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Petroleum geological activities in West Greenland in 2001

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Greenland petroleum geological activities at the Geological
Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) during 2001
were focused mainly on the preparation of the 2002
licensing round offshore West Greenland. Promotion of
the exploration opportunities in the licensing round area
between 63° and 68°N has played an important role
together with launching of new seismic and geological pro-
jects. Critical evaluation of the results from the Qulleq-1
well drilled in 2000 has continued in this context.
The Statoil group relinquished the eastern subarea of
the Fylla licence at the end of April 2000, making all the
Qulleq-1 data available for promotion purposes (see
Christiansen et al. 2001a). The entire remaining area was
relinquished by the end of the year. However, as part of
outstanding working commitments, the Statoil group
acquired approximately 1000 km of new seismic data,
mainly from the western part of the licence area. These
data have proven to be of great interest for companies
evaluating West Greenland (see below). The Phillips
group relinquished the entire Sisimiut-West licence area
by the end of the year, without entering the next phase
of exploration which called for a firm commitment well.
The seismic company TGS-NOPEC extended its activ-
ities from 1999 and 2000 with the acquisition of two
regional non-exclusive surveys, GreenCan2001 and
Green2001. The first is a regional joint-venture pro-
gramme between TGS-NOPEC and the Bureau of Minerals
and Petroleum (BMP), Government of Greenland; the sec-
ond is a conventional speculative survey, mainly in the
northern open-door area (see below).
Several Survey projects relevant to petroleum explo-
ration in West Greenland were finalised in 2001. A study
of the Palaeogene succession, combining seismic
sequence stratigraphy, sedimentological reinterpretation
of petrophysical logs, new biostratigraphy and facies
analysis in a sequence stratigraphic framework, is sum-
marised in a paper by Dalhoff et al. (2002, this volume).
A seismic study of the Palaeogene volcanic rocks from
the region west of Disko is also summarised in a sepa-
rate paper in this volume (Skaarup 2002). Furthermore,
a study of potential geohazards in West Greenland, that
included a systematic interpretation and mapping of the
Neogene succession, was completed (see below).
Two important petroleum geological projects were
initiated at GEUS in 2001. One concerns biostratigraphic
correlation of the offshore wells from West Greenland
and the shelf offshore Labrador, Canada; the other is a
regional correlation study of mid-Cretaceous source rocks
and oils from West Greenland and North America (see
The 2002 licensing round
The 2002 licensing round offshore West Greenland cov-
ers the entire area between 63°N and 68°N and thus
includes the former Fylla and Sisimiut-West licensing
areas. A major effort promoting the petroleum explo-
ration potential has been carried out by BMP in close
co-operation with GEUS, the Greenland­Danish national
oil company Nunaoil and the owners of major seismic
surveys (principally TGS-NOPEC). Numerous presen-
tations on the geology of West Greenland have been
given during 2001 at petroleum-related meetings and
conferences (Bojesen-Koefoed et al. 2001a; Chalmers
& Oakey 2001; Chalmers et al. 2001a; Christiansen et al.
2001b; Dam et al. 2001; Middleton et al. 2001; Oakey
& Chalmers 2001; Rasmussen & Sheldon 2001; Sønder-
holm et al. 2001). Presentations have also been given
to a large number of companies both at their own
offices in Europe, Canada and the United States and at
the Survey's headquarters in Copenhagen.
All relevant information relating to petroleum explo-
ration in West Greenland has been made available on
the internet on a newly developed portal: GhexisOnline
(www.geus.dk/ghexis). On this site, information on the
West Greenland licensing round, geology (including
prospectivity, source rocks and maturity, and play types),
available data types (well data, seismic data, source
rock data, cultural data, etc.), operational conditions,
exploration history and relevant literature can be found,
together with online versions of the GHEXIS Newsletter.
Petroleum geological activities in West Greenland in 2001
Flemming G. Christiansen, Jørgen A. Bojesen-Koefoed, James A. Chalmers, Finn Dalhoff, Christian
Marcussen,Tove Nielsen, Henrik Nøhr-Hansen and Martin Sønderholm
Geology of Greenland Survey Bulletin 191, 84­89 (2002) © GEUS, 2002
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 84
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200 km
60 N
55 N
2 4
2 4
2 6
2 6
2 6
2 6
2 6
0 1
. 0 7
- 0 5
8 - M
2 5
2 5
2 4
2 7
2 5
2 5
2 7
2 5
2 5
2 7
2 6
2 4
2 4
2 7
2 5
2 6
2 1
2 1
2 5
2 6
2 7
va FZ
Ikermiut FZ
Basement outcrop or shallow shelf
Ordovician sediment outcrop
Mesozoic basin
Palaeogene basalts
Possible oceanic/serpentinite crust
Transition zone
Palaeogene oceanic crust
Unknown crustal type
Transform fault
Extinct spreading centre
Relinquished licences
2002 licensing round area
250 km
Fig. 1. Map of West Greenland showing main structural elements, sedimentary basins and position of seismic surveys
mentioned in text. SB: Sisimiut Basin, LFB: Lady Franklin Basin, FZ: Fault Zone. Two offshore licences were relin-
quished in 2001: the Fylla licence (Statoil Group) to the south and the Sisimiut-West licence (Phillips Group) to the
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 85
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Seismic acquisition during summer
2001 ­ the search for the deep basins in
the boundary zone between Canada
and Greenland
The development of the continental margins of the
Labrador Sea is still relatively poorly known due to a
limited seismic and geophysical database. The literature
and data have recently been reviewed in detail by
Chalmers & Pulvertaft (2001). A plate-tectonic recon-
struction project has also been initiated in a collabora-
tion between GEUS and the Geological Survey of Canada
to increase the geotectonic knowledge of the region
(Chalmers & Oakey 2001; Oakey & Chalmers 2001).
In the year 2000, TGS-NOPEC acquired some high-
quality seismic lines along the Ungava Fault Zone in
the vicinity of the Greenland­Canada border (the SW2000
survey; Fig. 1). These data, in combination with re-
processed satellite gravity data, indicate that deep sed-
imentary basins that earlier had been recognised in the
Sisimiut Basin are more extensive than previously
believed (Chalmers et al. 2001b; Christiansen et al. 2001a).
Better mapping of the distribution and internal features
of these sedimentary basins may have a significant influ-
ence on petroleum exploration concepts in the region.
Source rocks older than those already known from the
Paleocene, and inferred mid-Cretaceous, may be pre-
sent in a system of basins along the boundary zone
between Greenland and Canada. This is expected to lead
to completely new exploration models, both within the
deep basins themselves and, due to the possibility of
long-distance migration, in the surrounding shallower
basin areas.
In order to follow the deeper basins along the Ungava
Fault Zone northwards and to outline and study poten-
tial kitchens for petroleum generation in the Lady
Franklin Basin, the GreenCan2001 survey was acquired
during summer 2001 (Fig. 1). A tie-line connecting the
Greenland Qulleq-1 well and the Canadian Gjoa G-37,
Ralegh N-18 and Hekja O-71 wells was acquired (Fig. 1).
This line is important both for tectonic reconstructions
and for biostratigraphic/organic geochemical correla-
tions. The survey, which is a regional joint-venture pro-
ject between TGS-NOPEC and BMP, with GEUS as
technical advisor, resulted in a total of 2829 km of seis-
mic data; of these, 1213 km were acquired in Greenland
waters and 1616 km in Canadian waters (Fig. 1).
In addition, TGS-NOPEC acquired the Green2001
survey in the northern open-door area (Fig. 1). This sur-
vey was designed to follow possible deep basinal trends
from the Ungava Fault Zone towards the oil seep region
of Disko­Nuussuaq (Christiansen et al. 2000). In total,
904 km of seismic data were acquired.
Seismic acquisition in the western
Fylla area
In order to fulfil the remaining work obligations in the
Fylla licence, the Statoil group acquired 948 km of seis-
mic data, mainly in the western part of the licence
(Fylla2001-W survey; Fig. 1). Although there are some
problems in correlating the Cretaceous seismic units
across the main Fylla fault, there are good indications
from maturity modelling that the inferred Cenomanian­
Turonian source rock is thermally mature in this area
(Christiansen et al. 2001a, fig. 7). The survey was mainly
designed to map leads and prospects, either compara-
ble to the Santonian reservoir sandstones known from
the Qulleq-1 well, or to contemporaneous or younger
hanging-wall and basin floor fans just west of the main
Fylla fault. A preliminary inspection of data demon-
strates closures at several levels in the Cretaceous suc-
cession, primarily as roll-overs formed by later
compression along the main Fylla fault (Fig. 2).
With the relinquishment of the Fylla licence, this area
is open for licensing in the coming round. A large and
modern database is now available which provides
opportunities of mapping very large leads and prospects.
Fig. 2. Seismic lines from the Fylla2001-W survey showing clo-
sures at several levels in the Cretaceous succession, primarily as
roll-overs formed by later compression along the main Fylla fault.
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 86
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The results from the Qulleq-1 well demonstrate the
presence of good seals and reservoir rocks and a sig-
nificant untested up-dip potential (see Christiansen et al.
2001a). The main risk, until deeper stratigraphic suc-
cessions have been penetrated by drilling, is still veri-
fication of the presence of good oil-prone source rocks
and, in some areas, also thermal maturity.
Geohazard study
During 2001, a study of possible geohazards offshore
West Greenland was completed at GEUS in preparation
for the 2002 licensing round. Apart from mapping seabed
and sub-seabed geohazard features, the post mid-Eocene
succession was mapped for the first time using the most
important seismic units of regional to semi-regional
scale integrated with existing biostratigraphic and well-
log data. The mapped seabed geohazard features include
bathymetry, gradient, channels, canyons and iceberg
ploughmarks, seabed reflector amplitude anomalies,
hard bottom and possible `bottom simulating reflectors'
(BSRs), mass flow deposits and current-related features.
Sub-seabed features include buried channels and
canyons, buried mass flow deposits, diapiric features
and dewatering fractures (Fig. 3).
New stratigraphic and source rock
Two studies relevant for petroleum exploration were
initiated at the Survey in 2001: (1) a biostratigraphic cor-
relation study between West Greenland and Canada, and
(2) an organic geochemical project on mid-Cretaceous
source rocks and oils throughout the United States and
Canada in comparison with West Greenland.
The aim of the first project is to present a biostrati-
graphic correlation of the West Greenland wells, espe-
cially Ikermiut-1 and Qulleq-1 where Cretaceous
sediments are present (Nøhr-Hansen 1998; Nøhr-Hansen
et al. 2000), with selected Canadian wells on the Baffin
Island and Labrador shelves (Gjoa G-37, Ralegh N-18,
Hekja O-71, Skolp E-07 and Ogmund E-72).
The aim of the second project is to analyse and
describe marine oil-prone source rocks deposited dur-
ing the Cenomanian­Turonian anoxic event (e.g.
Schlanger & Jenkyns 1976; Hallam 1987), but also dur-
ing other periods in the Cretaceous and Palaeogene
(especially in the Aptian­Albian and in the Paleocene)
in order to erect models for source rock deposition and
prediction. The project focuses on a comparison of
source rocks and oils in West Greenland with the Arctic
basins in Canada and Alaska, the east coast basins of
Canada and the United States and basins from the
Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway (central Canada
and the United States). The provincialism of the fauna
and flora of the source rock units will also be addressed
in order to test palaeogeographic, palaeo-oceanographic
and palaeoclimatic models for the region. In particu-
lar, possible seaway connections in Cretaceous time
from central West Greenland towards the north (Sverdrup
Basin and other Arctic basins), west (Canadian Interior)
and south (Atlantic basins) are important for source
rock models.
Fig. 3. Map showing compilation of possible geohazard features
offshore West Greenland (see text for further details). BSR: bot-
tom simulating reflector.
100 km
Hard bottom/BSR ?
Diapiric features
Buried channels and canyons
Channels and canyons
Faults at seabed
Mass flow deposits
Contourite deposits
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 87
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Other petroleum geological work
Although the main focus in 2001 was on the West
Greenland 2002 licensing round, field work was also
carried out in East Greenland. A project on the post-
basaltic, Palaeogene and Neogene sediments in central
East Greenland was initiated (Larsen et al. 2002, this vol-
ume; Nøhr-Hansen & Piasecki 2002, this volume). These
sediments have received renewed interest as a result
of the recent exploration activities around the Faeroe
Islands. Lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy and sequence
stratigraphy studies will provide further insights into
basin evolution and uplift history of the northern North
Atlantic during Palaeogene time.
After almost 10 years of intensive field work in the
Disko­Nuussuaq region in West Greenland, many results
important for the evaluation of the exploration poten-
tial of the offshore areas are emerging. Although field
work was completed in 1999 (Christiansen et al. 2000),
several studies have been published in 2001, including
those on organic geochemistry of coals (Bojesen-Koefoed
et al. 2001b), sequence stratigraphy (Dam et al. 2001),
taxonomy (Nøhr-Hansen & Heilmann-Clausen 2001;
Nøhr-Hansen et al. in press) and discussions of the tec-
tonic history (Chalmers & Pulvertaft 2001). The last of
the planned 1:100 000 geological maps of the region
was also printed in 2001 (Pedersen et al. 2001). Many
other studies of basin history, sedimentological and
structural models, lithostratigraphy, organic geochem-
istry of seeps, etc. are in progress.
Funding of the biostratigraphic project Regional correlation of
Mesozoic­Paleogene sequences across the Greenland­Canada
boundary was provided by the Danish Energy Research Programme
(ENS J.nr. 1313/01-0022), the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum
(BMP), Government of Greenland, and Phillips Petroleum on
behalf of the Sisimiut-West licence group. Funding of the source
rock project Cretaceous source rocks, comparison between West
Greenland and relevant Canadian and US basins was provided
by BMP. The Geological Survey of Canada, the U. S. Geological
Survey, the Canada­Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board,
St. John's and the Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board have all
been very helpful in the selection and handling of sample mater-
ial for these two projects. Funding of the Geohazard project was
also provided by BMP.
Bojesen-Koefoed, J.A., Chalmers, J.A., Christiansen, F.G., Dalhoff,
F., Dam, G., Mathiesen, A., Nytoft, H.P., Pedersen, A.K.,
Petersen, H.I. & Rosenberg, P. 2001a: Petroleum in West
Greenland: the role of geochemistry and petrography in explo-
ration activities. 53rd meeting of the International Committee
for Coal and Organic Petrology, Copenhagen, Denmark, 12­19
August, 2001. TSOP/ICCP Session. Abstracts, 31­34.
Bojesen-Koefoed, J.A., Dam, G., Nytoft, H.P., Pedersen, G.K. &
Petersen, H.I. 2001b: Drowning of a nearshore peat-forming
environment, Atâne Formation (Cretaceous) at Asuk, West
Greenland: sedimentology, organic petrography and geo-
chemistry. Organic Geochemistry 32, 967­980.
Chalmers, J.A. & Oakey, G. 2001: Tectonic evolution of the
Labrador Sea and Baffin Bay. VNIGRI/AAPG Regional
International Conference, St. Petersburg, Russia, 15­18 July,
2001. Abstracts poster presentations, P6-4 only.
Chalmers, J.A. & Pulvertaft, T.C.R. 2001: Development of the con-
tinental margins of the Labrador Sea: a review. In: Wilson, R.C.L.
et al. (eds): Non-volcanic rifting of continental margins: a com-
parison of evidence from land and sea. Geological Society
Special Publication (London) 167, 77­105.
Chalmers, J.A., Christiansen, F.G., Bojesen-Koefoed, J.A., Dalhoff,
F., Nøhr-Hansen, H., Marcussen, C. & Sønderholm, M. 2001a:
Offshore West Greenland: basin geology, petroleum poten-
tial and exploration activity. GAC/MAC Annual Meeting, St.
John's, Newfoundland, Canada, 27­30 May, 2001. Abstract
volume 26, 25 only.
Chalmers, J.A., Christiansen, F.G., Sønderholm, M., Olsen, J.C.,
Myklebust, R. & Schønwandt, H.K. 2001b: Geological infor-
mation base growing on North Atlantic rift basins. Offshore
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Christiansen, F.G. et al. 2000: Petroleum geological activities in
West Greenland in 1999. Geology of Greenland Survey Bulletin
186, 88­96.
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Christiansen, F.G., Bojesen-Koefoed, J.A., Mathiesen, A. & Nytoft,
H.-P. 2001b: Potential petroleum systems in West Greenland:
information from onshore seep and source rock studies. VNI-
GRI/AAPG Regional International Conference, St. Petersburg,
Russia, 15­18 July, 2001. Abstracts poster presentations, P10-
3 only.
Dalhoff, F., Chalmers, J.A., Nøhr-Hansen, H., Rasmussen, J.A.,
Sheldon, E. & Gregersen, U. 2002: A multidisciplinary study
of the Palaeogene succession offshore southern West Green-
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Hamann, N.E., Nøhr-Hansen, H. & Pedersen, A.K. 2001: Geo-
logical evolution of the petroliferous Nuussuaq Basin: an out-
crop analogue for the Cretaceous­Palaeogene basins offshore
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GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 88
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Hallam, A. 1987: Mesozoic marine organic-rich shales. In: Brooks,
J. & Fleet, A.J. (eds): Marine petroleum source rocks. Geological
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Larsen, M., Piasecki, S. & Stemmerik, L. 2002: The post-basaltic
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Middleton, D.W.J., Parnell, J., Christiansen, F.G. & Zhou, J. 2001:
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Nøhr-Hansen, H. 1998: Dinoflagellate cyst stratigraphy of the
Upper Cretaceous to Paleogene strata from the Hellefisk-1,
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søgelse Rapport 1998/54, 58 pp.
Nøhr-Hansen, H. & Heilmann-Clausen, C. 2001: Cerodinium
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Nøhr-Hansen, H., Piasecki, S., Rasmussen, J.A. & Sheldon, E.
2000: Biostratigraphy of well 6354/4-1 (Qulleq-1), West
Greenland. Danmarks og Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse
Rapport 2000/101, 81 pp.
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stratigraphic scheme for the Paleocene onshore West Greenland
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Abstract volume 26, 109 only.
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Denmark and Greenland.
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May, 2001. Abstract volume 26, 123 only.
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Authors' address
Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark. E-mail: fgc@geus.dk
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Review of Greenland Activities 2001, pp 84-89