Lithofacies paleogeography mapping and reservoir prediction in tight sandstone strata: A case study from central Sichuan Basin, China

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Sand-rich tight sandstone reservoirs are potential areas for oil and gas exploration. However, the high ratio of sandstone thickness to that of the strata in the formation poses many challenges and uncertainties to traditional lithofacies paleogeography mapping. Therefore, the prediction of reservoir sweet spots has remained problematic in the field of petroleum exploration. This study provides new insight into resolving this problem, based on the analyses of depositional characteristics of a typical modern sand-rich formation in a shallow braided river delta of the central Sichuan Basin, China. The varieties of sand-rich strata in the braided river delta environment include primary braided channels, secondary distributary channels and the distribution of sediments is controlled by the successive superposed strata deposited in paleogeomorphic valleys. The primary distributary channels have stronger hydrodynamic forces with higher proportions of coarse sand deposits than the secondary distributary channels. Therefore, lithofacies paleogeography mapping is controlled by the geomorphology, valley locations, and the migration of channels. We reconstructed the paleogeomorphology and valley systems that existed prior to the deposition of the Xujiahe Formation. Following this, rock-electro identification model for coarse skeletal sand bodies was constructed based on coring data. The results suggest that skeletal sand bodies in primary distributary channels occur mainly in the valleys and low-lying areas, whereas secondary distributary channels and fine deposits generally occur in the highland areas. The thickness distribution of skeletal sand bodies and lithofacies paleogeography map indicate a positive correlation in primary distributary channels and reservoir thickness. A significant correlation exists between different sedimentary facies and petrophysical properties. In addition, the degree of reservoir development in different sedimentary facies indicates that the mapping method reliably predicts the distribution of sweet spots. The application and understanding of the mapping method provide a reference for exploring tight sandstone reservoirs on a regional basis.




Zhong, Y., Zhou, L., Tan, X., Lian, C., Liu, H., Liao, J., … Cao, J. (2017). Lithofacies paleogeography mapping and reservoir prediction in tight sandstone strata: A case study from central Sichuan Basin, China. Geoscience Frontiers, 8(5), 961–975.

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