Intelligent basin evaluation, leading to identification of those basins with the greatest exploration potential, is a critically important element of the exploration process. This is especially true during times of crude price weakening, when finding costs take on somewhat greater significance. Proper basin choice is also one of the few ways in which you can gain a substantial advantage over the competition – your staff and technology are probably not much better than those of your major competitors, but it may be possible to explore a considerably more prospectize suite of basins. For these reasons, the basin selection process should be taken very seriously, with as much thought and effort going into it as into the other major segments of the exploration program.

This talk will discuss the factors that are important to basin evaluation, both geologic and nan-geologic. Non-geologic factors include not only political and economic issues, but company-specific elements that relate to company size, resource base, and operating philosophy. With geologic factors, the emphasis will be an identifying the relatively few that are critical and then predicting where those factors can be favorably combined. Modern basin classification concepts will be an aid here, especially in virgin basins.

The thesis will be advanced that, in developed basins, an entire data set is being generally ignored that could significantly improve the accuracy and quality of the basin-evaluation process. It appears that too often there is a tendency to seek out innovative exploration breakthroughs without first having utilized all the pertinent data available. In terms of cost-effectiveness and realistic results, putting these data to use may be more productive than searching for a breakthrough.

The paper will close with an example from South-east Asia of a simple but highly successful basin analysis exercise.

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