The Eastern Venezuela basin (EVB) is a record of a typical Wilson Cycle that started with the Jurassic rifting, followed by a Cretaceous to Paleogene passive margin developments, and culminated with a Neogene foreland. The basin is genetically connected with the Guyana Basin located to the southeast along the Atlantic margin. Onshore, the EVB is bound by the Guayana Shield to the south and the Serrania Oriental to the north - a product of the oblique convergence of the Southeastern edge of the Caribbean plate. A world-class Cretaceous source rock, Querecual Formation, is a foundation for a prolific petroleum system in the EVB. This formation marks the main anoxia event that extends to Trinidad and Guyana (Naparima Hill, and Canje). This genetic relationship provides a geological baseline for analyzing the critical risk factors in play assessments in the region.

Companies carried out exploration activities in the Eastern Venezuelan basin for more than 100 years estimating remaining recoverable reserves of around 20 billion barrels of hydrocarbons, plus 267 billion barrels of extra heavies at the Orinoco Oil Belt. Multiple plays were identified in the EVB. The latest major play was discovered in the 1980s, the thrust fold related Furrial trend added more than 5 billion BOE of recoverable light oil.  It was before modern technologies, and play-based exploration methodologies were developed. Towards the east, the passive margin expands from Cretaceous to Recent and extends beyond the Orinoco delta towards the Guyana basin to the southeast. Twenty years of regional geologic studies led to the cluster of discoveries in Guyana and Suriname, starting with the Liza discovery in 2015. It opened a deep-waterplay extending along the passive margin towards the Orinoco delta area. 

The tectonic and stratigraphic evolution of Northeastern South America has a complex geologic record from Paleozoic to the Present with documented Paleozoic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Neogene petroleum systems. In that sense, Northeastern South America should be analyzed as a conjugate to the MSGBC (Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Guinea Conakry) basins. This paper integrates and analyses the recent publications, knowledge of the explorationists of the margin accumulated over the last three decades.  We review petroleum systems of the EVB and the Guyana basins and analyze the extent and critical risks of the documented, and possible exploration plays along the margin.

This paper will be presented in ICE AAPG Cartagena 2022, Colombia.