Various methods for assessing undiscovered oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquid resources were compared in support of the USGS World Petroleum Assessment 2000. Discovery process, linear fractal, parabolic fractal, engineering estimates, PETRIMES, Delphi, and the USGS 2000 methods were compared. Three comparisons of these methods were made in: (1) the Neuquen Basin province, Argentina (different assessors, same input data); (2) provinces in North Africa, Oman, and Yemen (same assessors, different methods); and (3) the Arabian Peninsula, Arabian (Persian) Gulf, and North Sea (different assessors, different methods). A fourth comparison (same assessors, same assessment methods but different geologic models), between results from structural and stratigraphic assessment units in the North Sea used only the USGS 2000 method, and hence compared the type of assessment unit rather than the method. In comparing methods, differences arise from inherent differences in assumptions regarding: (1) the underlying distribution of the parent field population (all fields, discovered and undiscovered), (2) the population of fields being estimated; that is, the entire parent distribution or the undiscovered resource distribution, (3) inclusion or exclusion of large outlier fields; (4) inclusion or exclusion of field (reserve) growth, (5) deterministic or probabilistic models, (6) data requirements, and (7) scale and time frame of the assessment. Discovery process, Delphi subjective consensus, and the USGS 2000 method yield comparable results because similar procedures are employed. In mature areas such as the Neuquen Basin province in Argentina, the linear and parabolic fractal and engineering methods were conservative compared to the other five methods and relative to new reserve additions there since 1995. The PETRIMES method gave the most optimistic estimates in the Neuquen Basin. In less mature areas, the linear fractal method yielded larger estimates relative to other methods. A geologically based model, such as one using the total petroleum system approach, is preferred in that it combines the elements of petroleum source, reservoir, trap and seal with the tectono-stratigraphic history of basin evolution with petroleum resource potential. Care must be taken to demonstrate that homogeneous populations in terms of geology, geologic risk, exploration, and discovery processes are used in the assessment process. The USGS 2000 method (7th Approximation Model, EMC computational program) is robust; that is, it can be used in both mature and immature areas, and provides comparable results when using different geologic models (e.g. stratigraphic or structural) with differing amounts of subdivisions, assessment units, within the total petroleum system. ?? 2005 International Association for Mathematical Geology.
Additional publication details
Comparison of methods used to estimate conventional undiscovered petroleum resources: World examples