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Sequence Stratigraphic Controls on Deepwater Reservoirs Architecture: Brushy Canyon Formation, Permian Basin (West Texas and New Mexico, USA)

Course Code: N526
Instructors:  Vitor Abreu
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
5 days


The Guadalupe and Delaware mountains in west Texas and New Mexico show unique, world-class exposures of shelfal to slope and basinal settings with seismic-scale, continuous exposures. These exceptional outcrops are ideal to learn about depositional systems, lateral and vertical variations in facies and sequence stratigraphic architecture and surfaces. Coeval shelfal to deepwater environments are exposed both downdip and along strike, with clear stratigraphic relationships from a carbonate shelf margin incised by canyons, feeding confined to weakly confined channel systems, connected to distributive lobe complexes and distal fan fringe sandstones that thin and pinch out onto a basin margin far removed from siliciclastic sediment sources. At the end of this course, participants should have improved abilities to recognize deepwater depositional facies and reservoir architecture, as well as how to use sequence stratigraphy to identify and map key surfaces for deepwater exploration.

Business impact: Participation in this course will aid in the de-risking of costly exploration projects, for example by assessing reservoir presence risk, net-to-gross predictions and reservoir connectivity. Since vertical scales of 10 to 20 meters are often below seismic resolution, it is difficult to predict facies variations occurring in distances of 1 to 2 kilometers, which are common well-spacings in deepwater reservoir production. Seismic-scale outcrops like the ones from the Brushy Canyon Formation help fill this gap in showing lateral and vertical variations in facies at scales that are not represented by data using conventional, industry seismic and wells. 

Duration and Training Method

This is a field course, supported by classroom lectures. Almost every field stop includes exercises that illustrate and reinforce the key concepts and methods discussed in lectures and documented in the course notes.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Understand the sequence stratigraphic controls on deepwater reservoirs
  2. Define the architecture of the main archetypes of deepwater reservoirs.
  3. Discuss how to explore for, develop and produce deepwater reservoirs.
  4. Relate depositional facies from outcrop to seismic-scale geometries and the overall sequence stratigraphy framework.
  5. Apply Walter’s Law and chronostratigraphic principles in core, well-log and seismic interpretation, and relate these principles to prediction of play elements and the best productive intervals for conventional and unconventional resources.
  6. Analyze outcrop exposures of carbonate shelf, ramp, and siliciclastic basinal systems.
  7. Establish similarities between world-class outcrop exposures to productive intervals in the Permian Basin.
  8. Analyze sequence stratigraphy for carbonates and mixed carbonate-clastic depositional systems.
  9. Assess changes in carbonate facies and relate these changes to depositional environments.


Day 0: Introductory Meeting

  • Arrive El Paso, Texas
  • Introductions, field safety discussion, and overview of the school 
  • Overnight: Van Horn, Texas

Day 1: Overview of Permian Basin Geology & Petroleum System

  • Lectures on sequence stratigraphy
  • Distal Delaware
  • West Face - Basin Overview
  • Overnight: Carlsbad, New Mexico

Day 2: Outcrop Examples of Seismic-Scale Geologic Features, Stratal Geometries, and Sequence Stratigraphic Frameworks

  • Morning Lecture
  • Williams Ranch
  • Overnight: Carlsbad, New Mexico

Day 3: Sedimentology of Mixed Carbonate-Clastic Depositional Systems

  • Morning Lecture
  • Last Chance Canyon
  • Overnight: Carlsbad, New Mexico

Day 4: Implications for How Seismic and Outcrop Datasets Influence Depositional Models

  • Morning Lecture
  • Slaughter Canyon
  • Walnut Canyon
  • Carlsbad Cavern
  • Overnight: Carlsbad, New Mexico

Day 5: Diagenesis, Dolomitization, and How Diagenetic Changes Impact Reservoir Quality

  • Morning Lecture
  • Channel Road Cut
  • Salt Flat Overview
  • Return to El Paso

This field course is designed for geoscientists and engineers exploring, appraising, and developing deepwater reservoirs globally, and particularly in the Permian Basin.

Vitor Abreu

Vitor Abreu has 28 years of experience in the oil industry in petroleum exploration, development production and research, with a proven record in evaluating, risking and/or drilling in 22 countries and 31 sedimentary basins in the 6 continents. His areas of expertise include projects in exploration, development and production of deep water reservoirs, regional studies to define the petroleum system elements and key plays in frontier exploration, tectono-stratigraphic evolution of basins in different tectonic settings, maturing opportunities to drillable status, and play to prospect risking assessment. His experience in development and production includes several field studies in different depositional environments, with high-resolution stratigraphic interpretation integrated to engineering data to define reservoir connectivity and main baffles and barriers for effective field development plans. On research, Vitor is considered one of the world leaders on reservoir characterization of deep water systems, proposing new deep water models with strong impact in development and production.

Vitor has been an Adjunct Professor at Rice University since 1999, where he took responsibility for the course on Sequence Stratigraphy after Peter Vail’s retirement. He was the recipient of the Jules Braunstein Memorial Award (best poster presenta-tion, 2002 AAPG Annual Meeting) and was appointed AAPG’s inaugural international Distinguished Instructor in 2006. He is the current President-Elect of SEPM and has been organizing and chairing technical sessions at annual meetings for both AAPG and SEPM. More than 1000 students globally have taken his short course on “Sequence Stratigraphy for Graduate Students” since 2000. This course has been taught at annual meetings, international meetings, universities, and companies around the world. Vitor is the chief editor of SEPM’s “Sequence Stratigraphy of Siliciclastic Systems”, which has sold more than 3000 copies since publication in 2010.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD Rice University - Geology & Geophysics
MSc Federal University of Rio Grande - Geology
BA Federal University of Rio Grande - Geology

Courses Taught

N410: Sequence Stratigraphy Applied to Exploration and Production
N442: Reservoir Architecture of Deep Water Systems (California, USA)
N468: Deep Water Reservoirs – Exploration Risking and Development Characterisation (Distance Learning)
N517: Well Log Sequence Stratigraphy for Exploration and Production (Distance Learning)
N518: Seismic Sequence Stratigraphy for Exploration and Production (Distance Learning)
N526: Sequence Stratigraphic Controls on Deep-Water Reservoirs Architecture: Brushy Canyon Formation,Permian Basin (West Texas and New Mexico, USA)

CEU: 4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
RPS is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. We comply with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is recognised internationally as a standard of excellence in instructional practices.
We issue a Certificate of Attendance which verifies the number of training hours attended. Our courses are generally accepted by most professional licensing boards/associations towards continuing education credits. Please check with your licensing board to determine if the courses and certificate of attendance meet their specific criteria.