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Abnormally high formation pressures in the Potwar Plateau of north-central Pakistan are major obstacles to oil and gas exploration. Severe drilling problems associated with high pressures have, in some cases, prevented adequate evaluation of reservoirs and significantly increased drilling costs. Previous investigations of abnormal pressure in the Potwar Plateau have only identified abnormal pressures in Neogene rocks. We have identified two distinct pressure regimes in this Himalayan foreland fold and thrust belt basin: one in Neogene rocks and another in pre-Neogene rocks. Pore pressures in Neogene rocks are as high as lithostatic and are interpreted to be due to tectonic compression and compaction disequilibrium associated with high rates of sedimentation. Pore pressure gradients in pre-Neogene rocks are generally less than those in Neogene rocks, commonly ranging from 0.5 to 0.7 psi/ft (11.3 to 15.8 kPa/m) and are most likely due to a combination of tectonic compression and hydrocarbon generation. The top of abnormally high pressure is highly variable and doesn't appear to be related to any specific lithologic seal. Consequently, attempts to predict the depth to the top of overpressure prior to drilling are precluded.
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Abnormally high formation pressures, Potwar Plateau, Pakistan