Exploration: Advancements in Salt Modeling by US Gulf of Mexico Operators

Here’s an example of how full tensor gravity gradiometry data allowed E&P operators in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to accurately model the top autochthonous and base allochthonous salt.

(Source: Collage by Hart Energy; images by Shutterstock.com)

This article discusses a brief case study to demonstrate the modeling concept in action. In this specific example, two companies had seismic over the same area of salt in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The bottom of the allochthonous salt body was clearly depicted on one section of the seismic, but could not be clearly determined in other sections. This older seismic was therefore problematic for the two companies.

One company drilled through their salt where there was a clear end. The second company decided to use the seismic to make an informed guess about where the salt bottom might be. Unfortunately, their guesswork didn’t pay off—the second company never made it out of the salt while the first did.

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