To meet the global energy demand of the coming decades, the energy industry will need creative thinking that leads to the development of new energy sources. Unconventional gas resources, especially those in frontier basins, will play an important role in fulfilling future world energy needs. To develop unconventional gas resources, we must first identify their occurrences and quantify their potential. Basin analog assessment is a technique that can be used to rapidly and inexpensively identify and quantify potential unconventional gas resources. We have developed a basin analog methodology that is useful for rapidly and consistently evaluating the unconventional hydrocarbon resource potential in exploratory basins. The center of this approach is computer software, Basin Analog Systems Investigation (BASIN), which is used to identify analog basins. This software is linked to a database that includes geologic and petroleum systems information from intensely studied North America basins that contain well characterized conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources. To test BASIN, we selected 25 basins in North America that have a history of producing unconventional gas resources and began populating the database with critical data from these basins. These North American basins are “reference” basins that will be used to predict resources in other North American or international “target” or exploratory basins. The software identifies and numerically ranks reference basins that are most analogous to the target basin for the primary purpose of evaluating the potential unconventional resources in the target basin. We validated the software to demonstrate that it functions correctly, and we tested the validity of the process and the database. Accuracy of the results depends on the level of detail in the descriptions of geologic and petroleum systems. Finding a reference basin that is analogous to a frontier basin may provide critical insights into the frontier basin. Our method will help predict the unconventional hydrocarbon resource potential of frontier basins, guide exploration strategies, provide insights to reservoir characteristics, and help engineers make preliminary decisions concerning the best practices for drilling, completion, stimulation and production.

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