Most of the oil industry is polarized over the dominant sealing mechanism in fault-dependent traps. There are at least four theories used to explain column heights in these fields: 1) fault gouge, 2) juxtapostion, 3) cataclasis and cementation, and 4) geomechanics. Each of these fault seal camps has provided strong technical evidence for their preferred mechanism, but always seem unable to explain the glaring exception to the rule or to accommodate alternative paradigms. This dogmatic approach inhibits advancement of fault-seal technology and makes operations in joint ventures dificult. Recent work by Shell in the southern North Sea, however, suggests that a more unified approach to fault seal is more appropriate in order to explain obsewed column heights and get new prospects drilled.


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