This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 202273, “Reservoir Characterization and Scenario-Based Modeling To Optimize Development Planning of the Jurassic Plover Formation in the Ichthys Field, North West Shelf of Australia,” by Kazuyuki Yamamoto, SPE, Shuji Yamamoto, and Toby Jones, INPEX, et al., prepared for the 2020 SPE Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, originally scheduled to be held in Perth, Australia, 20–22 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed.

The Plover Formation is one of two reservoirs in the Ichthys field of the Australian North West Shelf. The objective of this study is to build multiple scenario-based models to optimize development planning in preparation for the upcoming production phase. The authors have integrated data and interpretations of thin sections, cores, well logs, and seismic data to create multiple geological concepts for the field and to identify key geological uncertainties.


The Ichthys liquefied natural gas project is one of the world’s largest and involves the development of a gas-condensate field in the Browse Basin. The field is approximately 220 km offshore Western Australia and covers an area of approximately 800 km2 with an average water depth of approximately 250 m. The field is currently under preparation for the development of the Plover Formation. The authors conducted an integrated subsurface evaluation and built reservoir models with newly reprocessed 3D seismic data to optimize Plover development planning.

Considering the geological uncertainty given the limited production data gathered before the production phase, the multiple deterministic approach was selected as the best option to optimize development planning. In this approach, it is important to capture all geological scenarios that may occur in the field and to build reservoir models in which the scenario concepts are explicitly integrated. A multidisciplinary team was organized to conduct this study.

Geology of the Plover Formation

The Plover Formation consists of sandstones, shales, igneous rocks, and a minor amount of coal. The depositional environment is fluvial to shallow marine. The average thickness of the formation is approximately 360 m. Based on the stratigraphic correlation anchored by mainly palynological biostratigraphic data, the formation has been subdivided into five stratigraphic members. The formation is overlain by the Ichthys Formation, which is composed mainly of argillaceous sandstone and shale deposited in a tidally influenced, lower-delta-to-shelf environment. Although the nine existing exploration wells broadly cover the entire field, the spacing between the wells is still large (8–10 km). Further-more, core coverage is low, especially in the reservoir sandstone intervals. Igneous rock, predominantly basaltic in composition and likely extrusive in origin, occurs more in the eastern part of the field. Igneous activity has complicated the distribution and connectivity of the reservoir sandstones in the Ichthys field.

Key Geological Uncertainties

Rock Type (RT). The results of petrographic analysis of rock samples from the Ichthys field and other surrounding fields indicate that the sandstones of the Plover Formation can be separated into multiple RTs: RT1 and RT2, with RT1 subdivided into RT1a and RT1b. Very little data exist from RT2 in the fluvial/distributary channel sandstones in the Ichthys field in comparison with other fields; this is considered to be the result of limited core. The assumption that RT2 exists in the field is critical to prepare for the possibility that a future well may be drilled that might have some nontrivial quantity of RT2.

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