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Case study: Seismic acquisition research on salt dome structure in Tarim Basin
Xu Ligui*, Yan Feng and Shi Haifeng , BGP , CNPC
Summary Salt dome structure is an important object in oil exploration in Tarim basin. In the year 2002, the goal of the seismic acquisition research in Quele-zhongka is to locate the salt dome structure of the Tertiary in the area. We implemented the delicate near-surface survey and statics, optimized the specific 2D layout for the structure of deep salt domes, and intensified the excitation in single hole deep to high velocity layers in mountain areas. As a result, the quality of the seismic section has been obviously improved, and the structures of salt domes and anticlines are clearly displayed in the section. Introduction Tarim basin, located in the west of China with an area of 560,000km2, is the biggest oil-gas-bearing basin in China . In the significant thickness of sedimentary mantle formed in Camberian, Carboniferous, and Tertiary periods, there exit four layers of salt beds, among which the salt bed distributed in the lower Tertiary system of Kuche foreland basin in the north of Tarim is related most to the enrichment of petroleum and natural gas. In the light of the practice in many years, it is possible to find out the oil-gasreservoirs so long as the structural configuration of salt dome, especially the sub-salt structural configuration and trap is clear. Affected by the features of salt dome itself and the complex surface and underground geological structure in the foreland thrust fault belt, the data quality of some salt domes in Kuche foreland basin is very poor, even no reflection occurs somewhere. This badly restricts the further discovery of oil-gas reservoirs. To resolve this problem, a research project, 2-D seismic acquisition on salt domes, was carried out by BGP and Tarim Oil field Company, CNPC in 2002. Difficulties in exploration Research area, Quele-Zhongka district, is located in the southwest part of Kuche foreland thrust fault zone, the north of Tarim basin (Fig.1). The thick salt beds developed in the lower Tertiary system were strongly pressed during the later period of Himalayan orogeny, and plastically deformed into many salt domes, which are usually buried below the depth of 4000m. The thick sandstone layer beneath the salt domes is the main reservoir of petroleum and natural gas. So it would not be possible to find out the sub-salt reservores unless the structures of salt domes were found out. The obstacles display at four aspects as follows: x The conditions of seismic acquisition operations are very poor because of complex and various types of topographies. In this area, there are many types of topographies such as the mountains, the Gobi desert, incompact soil covering layers, and swamps and so on. In mountain areas, the surface is badly cut by gullies developed in different directions. The maximum relative elevation difference in the mountain area may reach as high as 200m. Such complex topographies result in the extreme difficulties and very low efficiency in the seismic acquisition operations. x Static corrections are very hard to do owing to great differences in the near-surface structures. The thickness and velocities of low-velocity layers in the area vary rapidly both in lateral and vertical directions. In mountain areas, the structure of the low-velocity layers is not clear, and their thickness may reach 100m; in swamp areas, the layer has the structure of double sublayers, weathering thickness is between 2 and 10m; in Gobi area, the incompact soil covering layer is also with double sub-layer structure, and the thickness of the layer is 8 to 50m. All of these make the near-surface surveys and precise statics very difficult. x Receiving and shooting condition are poor and the absorption and attenuation of seismic waves are strong in mountain areas. The mountain bodies in this area were formed during the later period of Himalayan orogeny in the end of Quaternary period. The width of the mountain areas along measuring lines are generally 5000~8000m. In the near-surface of the mountain bodies, not only the thick low-velocity layers are developed, but also exist structural cracks and rain eroded holes. So the attenuation of seismic waves in acquisition profiles is very strong, and may further badly influence the effective reflecting information of salt domes and the sub-salt structures. x The imaging quality of salt domes and the sub-salt structures is very bad due to the large embedding depth of salt beds and serious breakage of the overburden of

Fig.1: Schematic diagram for the location of the seismic acquisition research area

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the different near-surface structure models are established by different methods. secondly.. The results of different statics correction methods are compared in shot gathers. we optimize the geometry design to be suitable for the receiving of the reflecting waves both from deep salt dome and from shallow layers with high S/N. two spread lengths of 656m and 198m are adopted. According to the characteristics of the near-surface structures. It is decided that the acquisition software KLSeis2. It is found that the continuity and smoothness of the first arrival in gathers resulted from model-based and tomographic methods are better than that from other two methods. We apply the spread length of 198m in refraction survey in swamp or Gobi desert area where the relatively thin weathered layers are covered.Main Menu Case study: Seismic acquisition research on salt dome structure in Tarim Basin the salt beds.2). The former is for refraction survey. This will further result in the strong absorption of reflecting seismic wave energy so that the ratio of signal-to-noise of the salt dome and the sub-salt strata becomes very low and their imaging effect is very poor.2: Effect of statics in CMP gathers (a: Original. and the best is from tomographic method (Fig. the similarity coefficient method is also practiced to interpolate the thickness of the weathered layer. Lithology and stratigraphic dip survey is performed and the outcrop profiles along the exploration line are plotted so that the basic data can be obtained by selecting the proper acquisition parameters and establishing the near-surface model. Comprehensive near-surface structure model building. besides what is applied above. Acquisition techniques and strategies The aim of the seismic acquisition research in 2002 is to obtain seismic data with good reflection from the deep salt dome structure. b: first break refraction-based method. the linear interpolation method is applied to interpolate the velocity field of the low-velocity layers and top interface of the high-velocity layer. thirdly. Because the action of push-up tensile stress caused by the salt dome. and the depth of petroleum and natural gas is 5000~6000m. Design and application aimed at the mid-depth and deeper layers On the base of the geological models set up in the light of the legacy data.e. but in the refraction exploration of the Gobi desert area with relatively thick weathered layers in front of the mountain. The near-surface velocity model is inversed by the Fathom software so as to get a higher inversion accuracy. the latter is for tracing survey. is adopted. The depth and the distribution points of uphole surveys are enlarged in mountain areas. d: tomographic method) 2. and the SEG International Exposition and Seventy-Third Annual Meeting Main Menu . 13 uphole surveys are all drilled to the depth of 80m so that the high velocity layers are reached in every uphole survey. firstly. elevation method. we increase the shooting energy by drilling single shot hole deep into high velocity layers in mountain areas where there exist very thick covering layers. while in mountain areas. Fig. i. zonation based model-base method and tomographic method.0. we try to solve the static corrections by implementing delicate near-surface structure survey. Within the strip of mountain bodies by the size of 5500m long and 400m wide. a large amount of cracks and faults in the overburden of the salt dome are produced. c: model-based method. Delicate near-surface survey and statics Tomography exploration on the near-surface is practiced. establishing the accurate near-surface velocity model and doing fine statics computation. the embedding depth of salt beds is about 4000~5500m. the careful analysis of the issue about how to observe the reflecting waves from the salt domes is conducted. receiver gathers and stacked sections to find out the most suitable method for the area. In the area. which is developed by BGP. first break refractionbased method. so the quality of the raw seismic data gets improved. Detailed outcrop survey is carried out. The main part of the salt dome structure is just in the position of the mountain areas. In swamp. Gobi and desert areas. Optimization of static correction method The quantities of the statics are calculated with four kinds of methods. Comprehensive near-surface surveys Flexible refraction survey methods are applied according to different near-surface conditions. The techniques applied in the seismic acquisition research are as follows: 1. Considering the difficulties in exploration in this area.

Although the legacy stacked section is the final processing result. In data processing.Main Menu Case study: Seismic acquisition research on salt dome structure in Tarim Basin layout should be small group interval. and enhance the capacity of seismic drilling rig from drilling depth of 30m to more than 80m. their S/N is much higher than that within the records resulted from the array of shot holes in the low-velocity layers. and 30 additional shots are added on each of the flank so that the folds in structural targets are enhanced to a number over 120. reflection signals are disordered or even there is no reflection at all in the past seismic sections. and the results show that the reflection signals from shallow. the overall quality has remarkably been improved. 3. Fig. In the new section.4 shows the comparison between the stacked section of the research line 02B in SW-NE direction processed at site and the legacy final section intersected with the former one. the layout is changed into 4490-110-20-110-7530 manner. middle and deep strata are very clear in the records resulted from a single shot record in a shot hole deep into the high-velocity layers. The layout has some advantages as follows: Small group interval can lead to small CMP interval and effective folds at the top of the salt dome and the shallow layers. All of these measures can effectively improve the S/N of the data from shallow layers. It can be seen from Fig. 2) Increase the construction efforts to build the road along the research line across the mountains so that the drilling machine can be carried to the right places for drilling on the mountains. the top of the salt domes and the deep layers. The parameters of the layout are as follows: x group interval: 20m x Shotpoint spacing: 40/80m x receiver number: 592 x Layout: 6010-110-20-110. the S/N in shallow. a large amount of shot experiments are carried out in the mountain areas. and the quality of the records from a single shot in the depth near the interface between low-velocity layer and high-velocity layer is also better than that in the record from a shot totally within the low-velocity layers. provide proper mud. that makes a successful seismic acquisition research.6010 x folds: 74 x Array pattern: 3 string * 10 geophones. and the single shot holes deep into highvelocity layers. and the folds can be enhanced by the arrays of the CMP gathers.areal array with “triangle” pattern . the layout aimed at middle and deep layers. The reflections from the top of the salt domes and the overburden of the salt domes have a higher S/N and the attitude of the strata is legible and reliable. Because the S/N of the single shot in a shallow shot hole is very low. the salt domes all exit under the compex mountain areas where the thickness of the weathered layers is significant. statics. through which the quality of the seismic sections get improved materially.3 shows a comparison between the stacked section of the research line 02A along S-N direction processed at site and the legacy final stacked section neighboring and parallel to the research line 02A. four kinds of measures in our acquisition research are adopted: 1) Change the circulation manner. the past seismic acquisitions were all implemented with the array of shallow shot holes within the weathered layers. in addition to strict field operation monitoring and quality control management. middle and deep part of the section is very low. and the sub-salt anticline structures are displayed obviously. So. the noise along the line can be reduced by trace arrays. and the reflection signals from the bottom of salt domes and the sub-salt strata are intensified obviously. Disscussion about the seismic sections It is the application of the techniques such as delicate nearsurface surveys. 3) Select the proper place where the shot hole can be drilled into high-velocity layers. which breaks through the past record level of seismic drilling depth in the mountain areas of Tarim basin. long spread and suitable folds. the exciting in a single shot hole deep into high velocity layers is an effective approach to improve the S/N of the raw seismic data and the quality SEG International Exposition and Seventy-Third Annual Meeting Main Menu . 4) Use the appropriate explosive with high density to guarantee the effective coupling between the explosive and the surrounding rock in the shot hole.a string of geophone is stretched in lateral direction. However. and the outlines of the salt domes and the sub-salt structures are quite obscure. the displacement of the shot point should be within a reasonable range.4 that both the S/N and the In research area. the outlines of salt domes and the reflection of the sub-salt strata are quite clear. δy = 4m On the two flanks of a structure. and to improve the effect of explosions as well as to reduce the length of explosive bar and the depth of shot hole. The long spread is helpful to the receiving of reflection signals from deep layers. In order to realize the shooting totally in high velocity layers in such a mountain areas where the thickness of the low-velocity layers is near to 100m. multiple channels. Therefore. Fig. Techniques of shot hole deep to high velocity layers in mountain areas of reflection from salt dome structures. During the acquisition research at this time. however. Ly = 36m x Geophone separation: δx = 3m. x Array length: Lx = 9m.

The techniques and measures practiced in the research are suitable for the research area so that the quality of seismic sections from the research acquisition gets remarkable improved. The configurations of the salt domes and the sub-salt structures are clear and reliable. The outlines of the salt domes and the features of the structure are clear. Petroleum Industry Press. from the point to the line”. Mr. 1993. Petroleum Industry Press. advanced equipment and strict measures of quality control are always necessary.3: Comparison between the stacked section of research line 02A and the legacy section (b) The final stacking section of the legacy section intersected with line 02B Fig. Lu Jimeng. Liu Xinwen for their great contribution to this paper. 3D seismic exploration should be the best choice to locate the salt dome and the sub-salt structure exactly. Yang Juyong. Petroleum University Press. 1993. Road Toward Precise Seismic Exploration. Principle of Seismic Exploration. (a) Stacked section of research line 02B processed at site (a)stacked section of research line 02A processed at site (b) The final stacked section of the legacy section parallel to line 02A Fig.. Sun Jinzhong. In order to realize this object. Acknowledgments We would like to thank Mr.4: Comparison between the stacking section of research line 02B and the legacy section Conclusions To get high quality reflection data from the salt domes developed in lower Tertiary system is the object of our seismic acquisition. Qian Yuping and Mr. adequate investment. The seismic sections reveal that the scale of the salt domes and the anticlines is quite large. Mr. Mr. we follow the strategy “from the outside to the inside. The sub-salt structures get further affirmed in the new section. Yan Shixin et. The reliable reflection images show up clearly in the places of the section where no reflection exists in the legacy section. Wan Weihua . Mountainous Geophysical Exploration Technology in Mountain Areas. so the further work such as detailed data processing and exploration is worthy. To guarantee the application of the new acquisition techniques and strategies. Reference Li Qingzhong. 2000. SEG International Exposition and Seventy-Third Annual Meeting Main Menu .Main Menu Case study: Seismic acquisition research on salt dome structure in Tarim Basin resolution of the new section have been greatly improved. and next is the improvement of excited conditions and the optimization of observing layouts. The research starts from the statics of complex near-surface.

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