Institute of Applied Geoscience (IAG)
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Geoscience Seminar - A holistic approach to petroleum exploration in Papa New Guinea

Date: Friday 2nd June

Time: 11:00 to 12:00

Presenter: Dr John Warburton

Location: SEE Seminar Rooms, 8.119

This seminar is co-hosted with the AAPG Student Chapter.

Abstract: Exploration for petroleum commenced in PNG in the 1920’s spurred-on by numerous surface oil & gas seepages. Gas was first discovered in 1956. Nevertheless it would be 60 years before the first large scale export of LNG too place in May 2014. Proven Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous fluvial-deltaic and Tertiary carbonate reservoirs are prolific petroleum producers. When combined with the high quality liquid-rich nature of the gas and the onshore location this has resulted in PNG’s LNG projects being some of the lowest cost and most profitable LNG projects globally.  

Approximately 5 billion boe of recoverable resources have been discovered while an additional 7 billion boe of prospective resource remains yet to be found (‘YTF’). Extensive Common Risk Segment Mapping (‘CRS’) concludes the YTF resources reside in under-explored extensions of proven play fairways and in exploration frontiers. This presentation will describe the recent holistic approach by Oil Search Ltd to constrain the YTF resource. This is a fully integrated plate, structural, GDE, burial, maturation, migration, uplift and erosion model for PNG’s total petroleum system extending ~1,500km from onshore West Papua to the oceanic crust in the Papuan Gulf.

The talk describes a variety of clastic & carbonate petroleum systems & traps in complex onshore foldbelts, and in shallow and deep marine settings.

A new 4D charge model explains why young foldbelt traps (<300,000 years old) host oil & gas fields despite being approximately 90 my younger than the petroleum generation.


John Warburton graduated with BSc Honours in Geological Sciences from the University of Leeds, and holds a PhD in Structural Geology from Swansea University.

He has 34 years of international petroleum industry experience mostly with BP and Eni. John is currently Chief Geoscientist & General Manager Exploration Services at Oil Search Ltd based in Sydney.

John is an Independent Non-Executive Director of Senex Energy Ltd and of Imperial Oil & Gas Ltd (where he formerly served as Chief Executive Officer) and is a member of the External Advisory Board for Petroleum Leeds.