Since late 1960’s, there are intensive exploration activities conducted off the coast of the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. The offshore region to the northwest of Borneo Island saw a heightened state of exploration activities for hydrocarbon following increasing demand for fossil fuel as a result of world industrialization. Miocene carbonate pinnacles are one of the target play types identified and chased within the Central Luconia geologic region. In those days the more obvious, mega size shallow carbonate build-ups which are considered as the “low laying fruits” became the first priority exploration test candidates. Some of the pinnacle build-ups are proven gas fields with few of them classified as “giant class” accumulations (Figure 1). Nevertheless, a lower than expected overall exploration success statistical trend coupled with low priority in the business strategy for gaseous hydrocarbon further compounded the issues which arrested the exploration initiatives. A “hiatus” in exploration activities ensued beginning in 1980’s. On the subsurface side, geologic assessments then identified hydraulic seal failure and “thief sand” as the probable contributing factors in the unsuccessful cases. Extremely high aquifer pressure combined with the hydrocarbon buoyancy effects thought to have breached the cap seal mechanical strength which caused capillary hydrocarbon leakages. The presence of post carbonate permeable sandy formation down lapping onto the pinnacle is the other identified geologic risk element. Inter-fingering of the sand and carbonate introduced leak point which provided drainage conduit diverting the hydrocarbon away. The incriminating “blown trap” theory was thence adopted loosely as an explanation to the situation. On the other hand apparent deeply buried pinnacles are intuitively associated with high formation pressure, temperature and non-hydrocarbon gas contaminants further added up the situation complexity. The anticipated drilling operation complications from such conditions are henceforth associated with potential high costs. These conditions summed up have led to premature condemnation of the remaining carbonate pinnacle play type potential in the region. There was absolutely no interest to further realize the hydrocarbon potential of the pinnacles since then. Recent works within the region re-evaluating the similar pinnacles have proved the contrary. The pre-conceived misconceptions of the play types were rectified and adoption of the findings proved very rewarding conclusions.


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