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IPA, 2006 - 24th Annual Convention Proceedings, 1995


PA95 - 1.1 230



Awang Hm Satyana" a

The Barito Basin in Southeast Kalimantan is located along the southeastern edge of the stable Sundaland continent. Extensive exploration has been conducted in the basin since late in the 19th century and has been rewarded with the discovery of four commercial oil and gas fields located in the northeastern end of the basin (Tanjung Raya area). The last commercial field was discovered in 1967. Since then not a single commercial discovexy has been made. Nonetheless, recent studies indicate that a substantial amount of oil has been generated and expelled in this basin. The basin creates a dilemma. Why has a basin with good source rocks, good reservoirs, and multiple trapforming tectonic events so far produced so little oil ? This study contributes one of the many ideas needed to solve this "Barito Dilemma". The idea focuses on the tectonic implication of the Paleogene unconformities in the basin to infer the occurrence of tectonic events which, in turn, reveal the occurrence of Paleogene structural traps. The study recognizes three unconformities : (1) in the latest Eocene. (2) in middle Oligocene. (3) in the latest Oligocene. These unconformities are contemporaneous with distinct faunal changes, plate readjustment around Sundaland and with eustatic sea level drops. The middle Oligocene unconformity is major and coincides with structure-forming tectonics. The unconformity reveals the presence of paleo-structures involving the Tanjung Formation. These may play a role as paleo-

structural traps (paleo-anticlines) and were favorably positioned for the entrapment of early migrating hydrocarbons. Isopach maps indicate that these paleotraps occur in areas where the Tanjung Formation is thin. The preserved paleo-structural traps, as yet undisturbed by the ongoing basin inversion, are thought to have major importance for the hydrocarbon potential of the area.


The "Barito Dilemma" is the discrepancy between the large amounts of hydrocarbons thought to have been generated in the Barito basin and the much smaller reserves found despite an extensive exploration effort. According to available records, the first exploration effort in the basin was undertaken as early as 1854, long before the first discovery of commercial oil in Indonesia (North Sumatra) in 1885. The first recorded wells were drilled in 1934. Early drilling was successful with the discoveries of the Tanjung and Kambitin fields in the late 1930's by BPM (de Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij - the predecessor of today's Royal Dutch Shell group). After the Second World War, the Warukin Field was discovered by BPM - Shell in 1965. On December.30, 1965, PEXMINA (now PERTAMINA) assumed from Shell the responsibility for exploration, development, and production in the Barito Basin. Learning from the discovery of the Warukin Field, PERTAMINA discovered the Tapian Timur Field in 1967. Foreign contractors have been involved in the search for hydrocarbons in this basin since 1967 (CONOCO, PHILLIPS, PEXAMIN, AMOCO, TREND, TRIDENT, HUFFCO and PERMINTRACER) and covered almost the entire basin. These companies applied different exploration strategies and a number


of exploration targets were tested, but with no success. Not a single commercial field has been discovered since 1967. The Barito Basin is one of the basins encircling the Sundaland Craton in Western Indonesia. The Kutei, Northwest Java, Sumatra and Natuna basins are counterparts to the Barito Basin. The Barito Basin has rich, mature source rocks, some of which are believed to be prolific lacustrine source rocks, good reservoirs, good seals and multiple trap forming tectonic events. Recent geochemical studies have concluded that the Barito source rocks have generated and expelled large volumes of hydrocarbons. However, the historical records reveal that the Barito Basin has had a long and disappointing exploration history, particularly compared to the prolific Kutei Basin. The lack of success in the Barito Basin is difficult to understand and accept. Why has a basin with a good petroleum system and similar geologic setting and histoxy to adjacent prolific basins so far produced so little oil ? Mason et al. (1993) called this the "Barito Dilemma". seem to control the tectonic development of the area (Satyana, 1994) (Figure 2). The Barito Platform is almost structureless. However, the manifestations of thin-skinned tectonics are indicated on the platform. Satyana and Silitonga (1993) studied the area and observed the presence of decollements, ramps, and ramp anticlines.

The Barito Basin contains a relatively thin layer of Paleogene sediments which were deposited in a generally marginal to shallow marine environment, and a much thicker Neogene section deposited in a foredeep basin paralleling the emerging Meratus Mountains. Up to 5000 meters of sediments were deposited in the Neogene depocentre. The stratigraphy of the basin is controlled by the tectonic setting. Prevailing extensional conditions during the Paleogene resulted in transgressive sedimentation. The sediments became regressive when compressional tectonics dominated the area during the Neogene. Some pulses of regression occurred during the Paleogene, indicating a brief change from extensional to compressional tectonics. This phenomenon is crucial to this study. Based on the Tertiary tectonic setting, five major depositional cycles are recognized in the Barito Basin: (1) middle Eocene - late Eocene, (2) early Oligocene, (3) late Oligocene - earliest Miocene, (4) early Miocene - middle Miocene, and ( 5 ) late Miocene Pliocene (Figure 3). The first cycle started during the Eocene with deposition of nonmarine pebbly sands, fluvial to nearshore sands, silts, shales and coals. These deposits are recognized as the Lower Tanjung Member of the Tanjung Formation. The cycle grades upwards through marine shales and marls into limestone of the Upper Tanjung Member. The cycle ended in the Late Eocene. The thickness of the Tanjung Formation varies and is related to its position in the basin. On the Barito Platform, the sediments are 450 - 650 meters thick and thicken towards the depocentre (foredeep) to as much as 1300 meters. The second cycZe consists of regressive sediments including the Lower Berai Member of the Berai

Tectonic and Stmctud Setting The Barito Basin is located along the southeastern edge of the stable Sundaland continent (Figure 1). The Meratus Mountains define the basin in the east. To the north, it is distinguished from the Kutei Basin by the Adang Flexure or Barito - Kutei Cross Fault. Southward, it extends into the Java Sea to the Florence High. The basin is asymmetric with a foredeep at the frontal zone of the Meratus Mountains and a platform towards the Sundaland craton. The onshore part of the basin has a size of 40,000 sq. km. The structural style of the Barito Foredeep is characterized by tight, parallel trends of folds bounded by high-angle east dipping reverse faults. The structures increasingly imbricate towards the Meratus Mountains and involve basement. The anticlines are considered to be fault related (Satyana and Silitonga, 1994). Conspicuous structures appear only in the northeastern end of the basin (Tanjung Raya area) where the oil fields are located. Outside that area, the basin is mildly tectonized. Such structural concentration is considered to result from the encirclement of the area by the pre-Tertiary\massifs (Northern Massifs) of the Meratus Mountains which

Formation, which grades from marls and limestones through shales into silts and coals. This sequence is as old as early Oligocene and is considered to be contemporaneous with warping, faulting, uplift and erosion in the basin. Accordingly, throughout the basin, these sediments are thin or absent (Figure 4). The average thickness is 150 meters. The third cycle started in the Late Oligocene with the deposition of shales, marls and limestones of the Berai Formation. Subsequently, rapid regional subsidence, largely by a sag mechanism, took place, resulting in the deposition of massive limestones of the Berai Formation in a shelf environment. The cycle ended in the earliest Miocene time when transitional sediments which show the inception of Neogene regression indicated by marls, shales and sands evolved into the subsequent cycle. The base of the fourth cycle marks the inception of a regressive sequence in the basin. This cycle commenced in the early Miocene, coinciding with the initiation of the uplift of the Meratus area (proto Neogene inversion). The sediments are recognized as the Lower Warukin Member of the Warukin Formation, consisting of deltaic sands, silts, shales and coals. Regional uplift by the late Miocene ended the cycle. The jifth cycle started in the earliest late Miocene. The sediments are represented by nonmarine to marginal marine sediments with thick coals, sands, silts and shales belonging to the Upper Warukin Member. The sediments grade upwards into a fine clastic series of the Pliocene Dahor Formation, representing a local transgression. The Meratus Mountain uplift continued throughout the Pliocene and peaked in the Plio-Pleistocene. Areas near the present Meratus Mountains received thick detrital sediments (the Dahor molasse) eroded from the uplifted region. The Tertiary unconformities of the Barito Basin have not yet been studied in detail. The present study examines unconformities during the Paleogene based on evidence from : (1) biostratigraphy, (2) regional correlation and tectonics, and (3) relative and global sea-level changes. No attempt has been made to specify the types of unconformities because it is considered unessential to the aim of the study. The study concludes that during the Paleogene, the Barito Basin was interrupted by the three unconformities (Figures 3 and 5) :

(1) during the latest Eocene, (2) during middle Oligocene, and (3) during the latest Oligocene.
These unconformities are corelatable to the inception and termination of Paleogene sedimentary cycles.

Bi ostmtigmphic Evidence
Based on the distribution, first occurrence and extinction of benthonic foraminifera during the Paleogene, it can be seen that major unconformities coincide with faunal assemblage changes (Figure 5). The latest Eocene unconformity overlies the middle to late Eocene transgressive sequence of the Tanjung Formation. The unconformity is recognized by the sudden extinction of A ssiilina, Discocyclina, Pellatispira and Biplanispira &d a distinct first occurrence of Nummulites fichteli, Heterostegina bantamensis and Cycloclypeous. The middle Oligocene unconformity overlies the early Oligocene regressive sequence of the Lower Berai Formation. The unconformity is marked by a sharp extinction of Hastigenna, Nummulites, Lepidocyclina papuaensis, Heterostegina bantam ensis, and Cycloclypeous koolhoveni and a distinct first occurrence of Lepidocyclina form osa and Neoalveolina pygm aea The latest Oligocene unconformity is a diastem indicated by a sharp extinction of Neoalveolina pygm aea and a distinct inception of Spiroclypeous and Miogypsina. The diastem represents the

The geological term "unconformity" refers to a hiatus in a sequence, marked by a major break in sedimentation or by a surface separating younger rocks above from older rocks below. The unconformity surface may represent denudation or nondeposition; in either case it represents a period of unrecorded time.

commencement of the Meratus uplift during the Neogene. Regional Cornlation and Tectonic Evidence The occurrences of Paleogene unconformities in the Barito and other circum-Sunda basins are closely related to the timing of major plate readjustments in Southeast Asia (Figure 6). Middle Oligocene (30 Ma) tectonism in much of SE Asia suggests a major Oligocene plate readjustment (van de Weerd and Armin, 1992). A major middle Oligocene unconformity is present in the South China Sea and peripheral areas. This unconfonnity is probably related to active sea-floor spreading of the South China Sea with concomitant subduction in NW Kalimantan starting at about the same time. The Kutei Basin shows a major unconformity in the middle Oligocene separating the unconformable AtanBongan and BebuluMarahKlinjau sedimentary groups. A mild unconformity occurred in the late Eocene, separating the TanjungKeham Haloq and Atan formations. In Java the Oligocene was marked by uplift, block faulting, and andesitic volcanism. A major middle Oligocene unconformity occurred in the northwest Sumatran forearc basin. In onshore Sumatra basins, a middle Oligocene unconfonnity separates Eoceneearly Oligocene sediments from late Oligocene-early Miocene nonmarine clastics. Relative Sea Level Changes and Eustatic Evidence Geologists have long postulated that sedimentation is governed by relative sea level changes. For example, Suess in 1906 postulated that unconformities bounding rock formations were related to eustatic sea level falls. Changes in relative sea level are a combination of changes in eustatic sea level and movements (uplift or subsidence) of a pre-existing datum horizon in the underlying sediment pile. Changes in relative sea level are measured on seismic data from shifting patterns of coastal onlap. Coastal encroachment (landward coastal onlap) results from rising relative sea level, while a downward (basinward) shift in coastal onlap results from a fall in relative sea level (Milton and Bertram, 1991). The presence of Paleogene unconformities in the Barito Basin is correlatable to global curves for relative change of coastal onlap and eustacy (Figure 3) w a i l et al., 1977). The middle Oligocene unconformity is coincident with the major shifting of coastal onlap basinward and major sea level fall at 30 Ma. This unconformity separates the supercycle sets Tejas A and Tejas B in sequence chronostratigraphy. The unconformities of the latest Eocene and the latest Oligocene are contemporaneous with minor shifting of coastal onlap basinward and a mild sea level fall at 36 and 25.5 Ma, respectively. PALEBGENE STRUCTURES Tectonic Significance of Unconfomities Unconfomities have important tectonic implications. Most unconformities represent a vertical crustal movement suffkient to cause erosion. Unconformities that mark the tops and bottoms of regional sequences have structural significance, either signaling orogenic events of folding, faulting and igneous intrusion, or reflecting broad regional epeirogenic warping (Davis, 1984). In other words, an unconformity can be used to assess the presence of deformed rocks (structures) below an unconformity. This raises a long-standing question about the relationship between uplift (epeirogeny), which mostly creates an unconfonnity, and lateralkmgential compressional stress (orogeny), which mostly creates a fold. Regional tectonic considerations lead to the conclusion that tangential compressional stress mostly was caused by plate collision around Sundaland (Figure 6). This is a principal stress in Kalimantan which has caused both unconformities and crustal shrinkage (folds). Thus, uplifts driven predominantly by horizontal compression are considered to have caused the elevation necessary for regression, erosion, new sedimentary and faunal environments and to have triggered the formation of Paleogene orogenic folds in the Barito Basin. Barit0 Paleo-Stmctunes The unconfomities of the Barito Basin reveal the Paleogene tectonic events. In this paper, these unconformities have been used to assess and define the presence of Paleogene structures. Emphasis is placed on the middle Oligocene unconformity which is considered the major unconformity during the Paleogene: The consequent structuring involves the Tanjung Formation which was folded initially in the

latest Eocene and subsequently grew larger. These structures are called paleo-structures to distinguish them from neo-structures which were formed mostly by Plio-Pleistocene compressional tectonics. This condition agrees with a recent study by Courteney (1995) which concludes that the middle Eocene and older sediments of the Barito Basin have been inverted and then eroded prior to the deposition of the late Oligocene sediments. The Plio-Pleistocene tectonic event most probably has complicated, concealed or even destroyed the paleo-structures. There is, however, a strong possibility that some paleo-structures have survived. The 700 meter thick marine shales of the Upper Tanjung provide a good resilient seal to preserve deformed Lower Tanjung rocks through the ages. Mason et al. (1993) introduced a method to search for paleo-structures (relic structures) in the Barito Basin. The method is based on the concept that Oligocene tectonics most likely formed structures contemporaneously with late phases of Upper Tanjung deposition. Therefore, Upper Tanjung depositional thins should indicate the presence of Lower Tanjung highs or possible paleo-anticlines. In this study, depositional thins of the Upper Tanjung and Lower Berai Members are examined to indicate paleo-structures of the Tanjung Formation. The depositional thins of the Upper Tanjung and Lower Berai Members were contemporaneous with the latest Eocene and middle Oligocene tectonic pulseshnconformities ,respectively. The use of isopach mapping as well as structural restoratiori-is important in the recognition and accurate interpretation of paleo-structures. Figure 7 shows a Tanjyng Formation isopach map in the Tanjung Raya area. Depositional thins and thicks of the Tanjung Formation are interpreted to represent structural highs and lows, respectively, of the basement and/or the Lower Tanjung. It is clear that the Tanjung and Kambitin oil fields as well as other oil wells are associated with the depositional thin areas. The fields and wells produce oil from Lower Tanjung sands. The depositional thick areas do not have oil fields or successful wells. Depositional thin areas are interpreted to be the site of anticlines of the Lower Tanjung Member, whereas depositional thick areas are Lower Tanjung synclines. Structural restoration on seismic sections by horizon flattening reveals the development of a paleostructure. Figure 8 shows the structural restoration of the Tanjung field, which is considered a paleostructural trap. The sections fiom the latest Eocene to late Oligocene indicate that the Tanjung field was a paleo-structure which was situated in a depositional thin of the Tanjung Formation and has been refolded since the late Eocene. The amplitude of the anticline became larger through the middle Oligocene and late Oligocene. Figure 8b shows the middle Oligocene unconformity affecting the uplifted and eroded portion of the Tanjung Formation. The conclusion from the restoration sequence is that the Tanjung field is a structure that has been uplifted and folded prior to the advent of the Neogene structuring.


The Paleogene petroleum system of the Barito Basin is sourced by carbonaceous shales and coals of the Lower Tanjung Member which started to generate and expel hydrocarbons some 20 Ma (middle of early Miocene time) and significantly some 15 Ma (early middle Miocene time) ago. The Lower Tanjung sediments are good to excellent reservoir rocks. The thick marine shales of the Upper Tanjung Formation are perfect caps. Towards the middle of the early Miocene, early migrated oil would fill available traps provided by paleo-structures (paleo-traps) mostly formed in the middle Oligocene. Subsequent tectonic events during the Neogene and Pleistocene could have enhanced as well as destroyed paleo-traps. The thick seal of marine shales of the Upper Tanjung may have helped preserve the paleo-traps. Such Paleogene structures, as yet undisturbed by the ongoing basin inversion, could have major interest as potential hydrocarbon accumulations. The primary areas of interest for this remaining hydrocarbon potential in paleo-structures should be in depositional thin areas as indicated in Figure 7. The areas to the east of the Tanjung field and to the southwest of the Tanjung and Kambitin Fields are of prime interests. Depositional thicks may conceal synclinal kitchen areas which sourced anticlines in depositional thin areas.

1. During the Paleogene, the stratigraphy of the

Barito Basin was unconformities : interrupted by three International Symposium on Sequence Stratigraphy in S.E. Asia. Daly, M.C., Hooper, B.G.D., and Smith, D.G., 1987, Tertiary plate tectonics and basin evolution in Indonesia. Proceedings of the IPA 16th Annual Convention, 399-428. Davis, G.H., 1984, Structural geology of rocks and regions. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Singapore. Mason, A.D.M., Haebig, J.C., and McAdoo, R.L., 1993, A fresh look at the North Barito Basin, Kalimantan. Proceedings of the IPA 22nd Annual Convention, 589-606. Milton, N., and Bertram, G., 1991, A dictionary of sequence stratigraphic terminology. BP Exploration, Glasgow. Satyana, A.H., and Silitonga, P.D., 1993, Thin-skinned tectonics and fault-propagation folds : new insights to the tectonic origin of Barito folds, South Kalimantan. Proceedings of the IAGI 22nd Annual Convention, 589-606. Satyana, A.H., and Silitonga, P.D., 1994, Tectonic reversal in East Barito Basin, South Kalimantan: consideration of the types of inversion structures and petroleum system significance. Proceedings of the IPA 23rd Annual Convention, 57-74. Satyana, A.H., 1994, The northern massifs of the Meratus Mountains, South Kalimantan : nature, evolution, and tectonic implications to the Barito structures. Proceedings of the IAGI 23rd Annual Convention.

(1) in the latest Eocene. (2) in middle Oligocene, and (3) in the latest Oligocene. 2. The Paleogene unconfomities of the Barito Basin coincide with distinct changes of faunal assemblages, regional plate readjustment around Sundaland and eustatic sea level changes. 3. The middle Oligocene unconformity is a major unconformity which tectonically is related to the formation of paleo-structures of the Tanjung Formation. 4. The paleo-structural traps of the Tanjung Formation are located in depositionally thin areas of the Tanjung Formation.
5 . The preserved paleo-structural traps, as yet undisturbed by the ongoing basin inversion, have the most immediate interest for hydrocarbon exploration in the Barito Basin.

The author acknowledges his gratitude to the Exploration Department of PERTAMINA Jakarta and Balikpapan for mentoring and granting permission to publish the paper. Many unpublished reports have been consulted for this paper and, thus, credit is due to numerous geologists, geophysicists, and paleontologists who collected and analyzed the data in the Barito Basin. The paper benefitted from fruitful discussion with Tony Mason of PERMINTRACER during his visit to Balikpapan in 1993. Elan Biantoro of PERTAMINA Balikpapan is thanked for providing the structural restoration of the seismic section. The figures were drafted by Suharto, Djoko, and Putut of PERTAMINA Balikpapan. Lanny Kristiani Satyana, the author's wife, critically improved the English language.

Vail, P.R., Mitchum, R.M.Jr., and Thompson, S.111, 1977, Relative changes of sea level from coastal onlap. In Payton, C.E., ed., Seismic Stratigraphy Applications to Hydrocarbon Exploration, AAPG Memoir 26, 63-82. van de Weerd, A.A., and Armin, R.A., 1992, Origin and evolution of the Tertiary hydrocarbon-bearing basins in Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia. AAPG Bull., v.76, no.11, 1778-1803.

Courteney, S., 1995, The future hydrocarbon potential of Western Indonesia. Program and Abstracts of


AHS 95

FIGURE 1 - Location of study area and regional setting of the Barito Basin.





Structural map of the Tanjung Rap area, Northeast Barito Basin. Note the asf. similar strike alignment of the Tanjung Rap area and the Northern M s i s





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Isochron map showing depositional thins and thicks of the Tanjung Formation, interpreted to conceal palmanticlines and palm-synclines, respectively, Note that oil fields and oil wells with Lower Tanjung objectives are associated with depositional thin areas.







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Structural restoration of the Tanjung Field, Northeast Barito Basin, showing that the field started to form as a paleo-structure in the latest Eocene time, growing larger and ultimately became inverted in the Neogene.