Journal article


Predicting reservoir quality and pressure barriers is a challenging task in carbonate systems. In this paper, we present new model results from the Lower Carboniferous Serpukhovian carbonates in the Karachaganak Field (Northern Kazakhstan), which is characterized by complex facies architectures and reservoir compartmentalization. The Serpukhovian sequence at Karachaganak is poorly imaged by seismic due to the presence of thick Permian salt canopies. The carbonate sequence comprises two carbonate build-ups: a larger Main build-up (MBU) in the eastern portion of the field, and a smaller isolated Western build-up (WBU). We used diffusion-based DionisosFlow forward stratigraphic modeling (FSM) coupled with a CougarFlow sensitivity analysis workflow to (1) review sub-salt seismic horizon picks based on process-modeling constraints, (2) understand the regional controls on the stratigraphic stacking patterns, (3) understand the distribution of reservoir facies, including potential lateral pressure barriers, and (4) constrain the impact and uncertainties of our choice of boundary conditions in the model. Results point out the need for revisions of existing reservoir-scale static models as FSM simulations indicate that the current seismic reflector pick for the base of the Serpukhovian Stage below the WBU is incompatible with the seismic geometries and facies distribution for this system. To reconcile modelling results with existing seismic geometries, the base of the Serpukhovian stage is expected to be about 180 m higher in the stratigraphy. This suggested revision is also supported by the drilling of a recent well that penetrated the top of the Permian 200 m higher in the stratigraphy on the WBU than anticipated. Modeling results also show that fast regional subsidence rates were the primary control for the Early Serpukhovian aggradational stacking pattern, but that slowing subsidence rate during the Late Serpukhovian due to the Uralian orogeny resulted in a switch to progradational sequence patterns. The forward stratigraphic model additionally demonstrates the major role of wind direction and short-term eustatic changes on the presence and distribution of reefs and breccia reservoir facies. Models show that the clinoforms’ angle of repose varies between the leeward and windward sides of the build-up, which leads to the deposition of mud draping on the leeward side that acted as fluid barriers. The presence and distribution of the reservoir and mud facies in the model can explain the observed reservoir compartmentalization at Karachaganak. Finally, our forward stratigraphic modeling workflow coupled with uncertainty analysis provides new quantitative constraints to understand the impact of diffusion coefficients and sediment production rates on the vertical and lateral reservoir heterogeneities and associated lateral pressure-barriers.

Publication date: 
Monday, February 1, 2021