Using Plate Tectonics to Better Assess Frontier Plays in Southeast Asia

A Globally Consistent Cenozoic Plate Tectonic Model for Southeast Asia: Insights from Regional Tectonostratigraphy and Implications for Future Exploration


Among the challenges associated with exploring Southeast Asian frontier plays and assessing their potential reservoir and source rock intervals, is understanding the tectonic events that occurred in the region. The timing and context of these regional events provide insight into the creation, evolution, and potential destruction of hydrocarbon play types in the prospective basins. A recently revised plate model generated using multi-disciplinary data examples from basins around the South China Sea and Eastern Indonesia, shows how and when Cenozoic tectonism influenced the local Mesozoic and Cenozoic petroleum systems. The regional plate kinematics operate within a consistent, globally constrained plate tectonic model.

 

AAPG 2017 International Conference & Exhibition, London

 

This year’s AAPG International Conference & Exhibition will take place from 15th October to 18th October in London, UK, during which Jamie Higton (Geoscientist, Halliburton Landmark) will present on: A Globally Consistent Cenozoic Plate Tectonic Model for Southeast Asia: Insights from Regional Tectonostratigraphy and Implications for Future Exploration.

 

Abstract: Almost four decades after Warren B. Hamilton’s 1979 synthesis on "Tectonics of the Indonesian Region," a plethora of competing ideas and models has been published for the Cenozoic evolution of the Indo-Pacific region. However, drilling campaigns during the past ten years have proven there is still much to learn in terms of regional understanding. Substantial complexity in the number, timing, and inter-relationship between various regional tectonic events contributes significantly to the challenges of de-risking frontier plays.

A long-term project was undertaken to evaluate the existing published regional tectonic models and test them against the available public-domain stratigraphic, geochronological, and geophysical data. This provided the basis for, and underpins, a revised plate model that honours both the global-scale plate circuit constraints alongside the higher-resolution detail of the observed regional and local tectonic events. The timing and context of these regional events are the most important factors when assessing the creation, evolution, and potential destruction of hydrocarbon play types in the prospective basins of the region.

Examination of data examples from multiple locations around the South China Sea margins allow resolution of the most likely timing for events, such as rift to drift transition, spreading ridge jump, cessation of spreading, and later collisions. By taking a broader view of relative plate motions, it is possible to assess which of the driving mechanisms of either escape tectonics, slab pull, or slab roll-back was most important during this region’s evolution. In eastern Indonesia, key events include the collision of the Australian continental promontory with the Eurasian margin and the interaction of exotic terranes with northern New Guinea. By reconciling data examples from basins around Sulawesi, the Banda Arc, and West Papua, a consistent plate model can be constructed. This is used to gain insight into the effect of Cenozoic tectonism on the prospectivity of local Mesozoic and Cenozoic petroleum systems.

Plate models are powerful tools to aid prediction of play prospectivity in areas with little data. With greater resolution now built into a consistent model, future assessment of burial history, maturation of source rocks, timing of trap formation, and the relationship between the hinterland provenance and potential reservoir quality in the region’s frontier basins can be supported.

 

JOIN US

This is one of a series of technical presentations, which will be delivered by Halliburton experts at the AAPG International Conference & Exhibition, London event on 15-18 October 2017. The full details of the event and agenda can be found here.

 

Join us to learn about key geological challenges facing exploration and the latest developments to optimize production.