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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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Case study: Seismic acquisition research on salt dome structure in Tarim Basin

the salt beds. In the area, the embedding depth of salt beds is about 4000~5500m, and the depth of petroleum and natural gas is 5000~6000m. The main part of the salt dome structure is just in the position of the mountain areas. Because the action of push-up tensile stress caused by the salt dome, a large amount of cracks and faults in the overburden of the salt dome are produced. 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. 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. Considering the difficulties in exploration in this area, firstly, we try to solve the static corrections by implementing delicate near-surface structure survey, establishing the accurate near-surface velocity model and doing fine statics computation; secondly, 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; thirdly, 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, so the quality of the raw seismic data gets improved. The techniques applied in the seismic acquisition research are as follows: 1. Delicate near-surface survey and statics

Tomography exploration on the near-surface is practiced. The near-surface velocity model is inversed by the Fathom software so as to get a higher inversion accuracy. Comprehensive near-surface structure model building. According to the characteristics of the near-surface structures, the different near-surface structure models are established by different methods. In swamp, Gobi and desert areas, the linear interpolation method is applied to interpolate the velocity field of the low-velocity layers and top interface of the high-velocity layer, while in mountain areas, besides what is applied above, the similarity coefficient method is also practiced to interpolate the thickness of the weathered layer. Optimization of static correction method The quantities of the statics are calculated with four kinds of methods, i.e., elevation method, first break refractionbased method, zonation based model-base method and tomographic method. The results of different statics correction methods are compared in shot gathers, receiver gathers and stacked sections to find out the most suitable method for the area. 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, and the best is from tomographic method (Fig.2).

Comprehensive near-surface surveys Flexible refraction survey methods are applied according to different near-surface conditions. We apply the spread length of 198m in refraction survey in swamp or Gobi desert area where the relatively thin weathered layers are covered, but in the refraction exploration of the Gobi desert area with relatively thick weathered layers in front of the mountain, two spread lengths of 656m and 198m are adopted. The former is for refraction survey, the latter is for tracing survey. The depth and the distribution points of uphole surveys are enlarged in mountain areas. Within the strip of mountain bodies by the size of 5500m long and 400m wide, 13 uphole surveys are all drilled to the depth of 80m so that the high velocity layers are reached in every uphole survey. Detailed outcrop survey is carried out. 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.
Fig.2: Effect of statics in CMP gathers (a: Original. b: first break refraction-based method. c: model-based method. d: tomographic method)

2.

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, the careful analysis of the issue about how to observe the reflecting waves from the salt domes is conducted. It is decided that the acquisition software KLSeis2.0, which is developed by BGP, is adopted, and the

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Case study: Seismic acquisition research on salt dome structure in Tarim Basin

layout should be small group interval, multiple channels, long spread and suitable folds. The parameters of the layout are as follows: x group interval: 20m x Shotpoint spacing: 40/80m x receiver number: 592 x Layout: 6010-110-20-110,6010 x folds: 74 x Array pattern: 3 string * 10 geophones,areal array with triangle pattern ,a string of geophone is stretched in lateral direction. x Array length: Lx = 9m, Ly = 36m x Geophone separation: x = 3m, y = 4m On the two flanks of a structure, the layout is changed into 4490-110-20-110-7530 manner, 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. 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; The long spread is helpful to the receiving of reflection signals from deep layers; In data processing, the noise along the line can be reduced by trace arrays, and the folds can be enhanced by the arrays of the CMP gathers. All of these measures can effectively improve the S/N of the data from shallow layers, the top of the salt domes and the deep layers. 3. Techniques of shot hole deep to high velocity layers in mountain areas

of reflection from salt dome structures. 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, four kinds of measures in our acquisition research are adopted: 1) Change the circulation manner, provide proper mud, and enhance the capacity of seismic drilling rig from drilling depth of 30m to more than 80m, which breaks through the past record level of seismic drilling depth in the mountain areas of Tarim basin. 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. 3) Select the proper place where the shot hole can be drilled into high-velocity layers. However, the displacement of the shot point should be within a reasonable range. 4) Use the appropriate explosive with high density to guarantee the effective coupling between the explosive and the surrounding rock in the shot hole, and to improve the effect of explosions as well as to reduce the length of explosive bar and the depth of shot hole. Disscussion about the seismic sections It is the application of the techniques such as delicate nearsurface surveys, statics, the layout aimed at middle and deep layers, and the single shot holes deep into highvelocity layers, in addition to strict field operation monitoring and quality control management, that makes a successful seismic acquisition research, through which the quality of the seismic sections get improved materially. Fig.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. Although the legacy stacked section is the final processing result, the S/N in shallow, middle and deep part of the section is very low, and the outlines of the salt domes and the sub-salt structures are quite obscure. In the new section, however, the overall quality has remarkably been improved, the outlines of salt domes and the reflection of the sub-salt strata are quite clear, and the sub-salt anticline structures are displayed obviously. 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. Fig.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. It can be seen from Fig.4 that both the S/N and the

In research area, the salt domes all exit under the compex mountain areas where the thickness of the weathered layers is significant. So, the past seismic acquisitions were all implemented with the array of shallow shot holes within the weathered layers. Because the S/N of the single shot in a shallow shot hole is very low, reflection signals are disordered or even there is no reflection at all in the past seismic sections. During the acquisition research at this time, a large amount of shot experiments are carried out in the mountain areas, and the results show that the reflection signals from shallow, 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, and the reflection signals from the bottom of salt domes and the sub-salt strata are intensified obviously, their S/N is much higher than that within the records resulted from the array of shot holes in the low-velocity layers; 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. Therefore, 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

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Case study: Seismic acquisition research on salt dome structure in Tarim Basin

resolution of the new section have been greatly improved. The reliable reflection images show up clearly in the places of the section where no reflection exists in the legacy section. The outlines of the salt domes and the features of the structure are clear. The sub-salt structures get further affirmed in the new section.

(a) Stacked section of research line 02B processed at site

astacked section of research line 02A processed at site

(b) The final stacked section of the legacy section parallel to line 02A Fig.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.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. In order to realize this object, we follow the strategy from the outside to the inside, from the point to the line. The research starts from the statics of complex near-surface, and next is the improvement of excited conditions and the optimization of observing layouts. 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. To guarantee the application of the new acquisition techniques and strategies, adequate investment, advanced equipment and strict measures of quality control are always necessary. The configurations of the salt domes and the sub-salt structures are clear and reliable. The seismic sections reveal that the scale of the salt domes and the anticlines is quite

large, so the further work such as detailed data processing and exploration is worthy. 3D seismic exploration should be the best choice to locate the salt dome and the sub-salt structure exactly. Reference Li Qingzhong, 1993, Road Toward Precise Seismic Exploration, Petroleum Industry Press. Lu Jimeng, 1993, Principle of Seismic Exploration, Petroleum University Press. Yan Shixin et., 2000, Mountainous Geophysical Exploration Technology in Mountain Areas, Petroleum Industry Press. Acknowledgments We would like to thank Mr. Yang Juyong, Mr. Wan Weihua , Mr. Sun Jinzhong, Mr. Qian Yuping and Mr. Liu Xinwen for their great contribution to this paper.

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