Trap analysis is inherently a three-dimensional problem involving fault geometry, stratigraphy, and seal integrity. The complex interplay of these elements can make it very difficult to understand and visualize the controls on column height – even for a trap analysis expert. Compounding the issue is the uncertainty associated with reservoir distribution, fault offset and seal thickness. Despite the often equivocal nature of the input, fault seal analysis in the industry has historically been done in a deterministic manner with some attempt at varying the stratigraphic model to give low, medium and high cases. Further, the calculation of fault sealing potential has commonly been done on a per fault basis rather than within the greater context of a trap framework. There are, of course, vendor products and practitioners that address column height prediction in an integrated and perhaps stochastic fashion. However, it could be argued that these practices have created a perception that fault seal analysis is a black box affair, which is often perceived as an ‘art’ rather than a rigorous investigation.


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