Offshore Argentina: Lessons from previous exploration
Argentina’s Energy and Mining Ministry is in advanced preparations to stage a new offshore licensing round in 2018 — the first in almost a decade. Despite its size (approximately 1.5 million km2, equivalent in scale to the US Gulf of Mexico) and its moderate water depths, there have only been approximately 150 exploration wells drilled to date, making it one of the least explored Atlantic provinces. The Argentine margin is underlain by a series of eight diachronously rifted basins (Figure 1) associated with the opening of the South Atlantic. Of these, only two (Austral and San Jorge) have been extensively explored, and five (Salado, Colorado, Rawson, San Julian, and Malvinas) have been drilled with limited success. The final basin — the Argentina Basin (sometimes referred to as the East Patagonia Basin) — is the only deepwater basin and remains undrilled. Exploration frontiers with proven petroleum systems and strong analogues such as the Argentine offshore are rare, driving strong industry interest in the area. This is further stimulated by recent success around the Atlantic margins to the north in Brazil and Guyana, in West Africa, and in the UK-administered North Falkland Basin. Despite being an underexplored province, there is a variety of publicly available legacy data for the Argentine margin (Figure 1). Available data for offshore Argentina include gravity and magnetics, seismic, well data, rock property information, and geochemistry data — all of which can be augmented by additional datasets from local and Atlantic margin analogues. As demonstrated in this article, these data, when interpreted in the context of a robust sequence stratigraphic and geodynamic framework, can provide new insight into basin evolution, play types, and hydrocarbon prospectivity.