Influence of different probability based models on oil prospect exploration decision making: a case from southern Mexico
Petroleum exploration is a high risk business. In this paper, we apply several fundamental concepts of petroleum prospect probability evaluation, illustrating the topic with a case study from southern Mexico. Prospect is a small geographic area where geotechnical evidence predicts the probable economic existence of oil and/or gas. Risk assessment helps to estimate discovery probabilities before drilling. Several geologic chance factors, i.e., reservoir facies, pore volume, geologic structure, seal, source rock, migration and retention were rated to obtain prospect probabilities for the potential accumulation for zones A to D. Zone A is composed of Upper Jurassic rocks, and includes a real reservoir(s). Zones B to D are hypothetical but based on geological facts of the same geologic province. They are respectively composed of Cretaceous, Miocene and Pliocene rocks and located in the same geographic area of Zone A. Based on the prospect geological framework and its associated geologic chance factors, we defined and calculated the corresponding common factor as well as the individual probabilities, thereby allowing us to build a clear picture of discovery probabilities. Three models, representing contrasting source rock concepts generated a range of discovery probabilities for each zone (A to D). Our results show that the discovery ranking begins with Model 2, followed by Model 1, and lastly by Model 3. Using those probabilities results we defined the best geological scenario and point out what we believe are the most appropriate next steps for an improved, less risky exploratory effort.