Abnormal Formation Pressures: Implications to Exploration, by Walter H. Fertl

By Walter H. Fertl

Petroleum formation pressures

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Additional resources for Abnormal Formation Pressures: Implications to Exploration, Drilling, and Production of Oil and Gas Resources

Example text

Another practical application of some of these concepts (osmotic phenomena) has been proposed by Pirson (1967)in the use of well logs to locate osmotic entrapment of hydrocarbons. Zen and Hanshaw (1964)proposed osmosis as an important cause of the high pore fluid pressure responsible for flotation of overthrust fault sheets and referenced overpressures up to 400 atmospheres above hydrostatic where shales separate formation waters of different salinities. Several other regional studies of osmotic and salt-filtering phenomena of shales and compacted clays have been successfully related to formation pressure and chemical anomalies.

Fluid pressure/overburden pressure ratio) at failure is unity. Such behavior is typical of shale horizons, which act aS the locus of overthrust faults, whereas dilation hardening affects the intervening sandstone or limestone horizons, which in turn form the overthrust sheets. Once shear failure is initiated, movement is essentially frictionless as long as excess pore pressures (overpressure) are maintained. Shale diapirism (mud lumps, mud volcanoes). Conditions necessary for diapirism are a density inversion including a material of low shear strength, a situation which may be produced when a low-permeability formation is rapidly loaded and depocenters are rapidly shifted (Gretener, 1969).

Schematic model of pressure bridge (after Fertl, 1971). ) Concepts for abnormal formation pressure origin Several, and often a multitude, of superimposed factors may be the cause of abnormal pore fluid pressures. The phenomena are related to geologic, physical, geochemical, and mechanical processes. Frequently, it is difficult or even impossible to speculate on the importance of each individual cause for a given overpressure environment in a specific geologic area. S. Gulf Coast Basin have been discussed by Harkins and Baugher (1969) as the direct result of the structural and depositional history.

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