Characterisation of carbonate systems has traditionally focused on outcrop analogue studies to derive conceptual models that explain patterns of carbonate platform growth and diagenetic modification. However, delivery of these often qualitative, static descriptions inhibits the derivation of transferrable rules to explain observed platform architecture, facies mosiacs and diagenetic overprint. Ultimately, this has limited our ability to understand and predict the distribution of porosity and permeability in carbonate systems.
Recent advances in the multi-scale quantification of carbonate geobodies have delivered increasingly robust descriptions of depositional and diagenetic products. However, our understanding of the processes that control the size, shape and distribution of these products remains weak. It is only by unravelling how a particular structural, depositional or diagenetic element was derived that we can constrain both the controls on carbonate sedimentation, and the relative importance of this precursor architecture on porosity modification by subsequent diagenesis and deformation. Once the volume, geometry and connectivity of the resultant pore network is characterised, then a step-change towards inter-well permeability prediction can be made.
Such an approach is ambitious, and requires combined expertise in carbonate sedimentology and diagenesis, basin analysis and structural deformation, geochemistry and petrophysics. By integrating world-class field and laboratory expertise in these disciplines with state-of-the-art process-based forward modelling, this proposal aims to provide such a framework. Ultimately, the program aims to initiate a step-change in our ability to predict carbonate reservoir geometry through the deployment of quantitative databases of carbonate products, forward and 3D geocellular models and rules-sets.