The Bonaparte Gulf Basin Province (USGS #3910) of northern Australia contains three important hydrocarbon source-rock intervals. The oldest source-rock interval and associated reservoir rocks is the Milligans-Carboniferous, Permian petroleum system. This petroleum system is located at the southern end of Joseph Bonaparte Gulf and includes both onshore and offshore areas within a northwest to southeast trending Paleozoic rift that was initiated in the Devonian. The Milligans Formation is a Carboniferous marine shale that sources accumulations of both oil and gas in Carboniferous and Permian deltaic, marine shelf carbonate, and shallow to deep marine sandstones.
The second petroleum system in the Paleozoic rift is the Keyling, Hyland Bay-Permian. Source rocks include Lower Permian Keyling Formation delta-plain coals and marginal marine shales combined with Upper Permian Hyland Bay Formation prodelta shales. These source-rock intervals provide gas and condensate for fluvial, deltaic, and shallow marine sandstone reservoirs primarily within several members of the Hyland Bay Formation. The Keyling, Hyland Bay-Permian petroleum system is located in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, north of the Milligans-Carboniferous, Permian petroleum system, and may extend northwest under the Vulcan graben sub-basin.
The third and youngest petroleum system is the Jurassic, Early Cretaceous-Mesozoic system that is located seaward of Joseph Bonaparte Gulf on the Australian continental shelf, and trends southwest-northeast. Source-rock intervals in the Vulcan graben sub-basin include deltaic mudstones of the Middle Jurassic Plover Formation and organic-rich marine shales of the Upper Jurassic Vulcan Formation and Lower Cretaceous Echuca Shoals Formation. These intervals produce gas, oil, and condensate that accumulates in, shallow- to deep-marine sandstone reservoirs of the Challis and Vulcan Formations of Jurassic to Cretaceous age. Organic-rich, marginal marine claystones and coals of the Plover Formation (Lower to Upper Jurassic), combined with marine claystones of the Flamingo Group and Darwin Formation (Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous) comprise the source rocks for the remaining area of the system. These claystones and coals source oil, gas, and condensate accumulations in reservoirs of continental to marine sandstones of the Plover Formation and Flamingo Group.
Shales of the regionally distributed Lower Cretaceous Bathurst Island Group and intraformational shales act as seals for hydrocarbons trapped in anticlines and fault blocks, which are the major traps of the province.
Production in the Bonaparte Gulf Basin Province began in 1986 using floating production facilities, and had been limited to three offshore fields located in the Vulcan graben sub-basin. Cumulative production from these fields totaled more than 124 million barrels of oil before the facilities were removed after production fell substantially in 1995. Production began in 1998 from three offshore wells in the Zone of Cooperation through floating production facilities. After forty years of exploration, a new infrastructure of pipelines and facilities are planned to tap already discovered offshore reserves and to support additional development.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Total petroleum systems of the Bonaparte Gulf Basin area, Australia; Jurassic, Early Cretaceous-Mesozoic; Keyling, Hyland Bay-Permian; Milligans-Carboniferous, Permian
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey,