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Virtual field trip to Late Jurassic Carbonates of Central Saudi Arabia

Late Jurassic carbonates of Saudi Arabia contain some of the the world’s most prolific oil-producing strata in super giant reservoirs. Small scale stratigraphic architecture and associated property and flow heterogeneities are poorly resolved in the inter-well scale of hundreds of meters because such heterogeneities are subseismic and beyond penetration of borehole logs. This blindspot leads to oversimplified reservoir models and simulations. However, analogous strata is spectacularly exposed in the outcrops along the Tuwaiq Mountain Escarpment, central Saudi Arabia. This virtual field trip focuses on the Late Jurassic Hanifa Formation outcrops at Wadi Birk, central Saudi Arabia with an objective to highlight and display interwell scale heterogeneities associated with depositional architecture. The drone-survey involved two-stages: (1) a complete (4x4 km2) nadir-view survey with a fixed-wings-drone (Wingtra), (2) high-resolution survey of cliff’s along mesas (>20 km) with DJI-M600 (hexacopter), where the drones were equipped with a Sony-RX1R-ii-42 MP camera. The imagery and Ground Control Points (laid before survey and accurately measured) were used to develop georeferenced high-resolution (cm-scale) 3D digital outcrop model (DOM) with Pix4D. The DOM is interpreted with VRGS to capture the formation architecture and dimensionality. The DOM is supplemented with geological (measured section, thin sections), petrophysical (spectral gamma ray), and geophysical (ground-penetrating-radar and shallow-seismic) datasets. The observations and results will be used as input into high-resolution static reservoir models to address the gap of our understanding in inter-well scale heterogeneities of similar subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs.


Pankaj Khanna, Ahmad Ihsan Ramdani, Gaurav Siddharth Gairola & Volker Vahrenkamp
KAUST, Saudi Arabia
GeoUtrecht 2020
Saudi Arabia