation of field reservoir. Gas is symbolized by negative red deflections. Oil is
symbolized by black positive deflections.
4000

-4000
ElevationinFeet

-8000

-12000

-16000

-20000
-300000 -200000 -100000 0 100000 200000
MMBO or MMBOE

Fig. 10
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Gas and oil volumes in barrels at reservoir conditions
versus reservoir elevation.
In the following graph (Fig. 11) we have recalculated the gas to
barrel volumes at reservoir depth and plotted these values
versus reservoir elevation. This graphic portrayal emphasizes
the importance of gas volume in relation to oil volume and
underlines the fact that gas volumes are large enough to
actually displace oil from traps. The graph shows that gas
volumes in the reservoir become dramatically more important
at shallow elevations. The implication is very strong that gas
at shallow elevations becomes a veritable “bully” and may not
allow the preservation of oil in shallow traps.

Even in a relatively “oily” basin gas distribution dominates at


shallow elevations.
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Arabian Plate Pore volume occupied by Oil and Gas at reservoir conditions versus
elevation of reservoir. Gas is symbolized by negative red deflections. Oil is
symbolized by black positive deflections.
4000

-4000
Elevation in Feet

-8000

-12000

-16000

-20000
-300000 -200000 -100000 0 100000 200000
Pore Vol oil and gas at depth
Fig. 11
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Gussow Principle: Where it works and where it
doesn’t on the Arabian Plate

The Gussow principle is illustrated in Figure 12. In Figure 12


gas displaces oil from traps until the oil spills updip resulting
in an increasing percentage of oil fill in the traps at higher
elevations.

Since there is a clear relationship of increasing pore volume of


gas to decreasing elevation of reservoir in Figure 11, which is
counter to Gussow, the Gussow principle by itself does not
account for the observed gas and oil distribution on the
Arabian Plate

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Implications for Habitat in general
• One early observation that I made working on t he Arabian Plate
was that in spite of the widely recognized “excellence ot the
habitat” for oil, only a small number of fields seemed to be spill
full. In a database of nearly 100 fields in the southern gulf area
only about 18 percent of the fields appeared to be spill full. This
observation had for many years made me suspicious of Gussow
as an operative mechanism, .
• However, now with this work on post Paleogene subsidence
and uplift there does appear to be an adequate explanation.
Simply that in the areas of post Paleogene subsidence gas is
put under further pressure and the fill of the fields is reduced
making them less than spill full

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Gussow Principle

Fig. 12
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Gussow “Expanded” Principle

A simple addition to Gussow Principle of the possibility of gas


expansion makes composite hypothesis which is consistent
with the observed data. Such an addition is illustrated in Figure
13. To be fully consistent with Figures 7, 8, 9, and 10 one need
a model which allows for Gussow at the lower elevations and
which may or may not display gas expansion at the higher
elevations.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Gas expansion added to Gussow Principle

Fig. 13
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Shallow gas or not
Gas may migrate to shallower traps by gas displacement until
up dip migration is dominated by oil, as in the Gussow
principle. However, if some gas does migrate up dip far
enough to be in the range of depths (5000 ft. to 0 ft.) in Figure
2, then gas expansion may begin to play a role in occupying
substantial trap volume. In this way trap volumes at shallower
depths begin to be dominated by gas. The progressive
increase in gas volume observed in Figure 11 indicates that the
gas expansion model provides a better explanation of the
data.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Path 1
Gussow Principle

Path 2
Gussow Principle with gas expansion

0
Depth (Feet) before erosion

5000

10000

15000
Comparison of Gussow
20000
versus Gussow Principle with
25000
Gas Expansion
0 20 40 60 80 100
Percent change in gas volume at depth

Fig. 14
Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com
Two Paths, Two Models, and Confusion made Clear

Whether enough gas migrates past the neutral line (Fig. 4) to


the shallow elevations of the Basin margin may result from
very small geographic changes in kitchen maturation or source
rock character in the kitchen. In this “expanded” model, fig.
14, one needs to expect that gas versus oil, product prediction
on basin margin would be a very, very difficult task. On the
Basin margin (Fig. 14) either process is possible. Is is useful to
think of two possible parallel models (Fig. 14) on the Basin
margin. One path in one part of the basin may result in oil on
the Basin margin and another path in another part of the Basin
might result in gas on the Basin margin. This two path model
explains why oil and gas distributions may be confusing on the
Basin margin.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


The High-Pore Volume Gas Giants
Gas Following the second path way in Figure 14 may result in a distinctive
and characteristic field of in the Gas-Oil habitat spectrum. There are a
group of shallow-depth, high-pore volume, low-gas volume gas fields that
occur on the basin margins. These fields are large in areal size and may
now be understood in the context of the dual path model of Figure 14 and
the volume changes . The habitat of these fields is such that hydrocarbons
have been enabled to migrate to the Basin margin. In order for this to have
happened ample hydrocarbon generation must have occurred in the basin
center or kitchen and there must have be a carrier system available for
migration to shallow depths or elevations. Finally an additional aspect of
the habitat may be that the basin or basin margin has be subjected to late
pressure reduction. Pressure reduction may result from uplift and erosion,
glacial retreat, or an excellent means of vertical migration on the basin
margin.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Consequences for general exploration
These observations have consequences for general
exploration.

1) The occurrence of large pore volume - low gas volume accumulations at


basin margins should not have a negative reflection of the oil prospectivity
of a basin.

2) Confusing distributions of gas and oil may in part be explained by the


spatial alternation of Gussow and Gas Expansion processes.

3) The spatial alternation of processes may be caused by several


phenomena. A few are listed below:

A) changes in gas versus oil prone source in kitchen


B) structural relief in kitchen.
C) presence or absence of vertical carrier systems along basin margin.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


The High-Pore Volume Gas Giants
Examples
• Abo Gas Fields of New Mexico
• Panhandle Gas Fields of Texas
• Ozona Gas Fields of Texas
• Trenton Gas Field of Indiana
• Kirkuk Gas of Iraq ?

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Expanded Gussow Model
• Includes role of gas Expansion
– double entendre - larger more general Gussow
includes gas expansion in fill - spill cross section
• Two Paths
– Helps to explain shallow interpretation of unusual
gas and oil distributions
• Gas Expansion generated large hydrocarbon
columns enable transition to vertical migration
• Exploration Consequences of model

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Percent Gas of HC by Volume in reservoir
Percent Gas of HC by mmboe

MMBOE gas
0 100,000 200,000 300,000
0

-4000
Elevation in Feet

-8000

-12000 Fig. 15

-16000

0 20 40 60 80 100
Percent Gas by Volume at depth or mmboe
Walter H. Pierce
MMBOE HC Percent
MMBO HC volume percent at depth

Oil MMBO
0 200,000 400,000 600,000 800,000
0

-4000
Elevaton (Feet)

-8000

-12000

-16000 Fig. 16

0 20 40 60 80
Walter H. Pierce Percent mmbo HC in MMBOE or Vol in reservoir
Conclusions I
• Middle East lends itself to Post Paleogene uplift
mapping
• Query process in combination with cross plots
enable interpretation of Gussow process versus uplift
gas expansion impact on product.
• Gas as “ the bully”

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Conclusions II

• Unexpected Result
– Preferential zone of neutral uplift and subsidence
• Shallow and late uplift fields
– Gas Expansion
• Expect oil below gas
– Gussow
• Deep and late subsidence fields
– Gussow
• Expect gas below oil

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


Conclusions III

• Shallow Gas and Oil (Expansion and Gussow)


– Big Impact on Oil exploration
– Small impact on Gas Reserves
– Confusing double path
– Enabling transition toward vertical migration from
lateral migration
• Neutral Uplift-Subsidence Zone
– Importance for future Investigations
• Deep Gas and Oil
– Dominance of Gussow

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com


References

• Gussow, W. C., 1954, differential entrapment of oil and


gas--A fundamental principle: American Association of
Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 38, p. 816-853.

• Price, Leigh, 1997, Origins, characteristics, Evidence for,


and Economic Viability's of Conventional and
Unconventional Gas Resource Bases, in Geologic
Controls of Deep natural Gas Resources in the United
States. USGS Bull. 2146-L, pp.181-207.

Walter H. Pierce walterhpierce@yahoo.com whpierceexploration.com