During the past decades, investigation of unconventional gas resources has become a significant area due to its promising outlook of meeting the future energy needs. When the unconventional gas resources, especially those in frontier basins, expose a set of challenging issues that both knowledge and practice are very limited, basin analog analysis has been employed for preliminary assessments of frontier plays.

For basin analog, it compares a comprehensive spectrum of features between the target basin and reference basin, and this process involves large-volume data with broad value ranges. To rapidly and effectively evaluating the unconventional hydrocarbon resource potential in frontier basins (i.e., the target basins), basin analog approach has been proposed since 2008, in combination with a database populated with well-characterized geologic and petroleum systems information of North America basins that have significant unconventional resource development (i.e., the reference basins). The continuing investigation has been based on the public literature, and it is noted that data of many petroleum systems are incomplete that cannot cover the entire comprehensive parameters. This problem is inherently typical of the unconventional basins: many unconventional petroleum systems are newly developed and the characterization data are unavailable; or the unconventional basins, especially for the frontier basins, are exploratory with many plays undeveloped or in the very early development stage. Another major problem in analyzing basin analog is that parameters are usually multi-valued due to the wide range of petroleum systems.

In this paper, we analyzed the previous approaches of basin analog analysis and proposed an improved solution to the problems. The improved method is based on extracting the characterized parameter distributions in basin scale, and compares distributions by using probability theory and information theory. This method can not only solve the incomplete analog and multi-value comparison problems to achieve more accurate results, but also directly reflect the quantified distributions of different parameters in multiple basins simultaneously. Also discussed are validation of the analogous relationships by basin resource distributions and the further usage of the improved basin analog analysis for estimating unconventional resource volumes in frontier basins.

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