Tekst voor de cursus Grondstoffen en het Systeem Aarde (HD 698) H.E.Rondeel, december 2001

Teksten gebaseerd op: Blackbourn, G.A. (1990) Cores and core logging for geologists. Whittles Publ.,Caithness. 113 pp. Shauer Langstaff, C. & D. Morrill (1981) Geologic cross sections. IHRDC, Boston. 108 pp. Stoneley, R. (1995) An introduction to petroleum exploration for non-geologists. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 119 pp. Waples, D. (1981) Organic geochemistry for exploration geologists. Burgess Publ. Co., Mineapolis. 151 pp. Waples, D.W. (1985) Geochemistry in petroleum exploration. Reidel Publ. Co, Dordrecht & IHRDC, Boston. 232 pp.


1 - INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................................. 5 FORMATI0N OF 0IL AND GAS......................................................................................................... 5 2 - ORGANIC FACIES.......................................................................................................................... 6 THE CARBON CYCLE ....................................................................................................................... 6 FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANIC RICHNESS............................................................................ 7 PRODUCTIVITY .............................................................................................................................. 7 PRESERVATION.............................................................................................................................. 8 DILUTION ..................................................................................................................................... 11 SUMMARY ....................................................................................................................................... 12 3 - ORGANIC CHEMISTRY .............................................................................................................. 13 INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................................. 13 NAMES AND STRUCTURES........................................................................................................... 13 HYDROCARBONS ......................................................................................................................... 13 NONHYDROCARBONS ................................................................................................................. 15 4 - KEROGEN...................................................................................................................................... 17 INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................................. 17 KEROGEN FORMATION................................................................................................................. 17 KEROGEN COMPOSITION ............................................................................................................. 18 KEROGEN MATURATION .............................................................................................................. 20 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................... 20 EFFECTS OF MATURATION ON KEROGENS ............................................................................. 21 HYDROCARBON GENERATION................................................................................................... 22 SUMMARY ....................................................................................................................................... 23 5 - BITUMEN, PETROLEUM, AND NATURAL GAS...................................................................... 24 INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................................. 24 COMPOUNDS PRESENT IN BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM ......................................................... 24 GENERAL CLASSES OF COMPOUNDS ....................................................................................... 24 SPECIFIC COMPOUNDS.............................................................................................................. 25 FACTORS AFFECTING COMPOSITION OF BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM................................ 25 SOURCE AND DIAGENESIS ......................................................................................................... 25 RESERVOIR TRANSFORMATIONS ............................................................................................... 26 COMPARISON OF BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM ....................................................................... 27 NATURAL GAS .............................................................................................................................. 28 SUMMARY ....................................................................................................................................... 28 6 - MIGRATION.................................................................................................................................. 29 DEFINITIONS................................................................................................................................... 29 PRIMARY MIGRATION................................................................................................................... 29 MECHANISMS............................................................................................................................... 29 DISTANCE AND DIRECTION ....................................................................................................... 30 SECONDARY MIGRATION............................................................................................................. 31 MECHANISM................................................................................................................................. 31


DISTANCE AND DIRECTION ....................................................................................................... 31 ACCUMULATION............................................................................................................................ 32 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................... 32 CLASSICAL TRAPS........................................................................................................................ 33 KINETIC TRAPS ............................................................................................................................ 33 TAR-MAT TRAPS ........................................................................................................................... 34 GAS HYDRATES ............................................................................................................................ 34 EFFECTS ON OIL AND GAS COMPOSITION ................................................................................ 34 SIGNIFICANCE FOR EXPLORATION ............................................................................................ 35 7 - PETROLEUM TRAPS ................................................................................................................... 36 THE REPRESENTATION OF TRAPS .............................................................................................. 36 STRUCTURAL TRAPS ..................................................................................................................... 37 STRATIGRAPHIC TRAPS ................................................................................................................ 41 COMBINATION TRAPS................................................................................................................... 42 HYDRODYNAMIC TRAPS .............................................................................................................. 43 THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF TRAPS ................................................................................... 43 EXERCISES ...................................................................................................................................... 45 8 - SOURCE-ROCK EVALUATION.................................................................................................. 49 DEFINITION OF SOURCE ROCK.................................................................................................... 49 PRINCIPLES OF SOURCE-ROCK EVALUATION .......................................................................... 49 QUANTITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL .......................................................................................... 49 MATURITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL.......................................................................................... 49 CONTAMINATION AND WEATHERING....................................................................................... 52 ESTIMATION OF ORIGINAL SOURCE CAPACITY ...................................................................... 52 INTERPRETATION OF SOURCE-ROCK DATA ............................................................................. 53 QUANTITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL .......................................................................................... 53 TYPE OF ORGANIC MATTER....................................................................................................... 53 MATURITY..................................................................................................................................... 54 COALS AS SOURCE ROCKS ......................................................................................................... 54 SUMMARY ....................................................................................................................................... 55 EXERCISES ...................................................................................................................................... 56 9 - PREDICTING THERMAL MATURITY ...................................................................................... 60 INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................................. 60 CONSTRUCTION OF THE GEOLOGICAL MODEL ....................................................................... 60 BURIAL-HISTORY CURVES.......................................................................................................... 61 TEMPERATURE HISTORY............................................................................................................ 61 SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT BURIAL-HISTORY CURVES ............................................ 62 CALCULATION OF MATURITY..................................................................................................... 63 FACTORS AFFECTING THERMAL MATURITY............................................................................ 64 POTENTIAL PROBLEMS WITH MATURITY CALCULATIONS ..................................................... 65 EXERCISES ...................................................................................................................................... 66 10 - QUANTITATIVE ASSESSMENT ............................................................................................... 69 OIL IN PLACE .................................................................................................................................. 69 RESERVES........................................................................................................................................ 69 DISCOVERED RESERVES............................................................................................................. 70 UNDISCOVERED RESERVES ....................................................................................................... 72 ULTIMATE RESERVES.................................................................................................................. 73


These changes lead to a gradual cessation of microbial activity. with many details still poorly understood.5 1 . porosity and permeability decrease. In the late stages of catagenesis and in the final transformation stage. called methanogens. it is known that organic debris derived from plants and algae is best preserved in fine-grained sediments deposited in the absence of oxygen. more mobile molecules. Low-temperature chemical and biological reactions (called diagenesis) that occur during transport to and early burial in the depositional environment modify this organic matter. Once formed. and are called bitumen .Introduction FORMATI0N OF 0IL AND GAS Proponents of the organic origin of oil and gas have given us a general picture of how organic matter derived from dead plants is converted to hydrocarbons. Many of the chemical compounds present in sediments are in fact derived from bacteria. oil and gas molecules can be expelled from the source rock into more permeable carrier beds or conduits. Formation of biogenic methane has been recognized for a long time. the principal products consist of smaller gas molecules. are chemically distinct from each other. . but only within the last few years have we realized that in many areas a large portion of the natura!-gas reserves are biogenic. In recent years this relatively simple picture of hydrocarbon generation has been complicated slightly by our growing awareness that kerogens formed from different kinds of organic matter. and temperature increases. called catagenesis. thermal reactions become increasingly important. The earliest stage of hydrocarbon generation occurs during diagenesis. As burial depth increases. kerogen begins to decompose into smaller. These differences can have a significant effect on hydrocarbon generation. and were formed as dead organic matter was converted to microbial tissues. These play a key role as the precursors for oil and much natural gas. called metagenesis. or under different diagenetic conditions. As temperature rises. however. Although the transformation process is very complex. In the early stages of catagenesis most of the molecules produced from kerogen are still relatively large. the largest of which are called kerogen. and thus eventually bring organic diagenesis to a halt. these are the precursors for petroleum. Most of this organic matter is transformed during diagenesis info very large molecules. Migration through these conduits often leads to traps. convert some of the organic debris to biogenic methane. During this second transformation phase. where hydrocarbon movement ceases and accumulation occurs. Certain microorganisms.Organic Facies .

Organic Facies . Because of . less than 1% of the annual photosynthetic production escapes from the carbon cycle and is preserved in sediments. Despite the great imbalance in biomass between terrestrial plants (450 billion metric tons [t]) and aquatic phytoplankton (5 billion t). as a consequence of the much more rapid reproduction of simple aquatic organisms. Zooplankton and higher animals contribute relatively little organic matter to sediments. the yearly productivity of both groups is about equal. Most organic carbon is returned to the atmosphere through the carbon cycle. A large fraction.Organic Facies THE CARBON CYCLE Because oil and gas are generated from organic matter in sedimentary rocks. Preservation of organic matter begins with photosynthesis. Preservation of organic material is actually a rare event. Some of the organic material in sediments consists of fragments of plants or algae that derived their energy from the sun.6 2 . Oxidative decay of dead organic matter is a highly efficient process mediated largely by microorganisms. The recently discovered deep-sea ecosystems in the Pacific Ocean that derive their energy from oxidation of sulfides in hydrothermal vents are interesting but volumetrically unimportant. comprises microbial tissue formed within the sediments by the bacterial transformation of plant and algal debris. however. we need to understand how this organic matter came to be preserved in the rocks.

carbonate supply.1%. Each of these categories could in turn be further subdivided. suggesting that either depth or organiccarbon content eventually limits diagenesis. If this deeper water is enriched in nutrients.05%) occurs in economic deposits of fossil fuels. are therefore much more productive than the open ocean. Total Organic Carbon (TOC) values decrease monotonically through the first 300 meters of burial before levelling out at about 0. In the modern world there are zones of intense seasonal upwelling off the west coasts of California. where there is local recycling of nutrients from decaying organisms and influx of fresh nutrients from terrestrial sources. Depth could interfere with microbial diagenesis when compaction reduces pore sizes and nutrient fluxes in interstitial waters. Nutrient availability is. because without adequate productivity. Upwelling occurs where bulk movement of surface water away from a particular area allows deeper water to ascend to replace it. paleoclimate. In relatively unrestricted marine environments. only one molecule out of about every one million successfully negotiates the journey from living organism to the gasoline pump. and that the microbes have given up trying to digest it. and recycling by organic decay. predators. high photosynthetic productivity will occur at the site of upwelling. Productivity is the logical place to begin our analysis. Only where there is upwelling of subsurface waters can these nutrients return to the photic zone. Each factor may be dominant under different conditions. temperature. FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANIC RICHNESS In order for organic-rich rocks to be formed. watercirculation patterns are particularly important for supplying nutrients and thus controlling productivity. because under normal circumstances they cannot move upward into the zone of photosynthesis. On the other hand. nutrient availability would depend on such factors as water circulation patterns. Nutrients dissolved in waters below the photic zone therefore go unutilized. one of the critical parameters governing productivity.000 billion t. much of the terrestrial organic material is already highly oxidized when it arrives in the sediments. and dilution. the low TOC values could indicate that the remaining organic matter has no more nutritional value. volcanism. Namibia. For example. PRODUCTIVITY A partial listing of the many factors influencing productivity would include nutrient availability. Peru. Shallowmarine environments.Organic Facies . accumulation of organic-rich sediments cannot occur.7 extensive oxidation of land-plant debris in soils. Although some destruction of organic material occurs during transport to the depositional environment. There is another zone of seasonal upwelling off the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean as a result of . Although oxidative decay destroys most of the yearly production. and general water chemistry. When we consider inefficiencies in discovery and recovery. light intensity.000 billion t) dispersed in fine-grained sedimentary rocks. or about 0. orogeny and erosion. and Northwest Africa that result from the movement of surface waters away from these coasts. preservation. The three primary factors influencing the amount of organic matter in a sedimentary rock are productivity.000. with a preference for horizontal water movement within each density layer. over vast amounts of geologic time the small fraction that escaped the carbon cycle has built up extremely large quantities of organic matter (20. significant amounts of organic matter must be deposited and protected from diagenetic destruction. Bodies of water naturally develop density stratification. a great deal of the oxidation of organic matter occurs within the sediments themselves. Only a small fraction of this (10. however. in fact.

the type of organic matter deposited.2 mL/L is called the anoxic zone.2-0. because when the availability of oxygen is limited. much oxic sediment also contains large amounts of organic matter." hut because of the radical change in biota that occurs at about 0. At lower levels of dissolved oxygen. All these areas exhibit high productivity when upwelling occurs. and are usually limited in scope by the availability of sulfate or nitrate. if on the average only 1% of organic matter is preserved. microorganisms that utilize materials like sulfate or nitrate ions instead of molecular oxygen as electron acceptors in their metabolic processes. However. First. Anoxia is of tremendous importance in the preservation of organic matter in sediments. and paleoclimates. At dissolved oxygen levels below about 0. soils. Three factors affect the preservation (or destruction) of organic matter: the concentration and nature of oxidizing agents. wind and water circulation patterns. These anaerobic processes are inefficient compared with aerobic diagenesis. essentially the only viable organisms are those that we call anaerobes. Such models are interesting. The presence of undegraded marine organic material is a strong indication of anoxia. because marine organic matter is consumed preferentially by organisms. There are many more organic-rich facies resulting from excellent preservation than from extremely high productivity.Organic Facies . Of these. many species disappear. Because most of the oxidation occurring in the water column. however. and we could coin the term dysoxic to describe the zone itself. and may in fact prove useful in future exploration efforts. Anoxic sediments always contain elevated TOC values (generally above 2% and always above 1% ). some problems associated with their application. and all the other factors that influence upwelling loci is severely limited. oxidizing agents are probably the most crucial factor. preservation of organic matter will be much enhanced. its use in practice has been expanded to include very low oxygen levels as well.2 mL/L. Its presence in . the accuracy with which we can reconstruct continental positions. increasing preservation rates is a very efficient way to increase organic richness. Theoretical models have been developed to predict upwelling (and consequent productivity) in ancient seas from input data on continental configurations. We call the zone in which oxygen contents are high the oxic zone. the simplest way to limit oxidation is to limit the supply of oxygen. The term dysaerobic has been used to describe processes occurring in the transitional zone (0. because some of the commonly used indicators of anoxia may be misleading. and the sediment-accumulation rate. Processes that occur in these two zones are called aerobic and anaerobic. the remaining individuals often become dwarfed in an effort to survive in a hostile environment. and sediments is biological. paleoclimatic conditions. The term "anoxic" literally means "having no oxygen. diagenesis is restricted to anaerobic processes. and because most biological oxidation processes require molecular oxygen. ANOXIA.5 mL/L). Thus if anoxia can develop. There are. although some species can tolerate extremely low oxygen levels (0. Anoxic sediments are not always easy to recognize. respectively. the zone where oxygen falls below 0. especially in the Palaeozoic.8 monsoonal winds that drive surface waters away from the coast.2 mL/L. Secondly. especially of woody origin. TOC values alone must therefore be used with caution. productivity is probably not as important a factor as preservation. All large organisms require oxygen in order to live.5 milliliters (mL) per liter (L)). After all. PRESERVATION The principal control on organic richness is the efficiency of preservation of organic matter in sedimentary environments. landmasses.

and therefore that dissolved-oxygen levels were below 0. but limnic environments often are. Depths in excess of 200 m are required to prevent mixing during storms. Consumption of oxygen results from decay of dead organisms that have sunk from the photic zone above. The oxygen-minimum layer is a layer of subsurface water that has a lower dissolved-oxygen content than the water layers either above or below. The ultimate implications of anoxia for petroleum exploration are great. once the original oxygen has been consumed in oxidizing organic matter. Nevertheless. the presence of bioturbation indicates that the bottom waters were not anoxic. STAGNANT BASINS.Organic Facies . The laminae prove that burrowing fauna were absent. anoxic sediments show preserved depositional laminae on a millimeter or submillimeter scale.2 mL/L. Wyoming). it cannot represent an anoxic facies. and warm climates are necessary to avoid overturn caused by freeze-thaw cycles. Lakes in failed rifts can also contain organic-rich. and if the climate is subtropical or tropical. Lakes of the Rift Valley of East Africa are excellent modern analogs receiving much attention from both researchers and explorationists at the present time. anoxia can be very local. Color should be used mainly as a negative criterion: If a rock is not very. Therefore. although stunted burrows can be used as evidence of dysoxia. intense pyritization of benthic bivalves is testimony to the fact that pyrite is not a good indicator of bottom-water anoxia at the time of deposition. Conversely. Finally. Furthermore. in fact. leading to the eventual development of a pycnocline (density interface) which prevents interchange between the two layers. there is no guarantee that anoxia was present at the sea floor. This oxygen minimum develops when the rate of consumption of oxygen within that layer exceeds the rate of influx of oxygen to it. and strata from several basins in China. most likely by absence of oxygen. Among the ancient lake beds thought to have been deposited in permanently stratified waters are the well-known Green River Shale (middle Eocene. it may well have developed after burial. OXYGEN-MINIMUM LAYER (OML). however. Lake deposits associated with continental rifting.9 rocks therefore indicates that diagenesis was stopped prematurely. no more oxygen can enter. are not rich in organic carbon. and both the waters in the bottom layer and the underlying sediments will become anoxic. Many black rocks. Marine basins are seldom isolated enough to fit well into the stagnant-basin model. slow circulation or turnover of the water column occurs almost everywhere. The cooler. Color is not a reliable indicator. Nevada). very dark. especially during the Triassic along the margins of the developing Atlantic Ocean. they often owe their dark color to finely divided pyrite or to particular chert phases. and its presence indicates that the anaerobic reduction of sulfate ion did occur. The oxygen minimum layer usually begins immediately below the photic zone. Lack of communication between the layers prohibits replenishment of oxygen in the bottom layer. where photosynthesis and turbulence can no longer contribute oxygen to the water. it has been estimated. anoxic sediments. All anoxic sediments will be very dark gray or black when deposited. are anoxic in some of the places where they have been penetrated. particularly in understanding lacustrine beds. it is instructive to consider complete stagnation. then permanent density stratification will arise as a result of temperature differences within the water column. that most of the world's oil was generated from source beds deposited under anoxic conditions. Truly stagnant basins are actually quite rare. denser waters remain at the bottom. If an isolated body of water is deep enough. It therefore behoves us to understand the conditions under which anoxia develops. the Elko Formation (Eocene/Oligocene. Although pyrite does indeed form under anoxic conditions. The supply of fresh oxygen is therefore limited to horizontal . The presence of pyrite itself can also be deceptive.

There are other ancient and modern examples of organic-rich rocks deposited under anoxic or near-anoxic conditions associated with OMLs. During those times the OML expanded both upward and downward because of poor supply of oxygen to subsurface waters. in areas of poor circulation. Evaporitic environments combine the opportunity for abundant growth of algae with ideal conditions for preservation. with the bottom layer almost isolated from the open-marine waters. Coal Swamps. the waters entering or leaving the basin are near surface. since most organic matter was destroyed within the overlying OML. It is not coincidental that these were times of deposition of large amounts of organic-rich rocks in many parts of the world. This depletion was probably the result of the complex interplay of several factors. high influxes of organic matter. or as lateral facies equivalente thereof. mid-Cretaceous. Although circulation in coal swamps is generally sluggish. Large amounts of organic material are preserved in coal swamps as a result of the combined effects of poor water circulation. Intensely developed OMLs occur in areas of high productivity and. Settings in which circulation is restricted are much more common than stagnant basins. but it is too slow to disturb the anoxia which develops in the bottom layer. an upward expansion of the OML led to a tremendous increase in the surface area covered by anoxic bottom waters. Wherever an intensely developed OML intersects the sediment-water interface. Although an oxygen-minimum layer exists virtually everywhere in the ocean. Circulation is often restricted by the presence of a sill.. as a result of diminished oxygen demand. including paleoclimate and water circulation. Shallowly silled basins often yield evaporites. Where the sill is shallow. to a lesser extent. Bottomset beds associated with prograding delta systems can be rich in organic matter if they are laid down within a well-developed oxygen-minimum layer. It has been proposed that at certain times in the past (e. those environments can also incorporate the features of an oxygen-minimum-layer model. High productivity reduces oxygen levels. In either case. permanent density stratification will develop.g. and high hydrogen-sulfide concentrations create conditions poisonous to predators. In actuality there is a lazy turnover of the bottom waters. However. and diminished bacterial activity. sediments will be deposited under low-oxygen conditions. Any organic matter arriving in those sediments will have an excellent chance to escape oxidation. foreset beds within the same system are leaner in organic matter because they are deposited above the OML.10 movement of oxygen-bearing waters. when a major transgression had greatly increased the continental shelf area. if the basin is deep enough. whereas in a fluvially dominated system (Black Sea) the net flow of surface water is out over the sill. the point of connection between the restricted area and the open-marine environment. Furthermore. Nutrients are concentrated by evaporation. In times like the mid-Cretaceous. because of their connection with the open-marine realm. Below the OML oxygen levels again increase. The result is often deposition of organic-rich laminae within evaporites. These include the modern Peru-Chile shelf (high productivity associated with upwelling) and occurrences of black sediments of Aptian to Turonian age in the North Atlantic. because these horizontally moving waters also lie within the oxygen minimum layer. In contrast. In an evaporitic environment (Karabogaz in the Caspian Sea) there is a net flow of water into the basin. Coal swamps can develop under a variety of conditions in both marine and non-marine environments.Organic Facies . Late jurassic. which could be excellent hydrocarbon source rocks. Shallow Silling. Anoxia . Late Devonian) the world oceans were severely depleted in dissolved oxygen. the oxygen they can contribute is limited. and grazers and predatory organism are eliminated by the high salinities. RESTRICTED CIRCULATION. its intensity varies greatly. the shallowness of the swamps prevents the waters themselves from becoming anoxic.

The net result is a reduction in TOC values. as a result of more rapid removal of organic material from the zone of microbial diagenesis. all of which are chemically quite distinct from each other. or resinous material. Oxic Settings. because extensive decomposition occurs during its fall to the ocean floor. at very high accumulation rate dilution may become a more important factor than increased preservation. Coals are important source rocks for gas accumulations. and low productivity in the overlying pelagic realm. but their supposedly low potential for generating oil is to be reconsidered. TOC values increase as sediment-accumulation rates increase. Rapid burial is accomplished by a high influx of inorganic detritus. Organic matter of algal (phytoplanktonic) origin is consumed more readily by organisms than are other types of organic material. RAPID SEDIMENTATION AND BURIAL. Phenolic bactericides derived from lignin hinder bacterial decay in the water and throughout the sediment column. Dilution does not reduce the total amount of organic matter preserved. cellulosic. . thus preventing extensive diagenesis of such material. Lack of sulfate in non-marine swamps further prevents anaerobic microbial destruction of the organic matter. which settle several orders of magnitude faster than individual phytoplankton. In fact.Organic Facies . DILUTION Although high sediment-accumulation rates enhance preservation of organic matter. Rapid sedimentation and burial con also enhance preservation. forest fires. That material which remains is dominantly of terrestrial origin. but the organic material is almost invariably woody. Furthermore. Any extensive organic diagenesis is therefore likely to eliminate algal organic matter first. Most depositional settings not specifically catalogued above will be more or less well oxygenated. because its chemical components are digestible and provide precisely the nutrients required by scavengers and predators. Rapid settling of organic debris through the water column is also important. and therefore wi11 contain primarily oxidized organic matter. The extremely high accumulation rates for biogenic carbonates and siliceous sediments in zones of high productivity promote preservation of the associated algal protoplasm. It may also contain very resistent organic debris derived from erosion of ancient rocks. the phenolic components present in lignin-derived terrestrial material are toxic to many micro-organism.11 develops within the sediments rather than in the water column. Near-shore oxidizing facies sometimes have high TOC values. The hydrocarbon-source potential of all of these oxidizing facies is low. TYPE OF ORGANIC MATTER. and may include woody. Nitrogen and phosphorus are in particular demand. much of the organic material that does reach the bottom in deep waters arrives in relatively large fecal pellets. very slow sedimentation rates. and other oxidative processes. Coals also accumulate very rapidly and. with their high concentrations of organic matter. provide an ideal means of maintaining low-oxygen conditions. lignitic. Rapid deposition of inorganic detritus is common in turbidites and in prodelta shales. Abyssal sediments are notoriously low in organic carbon as the result of the combined effects of high oxygen levels in abyssal waters. their virtual absence in much terrestrial organic material. especially in structural (woody) material. biogenic inorganic sediment. but it does spread that organic material through a larger volume of rock. renders it of little nutritional value. and more favorable for gas than for oil. cuticular. or organic material.

Organic Facies . Biogenic sediments. Shales. in which the organic and inorganic materials arrive together. To derive maximum value from our analyses. Consequently. As in the modern oceans.12 Dilution effects depend upon rock lithology. a strongly developed oxygen-minimum layer. lack of knowledge of seawater chemistry and nutrient availability at those times. show strong dilution effects when accumulation rates are very high. however. SUMMARY There are three principal factors that affect the amount of organic matter in sedimentary rocks: primary photosynthetic productivity. anoxic sediments were deposited discontinuously through time and space. Some of the commonly applied criteria are apt to be misleading. It is often very difficult to separate the influences of these various factors in a particular depositional environment. It is important to be able to distinguish local anoxia or anoxia developed deep within sediments from anoxia induced by anoxic bottom waters. If the rapidly accumulating sediment is mainly clastic. Rapid accumulation of sediment shortens the residence time of organic matter in the zone of diagenesis and thus promotes preservation. Because of its role in creating rocks with excellent hydrocarbon-source potential. by uncertainties about exact continental positions and configurations in the past.and atmospheric-circulation patterns. Although certain periods undeniably contain more than their share of anoxic rocks. and dilution by inorganic material. and a very imperfect understanding of oceanic. and the presence of high TOC values coupled with the occurrence of undegraded marine organic matter. effectiveness of preservation. The most reliable criteria for bottom-water anoxia are the preservation of fine depositional laminae. Facies changes from carbonates to shales may create large dilution effects that can be wrongly interpreted as indicating changes in oxygen levels. dilution effects may lead to lower TOC values in spite of enhanced preservation rates. such models are not yet of much practical value for the distant past. Direct control of the anoxia was thus probably local. in contrast. where sediment-accumulation rates are directly proportional to organic-carbon-accumulation rates. we should always strive to place the organic rich rocks in the larger context of basin evolution through time and space. Models that integrate the concepts of organic richness with depositional cycles and facies analysis will be valuable tools for understanding hydrocarbon systems in basins. Our ability to make accurate predictions is limited. dilution is far less marked. Anoxic events in the past were probably not as large in scale or as long lasting as some workers have suggested. Productivity can be predicted by locating ancient sites of marine upwellings. Of these. including stagnancy or near-stagnancy. however. in contrast. There are a number of mechanisms by which oxygen depletion may be fostered and maintained. . such events were often interrupted for long periods before anoxia was reinduced. are not as strongly affected by dilution. however. and rapid burial. Preservation is best accomplished where oxygen is excluded from bottom waters. anoxia in bottom waters is a phenomenon whose effects we should learn to recognize in ancient rocks. as a result of high productivity or sluggish circulation. preservation is generally the most important. In biogenic sediments or coals.

hydrogen always forms one bond. Several different types of shorthand have therefore developed to facilitate drawing organic molecules. trace metals. however. The structures of methane and ethane are thus represented by CH4 and CH3CH3 respectively. and other elements. especially if one has to do it only occasionally. oxygen and sulfer." but that usage is incorrect trom the chemist's point of view because those materials often contain substantial amounts of nitrogen. whose structures are shown below. creating long chains and ring structures. as it does in the real world.Organic Chemistry . oxygen. carbonates. three bonds. This objective is very different trom that of a normal course in organic chemistry. In each of these compounds. Writing the detailed structure of a simple molecule like methane is no problem. If one wants to draw large molecules. every carbon atom forms four bonds. NAMES AND STRUCTURES HYDROCARBONS In chemical terms a hydrocarbon is a compound containing only the elements carbon and hydrogen.Organic Chemistry INTRODUCTION Anyone who uses petroleum geochemistry must be familiar with basic chemical terminology. This unique property of carbon is responsible for the existence of literally millions of different organic compounds. and nitrogen. are termed organic. in which one must also learn all the reactions of many classes of compounds. the explicit inclusion of every atom and every bond becomes extremely tedious. ethane. Similarly. In this chapter we restrict the usage of the term hydrocarbon to the standard chemical one. and cyclohexane. Petroleum and natural gas are themselves often referred to as "hydrocarbons. except carbon dioxide. The objective of this chapter is to acquaint the reader with the names of common compounds and with several different conventions for drawing their structures. We can make other logical simplifications for longer carbon chains. All compounds containing carbon atoms.13 3 . This usage is historical and does not imply that all such compounds are necessarily derived from living organisms. The following representations of n-pentane are equivalent: CH3CH2CH2CH2CH3 or CH3(CH2)3CH3. sulfur. Carbon atoms like to form bonds with each other. and metal carbides. two bonds. One common convention is to represent all the hydrogen atoms attached to a given carbon atom by a single H. and organic geochemistry the study of organic compounds present in geological environments. using a subscript on the H to denote the total number of hydrogens around that atom. and indeed in every carbon compound (except a few highly unstable ones created only in laboratories). Examples of hydrocarbons are methane. . elsewhere in this text usage will vary. The chemical reactions of interest to us are very few and are discussed only briefly. Organic chemistry is thus the study of carboncontaining compounds.

Note that the name of each compound ends in -ane. simple inspection shows how mant' hydrogen atoms each carbon atom must have.14 An even quicker shorthand that uses no letters at all has evolved. Among the most important branched hydrocarbons in organic geochemistry are the isoprenoids. are able to combine with additional hydrogen. the names of the other nine simplest n-alkanes are given in the following table. The letter n stands for normal. Many unsaturated compounds have carbon-carbon double . Other adjectival forms are made by dropping the -ane ending and adding yl (for example. Regular isoprenoids consist of a straight chain of carbon atoms with a methyl branch on every fourth carbon. Hydrogen atoms and bonds to hydrogen atoms are not shown at all. giving rise to a vast number of possible structures. The simplest series of hydrocarbons has linear structures. which.Organic Chemistry . Because we know that each carbon atom forms four bonds and each hydrogen atom forms one bond. and indicates that there is no branching in the carbon chain. because they are saturated with respect to hydrogen. these molecules are called n-alkanes or nparains." The first four names are irregular. These cyclic compounds (called naphthenes) are named by counting the number of carbon atoms in the ring and attaching the prefix cyclo. n-pentane and cyclohexane are represented by the line structures shown below. All the compounds mentioned above are called saturated hydrocarbons or saturates. The zigzag configuration illustrated for n-pentane is adopted to show clearly each carbon atom. and carbon-carbon bonds are shown as lines connecting those points. Isoprenoids ranging in length from six to forty carbon atoms have been found in petroleum and rocks. as in "alkane. We have ahready encountered n-pentane. a CH3 (methyl) group is attached to the second carbon atom. no more hydrogen can be incorporated into the molecule without breaking it apart. which we used earlier. Another important group of hydrocarbons is the unsaturates. In the case of 2methylhexane (C7H16) the basic structure is hexane. ethyl and propyl). is the adjectival form of the word methane. but the prefixes denoting the number of carbon atoms in the other alkanes are derived from Greek numbers. For example. in contrast. Names and formulas of the ten smallest n-alkanes Methane CH4 CH4 Ethane C2H6 CH3CH3 Propane C3H8 CH3CH2CH3 Butane C4H10 CH3 (CH2)2 CH3 Pentane C5H12 CH3 (CH2)3 CH3 Hexane C6H14 CH3 (CH2)4 CH3 Heptane C7H16 CH3 (CH2)5 CH3 Octane C8H18 CH3 (CH2)6 CH3 Nonane C9H20 CH3 (CH2)7 CH3 Decane C10H22 CH3 (CH2)8 CH3 Carbon atoms need not always bond together in a linear arrangement. The term methyl. We have also seen that carbon atoms can be arranged in rings. Each carbon atom is represented by a point. That is. Branching can occur.

Examples are ethene (C2H4) . converts alkenes to alkanes and cyclic compounds during diagenesis. they do not add hydrogen easily. phosphorus. and oxygen. the compounds in which they occur are called heterocompounds. In fact. the majority contain oxygen. Although they are very important constituents of petroleum.15 bonds. they do not long persist in geologic environments. Their stability permits aromatics to be important constituents of oils and sediments. except that the ending -ene indicates the presence of a double bond. and kerogen are called heteroatoms. By hydrogenation ethene thus reacts to form ethane. but they actually have completely different chemical properties from alkenes and are unusually stable. bitumen. They are named in a similar manner to the alkanes. The extreme case is graphite. nitrogen. Because alkenes are highly reactive. which is an almost-endless sheet of aromatic rings. Many of the heterocompounds present in organisms are converted to hydrocarbons during diagenesis and catagenesis. Some aromatic molecules are very large. Many common NSO compounds are not directly related to biogenic precursors. The hydrocarbons present in petroleum are mostly the end products of extensive degradation of biogenic molecules. sulfur. highly aromatic materials of . Among the most important NSO compounds are the asphaltenes. Although they are unsaturated. or other elements.Organic Chemistry . It is this delocalization of electrons which makes aromatic compounds very stable. these compounds are quite different trom the majority of the organic molecules found in living organisms. A variety of reactions. because the most common heteroatoms are nitrogen. In the laboratory they are readily converted to alkanes by the addition of hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst. Aromatics possess a system of alternating single and double bonds within a cyclic structure. Heterocompounds are also called NSO compounds. propene (C3H6). Fossil organic matter often contains a vide variety of heterocompounds. At first glance aromatics appear to be nothing more than cyclic alkenes containing several double bonds. some complex hydrocarbons that are found in fossil organic material can be related directly to individual biological precursors. they are free to move throughout the cyclic system instead of being held between two particular carbon atoms. and cyclohexene (C6H10). Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons having fused ring structures are quite common. the structures of which are shown below. these compounds are called alkenes. A simplified notation for drawing these molecules permits us to represent the double-bond system by a circle within the ring. sulfur. that is. Aromatics form an extremely important class of unsaturated hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons we discussed so far are relatively simple molecules. Most biological molecules are larger and more complex than the simple hydrocarbons. of which some are biogenic and others are formed during diagenesis. NONHYDROCARBONS Atoms other than hydrogen and carbon that occur in petroleum. The circle indicates that the electrons in the double bonds are delocalized. which are large. including hydrogenafion.

Carbohydrates include starch. and amino acids. Like lignin. They have many characteristics in common with kerogen. Because phenols are potent bactericides.000 atomic mass units. the latter is the most abundant organic compound in the biosphere. sugars. and thus tends to become concentrated as other organic matter is decomposed. Lignin and cellulose are major constituents of humic coals. and thus are seldom preserved in sediments (exceptions occur in shell material and in bones. Among these are lignin. where small amounts of preserved amino acids can be used to date specimens) . Many nonhydrocarbon molecules common to living organisms are also present in sediments. lignin is rather resistant to degradation. They are rapidly metabolized by virtually all organisms.16 varying structure. however. It is a polymer consisting of many repetitions and combinations of three basic aromatic subunits. Although cellulose is quite resistant to decomposition under some conditions.Organic Chemistry . carbohydrates. Upon decomposition lignin forms phenolic compounds. most carbohydrates are attacked readily by microorganisms. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. providing much of the structural support for large land plants. Lignin is an important component of wood. it is an important constituent of terrestrial organic matter. which are aromatics having a hydroxyl group (OH) attached. but asphaltene molecules are smaller and more aromatic than most kerogens. Lignin monomers are linked topether to form molecules having molecular weights from 3000 to 10. and cellulose.

soils. The amount of organic matter tied up in the form of kerogen in sediment is far greater than that in living organisms or in economically exploitable accumulations of coal.Kerogen INTRODUCTION Kerogen is normally defined as that portion of the organic matter present in sedimentary rocks that is insoluble in ordinary organic solvents. as well as the nature of the organic matter from which it was formed. The chemical and physical characteristics of a kerogen are strongly influenced by the type of biogenic molecules from which the kerogen is formed and by diagenetic transformafions of those organic molecules. Algal (boghead) coals are formed in environments where the source phytoplankton lack both calcareous and siliceous skeletal components. Oil shales. and ammonia from the original geopolymers. The soluble portion. Today it is used to describe the insoluble organic material in both coals and oil shales. KEROGEN FORMATION The process of kerogen formation actually begins during senescence of organisms. more complex. The detailed chemistry of kerogen formation need not concern us greatly. called bitumen. Coals and oil shales should therefore be viewed merely as sedimentary rocks containing special types of kerogens in very high concentrations. carbon dioxide. for example) are partially or completely dismantled.17 4 . with some of the inorganic matrix often being contributed by the algae themselves. which are reflected in their chemical and physical properties. when the chemical and biological destruction and transformation of organic tissues begin. Kerogen composition is also affected by thermal maturation processes (catagenesis and metagenesis) that alter the original kerogen. whether these hydrocarbons are mainly oil or gas. and how much oil or gas can be expected. A basic understanding of how kerogen is formed and transformed in the subsurface is therefore important in understanding how and where hydrocarbons are generated. Kerogen is of great interest to us because it is the source of most of the oil and some of the gas that we exploit as fossil fuels. Diagenetic and catagenetic histories of a kerogen. True kerogens. and less regular in structure. Large organic biopolymers of highly regular structure (proteins and carbohydrates. large molecules that have no regular or biologically defined structure. which have molecular weights of several thousand or more. and still larger ones.Kerogen . and natural gas. Subsurface heating causes chemical reactions that break off small fragments of the kerogen as oil or gas molecules. humins. as well as dispersed organic matter in sedimentary rocks. slightly larger ones. the geopolymers become larger. oil. develop after tens or hundreds of meters of burial. Coals are a subcategory of kerogen. Lack of solubility is a direct result of the large size of kerogen molecules. During the course of diagenesis in the water column. The smallest of these geopolymers are usually called fulvic acids. and sediments. These geopolymers are the precursors for kerogen but are not yet true kerogens. humic acids. The term kerogen was originally coined to describe the organic matter in oil shales that yielded oil upon retorting. will be discussed in a following chapter. Humic coals are best thought of as kerogens formed mainly from landplant material without codeposition of much mineral matter. Diagenesis results mainly in loss of water. strongly influence the ability of the kerogen to generate oil and gas. have more mineral matter than algal coals. Each kerogen molecule is unique. The residual kerogens also undergo important changes. in contrast. having very high molecular weights. because it has patchwork structures formed by the random combination of many small molecular fragments. If anaerobic sulfate . and the individual component parts are either destroyed or used to construct new geopolymers.

Geopolymers are more or less immune to bacterial degradation. large amounts of sulfur may become incorporated into the kerogen structure. . Even if such a description were possible. What is within our reach. Kerogen formation competes with the destruction of organic matter by oxidative processes. are converted into saturated or cyclic structures.18 reduction is occurring in the sediments. the macerals that they are composed of. The amount of sulfur contributed by the original organic matter itself is very small. One way that we can begin is by classifying kerogens into a few general types. In an oxidizing environment many of the small biogenic molecules will be attacked by bacteria before they can form geopolymers. They identified three main types of kerogen (called Types I. In a low-oxygen (reducing) environment. is developing a general method of describing gross kerogen composition and relating it to hydrocarbon-generative capacity. Microorganisms prefer to attack small molecules that are biogenic. because the bacterial enzyme systems do not know how to attack them. The four types of kerogen. KEROGEN COMPOSITION Because each kerogen molecule is unique. Those kerogens formed under oxidizing conditions. or at least look very much like biogenic molecules. therefore. better organic preservation. Carboncarbon double bonds. and ultimately of much greater practical value. and III) and have studied the chemical characteristics and the nature of the organisms from which all types of kerogens were derived. in contrast. About a decade ago workers at the French Petroleum Institute developed a useful scheme for describing kerogens that is still the standard today. Most organic oxidation in sedimentary environments is microbially mediated. contain mainly the most resistant types of biogenic molecules that were ignored by microorganisms during diagenesis. which are highly reactive. and if the sediments are depleted in heavy-metal ions (which is often the case in nonclastic sediments but is seldom true in shales). the subdued level of bacterial activity allows more time for the formation of geopolymers and.Kerogen . it would not be of great and direct significance to exploration geologists. Subsequent investigations have identified Type IV kerogen as well. in contrast. and their organic precursors Transformation of organic material in sediments and sedimentary rocks. Kerogens formed under reducing conditions will be composed of fragments of many kinds of biogenic molecules. it is somewhat fruitless to attempt a detailed discussion of the chemical composition of kerogens. II.

including marine algae. Utah. Type I and Type II kerogens. Cellulose and lignin are major contributors. Type III kerogens have much lower hydrocarbon-generative capacities than do Type II kerogens and. catagenesis. They also include contributions from bacterial-cell lipids. pollen and spores. cellulose. Type III kerogens are composed of terrestrial organic material that is lacking in fatty or waxy components. and carbohydrates. Type III kerogens have high oxygen contents because they are formed from lignin. Type I (algal) kerogens have the highest hydrogen contents because they have few rings or aromatic structures. and Colorado. unless they have small inclusions of Type II material. are normally considered to generate mainly gas. Most Type II kerogens are found in marine sediments deposited under reducing conditions. Hydrogen contents of immature kerogens (expressed as atomic H/C ratios) correlate with kerogen type. despite their very disparate origins. In the immature state. They are generally considered to have essentially no hydrocarbon-source potential. The various Type II kerogens are grouped together. of middle Eocene age. Type II kerogens arise from several very different sources. leaf waxes. phenols. Type IV kerogens contain mainly reworked organic debris and highly oxidized material of various origins. because they all have great capacities to generate liquid hydrocarbons. from Wyoming. have the lowest hydrogen contents.19 Type I kerogen is quite rare because it is derived principally from lacustrine algae. Type III (humic) kerogens. and fossil resin. Type IV kerogens are highly oxidized and therefore contain large amounts of oxygen. Type I kerogens have high generative capacities for liquid hydrocarbons. Occurrences of Type I kerogens are limited to anoxic lakes and to a few unusual marine environments. Type II (liptinitic) kerogens are also high in hydrogen. which mainly contain polycyclic aromatic systems. Extensive interest in those oilshale deposits has led to many investigations of the Green River Shale kerogens and has given Type I kerogens much more publicity than their general geological importance warrants. and metagenesis. Heteroatom contents of kerogens also vary with kerogen type. in contrast. contain far less oxygen because they were formed from oxygen-poor lipid materials. in contrast. The best-known example is the Green River Shale. . The shaded areas approximately represent diagenesis. Van Krevelen diagram showing maturation pathways for Types 1 to IV kerogens as traced by changes in atomic HIC and OIC ratios. Type IV kerogens.Kerogen . successively. have lower hydrogen contents because they contain extensive aromatic systems.

Despite its name. Catagenesis refers to transformations of kerogen molecules. especially when we are discussing both aspects simultaneously. whereas hydrocarbon generation focuses on the production of hydrocarbon molecules. forcing us to make assumptions about the source organisms.Kerogen . Because lignins and carbohydrates contain little nitrogen. but they really represent different aspects of the same process. which is destroyed rapidly during diagenesis. which occurs after catagenesis. What appears to be vitrinite (Type III kerogen) by visual analysis may have chemical characteristics intermediate between Type II and Type III kerogens because of the presence of small amounts of resin or wax. Kerogen sulfur. is derived mainly from sulfate that was reduced by anaerobic bacteria. A list of the most common macerals and their precursors is given in the table presented earlier in this chapter. Thermal decomposition reactions. metagenesis is not equivalent to "metamorphism. interrelated." Metagenesis begins long before true rock metamorphism. proving the origin of the particle. occur when a kerogen is subjected to high temperatures over long periods of time. in some cases. however. High-sulfur kerogens (and coals) are almost always associated with marine deposition. Although the terms catagenesis and oil generation are often used synonymously. marine. but it also continues through the metamorphic stage. . It is possible to make a reasonably good correlation between kerogen type based on chemical characteristics and kerogen type based on visual appearance. because fresh waters are usually low in sulfate. The small molecules eventually become petroleum and natural gas. they represent fundamentally different perspectives. they are not precisely equivalent. break off small molecules and leave behind a more resistant kerogen residue. called catagenesis and metagenesis. Catagenesis and hydrocarbon generation occur concurrently.20 Sulfur and nitrogen contents of kerogens are also variable and. the materials from which a maceral was derived. called maturation. In principle. most terrestrially influenced kerogens are low in nitrogen. Thus few kerogens consist of a single maceral type. in contrast. however. The biggest problem comes in identifying Type III kerogen. Sulfur is only incorporated into kerogens in large quantities where sulfate reduction is extensive and where Fe +2 ions are absent (organic-rich. The division of kerogens into Types I-IV on the basis of chemical and hydrocarbon-generative characteristics has been supported by another independent scheme for classifying kerogens using transmitted-light microscopy. The different types of kerogen particles are called macerals. Many high-sulfur kerogens are also high in nitrogen. Metagenesis. a term taken trom coal petrology. wherever possible. Microscopic organic analysis has reached a fairly high level of refinement and is often capable of assessing kerogen type with good accuracy. By convention the term catagenesis usually refers to the stages of kerogen decomposition during which oil and wet gas are produced. The correspondence is not perfect. In this text we shall use the terms somewhat interchangeably. nonclastic sediments). In others the original fabric has disappeared completely. Macerals are essentially organic minerals. KEROGEN MATURATION INTRODUCTION Very important changes. The kerogen in a given sedimentary rock includes many individual particles that are often derived from a variety of sources. Maceral names were developed by coal petrologists to describe. because there is not a perfect biological separation of the various types of living organic matter. they are to kerogen what minerals are to a rock. In many cases the original cellular structure is still recognizable. Nitrogen is derived mainly from proteinaceous material. Kerogen types are defined by the morphologies of the kerogen particles. represents drygas generation. anoxic. Most high-nitrogen kerogens were therefore deposited under anoxic conditions where diagenesis was severely limited.

and gas) will be discussed in a following chapter. after hydrogen loss is well advanced. The real reason for following kerogen catagenesis. in most cases decreases of temperature in excess of about 20°-30° C due to subsurface events or erosional removal will cause the rates of catagenesis to decrease so much that it becomes negligible for practical purposes. possessing essentially no remaining hydrocarbon generative capacity. the more hydrocarbons it can yield during cracking.Kerogen . as evidenced by low maturity. much as a cookie browns during baking. thus allowing us to judge the extent to which kerogen maturation has proceeded. even if drastic decreases in temperature occur. The most important implication of these chemical changes is that the remaining hydrocarbongenerative capacity of a kerogen decreases during catagenesis and metagenesis. it is also true that other changes in kerogen properties have little or nothing to do with it. These reactions are intimately related to important changes in the chemical structure of kerogen. II. much of the sulfur is lost in the earliest stages of catagenesis. oil. including the Miocene Monterey Formation of southern California. There is therefore no necessary cause-and-effect relationship . and III kerogens will therefore be very similar chemically. It is impossible to set precise and universal temperature limits for catagenesis. the rates of catagenesis are generally not important at temperatures below about 70° C. Kerogen maturation is not a reversible process-any more than baking a cake is reversible. Nitrogen and sulfur are also lost from kerogens during catagenesis. As we saw earlier. high-sulfur oils found in a number of areas. There is a steady color progression yellow-goldenorange-light brown-dark brownblack as a result of polymerization and aromatization reactions. Kerogen particles become darker during catagenesis and metagenesis. the cracking of any organic molecule requires hydrogen. Types I. because time also plays a role. Because many of the light product molecules are rich in hydrogen. Nitrogen loss occurs primarily during late catagenesis or metagenesis. In contrast. Furthermore. however. Some of these changes can be measured quantitatively. Old rocks will often generate hydrocarbons at significantly lower temperatures than young rocks. simply because the longer time available compensates for lower temperatures. The composition of the products (bitumen.21 This chapter will focus on those changes in the residual kerogen that accompany catagenesis. We shall look now at the various techniques for estimating the extent of hydrocarbon generation from kerogen properties and see how closely each of them is related to hydrocarbon generation. and thus are not necessarily valid indicators of hydrocarbon generation. the residual kerogen gradually becomes more aromatic and hydrogen poor as catagenesis proceeds. but they are not necessarily identical with hydrocarbon generation. EFFECTS OF MATURATION ON KEROGENS Kerogen undergoes important and detectable changes during catagenesis and metagenesis. In the late stages of maturity. Although it is obvious that many measurable changes in kerogens are related to hydrocarbon generation. is to monitor hydrocarbon generation. provided that the hydrogen content of the kerogen was known prior to the onset of catagenesis. Chemical reaction-rate theory requires that the rates of reactions decrease as temperature decreases. of course. All kerogens become increasingly aromatic and depleted in hydrogen and oxygen during thermal maturation. Thus the steady decrease in hydrogen content of a kerogen (usually measured as the atomic hydrogen/carbon ratio) during heating can be used as an indicator of both kerogen catagenesis and hydrocarbon generation. but it also states that at any temperature above absolute zero reactions will be occurring at some definable rate. Furthermore. The more hydrogen a kerogen contains. This complex interplay between the effects of time and temperature on maturity is discussed in a later chapter. For practical purposes. the chemical process of maturation never stops completely.

A general name tor these molecules is bitumen. especially highly aromatic ones. Some properties of kerogen change very little during catagenesis. is the ability of kerogen particles to reflect incident light coherently. because the flat aromatic sheets can stack neatly. and which can be used to gauge the extent of molecular reorganization. and no guarantee that a particular kerogen color always heralds the onset of oil generation. however. and the less it will be reflected. which are unpaired electrons not yet involved in chemical honds. Bitumen generation occurs mainly during catagenesis. and because vitrinite particles also occur in kerogens. is that some of the bitumen is expelled from the source rock or cracked to gas. Plot of bitumen generation as a function of maturity (dashed fine) compared to bitumen remaining in rock (solid line). As kerogen matures and becomes more aromatic. during metagenesis the chief product is methane. while others are small heterocompounds. Both curves are highly . there would be a large and continuous build-up of bitumen in the rock as a result of catagenetic decomposition of kerogen. Some of these are hydrocarbons. carbon-isotopic compositions of kerogens are affected little by maturation. has been widely and successfully applied in assessing kerogen maturity. Kerogens. These small compounds are much more mobile than the kerogen molecules and are the direct precursors of oil and gas. Cracking often produces free radicals. If neither expulsion from the source rock nor cracking of bitumen occurred. Free-radical concentrations can be measured by electron-spin resonance. contain large numbers of unpaired electrons. What actually occurs. the technique. the more an incident light beam will be scattered. small molecules are broken off the kerogen matrix. One property that is strongly affected. called vitrinite reflectance. The difference between the two curves represents bitumen expelled from the rock or cracked to light hydrocarbons. The more random a kerogen's structure.Kerogen . its structure becomes more ordered. Because coal rank is merely a measure of coal maturity. The concentration of free radicals in a given kerogen has been found to increase with increasing maturity. The intensity and wavelength of the fluorescente are functions of kerogen maturity. Half a century ago coal petrologists discovered that the percentage of light reflected by vitrinite particles could be correlated with coal rank measured by other methods. somewhat beyond the oil-generation window. These structural reorganizations bring about changes in physical properties of kerogens. HYDROCARBON GENERATION As kerogen catagenesis occurs. the visual appearance of kerogen also does not change during catagenesis: kerogen types are generally recognizable until the particles become black and opaque. Kerogens often fluoresce when irradiated. Except for darkening. resulting in lower bitumen contents in the source.22 between kerogen darkening and hydrocarbon generation. For example.

Rich rocks will become overpressured earlier than lean ones and thus will also expel hydrocarbons earlier. when large geopolymers are created from biological molecules. residual kerogen as well as small molecules that are the direct precursors for petroleum and natural gas. The chemical composition of a kerogen controls the timing of hydrocarbon generation and the type of products obtained.Kerogen . but none of these measurements is closely linked to the actual process of hydrocarbon generation. Many workers now believe that microfracturing of source rocks is very important tor hydrocarbon expulsion. Sulfur-rich kerogens decompose easily because carbon-sulfur hbonds are weaker than any bonds in sulfur-poor kerogens. Kerogens formed from lipid-rich organic material are likely to generate liquid hydrocarbons. Several methods exist for estimating the extent to which hydrocarbon generation has occurred in a given kerogen. Resinite and sulfur-rich kerogens are able to generate liquid hydrocarbons earlier than other kerogens because of the particular chemical reactions occurring in those two materials. Kerogens formed from resinite will generate condensates or light oils quite early. we cannot always define the limits of hydrocarbon generation with great confidence. We shall consider the latter briefly here. Thus. because natural variations among samples cause much scatter in experimental data. The chemical composition and morphology of kerogen macerals depend both on the type of original organic matter and on diagenetic transformations. although we know that oil generation does occur during the phase we call catagenesis.23 idealized. including rock physics and organic-geochemical considerations. Effective generation of hydrocarbons requires that the generated products be expelled from the source-rock matrix and migrated to a trap. Numerous methods exist for tracing the history of a kerogen and determining its original chemical and physical characteristics. SUMMARY Kerogen begins to form during early diagenesis. hydrogen-poor. It has become apparent in recent years that not all kerogens generate hydrocarbons at the same catagenetic levels. Other kerogens usually follow a more traditional model. High-sulfur kerogens generate heavy. . Microfracturing is related to overpressuring. Candidates for early expulsion would be very organic rich rocks and those containing resinite or high-sulfur kerogens. high-sulfur oils at low levels of maturity. Given the significant chemical differences among the various types of kerogens. Resinite consists of polymerized terpanes (ten-carbon isoprenoids) that can decompose easily by reversing the polymerization process. this result is hardly surprising. whereas those kerogens that contain few lipids will generate mainly gas. which in turn is partly attributed to hydrocarbon generation itself. Source rocks that generate large amounts of hydrocarbons early are likely to expel those hydrocarbons early. Catagenesis of kerogen produces a more aromatic. however. as measured by parameters such as vitrinite reflectance. Timing and efficiency of expulsion depend on a number of factors. those rocks that generate few hydrocarbons may not expel them until they have been cracked to gas. Conversely. In such cases the expelled products will be mainly gas. In very lean rocks expulsion may occur so late that cracking of the generated bitumen is competitive with expulsion.

Some of these are present in relatively large quantities. are more commonly studied. Few of these heterocompounds have been studied carefully. Both bitumens and petroleums exhibit a wide range of compositions. However. and how much is due to physical separation of chemical compounds having very different properties. and cyclics. The large sizes of asphaltene units render . but we are not certain whether they occur mainly within the source rock or during migration through the reservoir rock. Bitumen and petroleum compositions can also be used as tools in correlating samples with each other. and Natural Gas INTRODUCTION Petroleum obtained from reservoir rocks and bitumen extracted from fine-grained rocks have many similarities. Light aromatic hydrocarbons. There is no doubt that they are related. Reservoir transformations in some cases greatly affect oil composition and properties. and form complexes with molecular weights of perhaps 50.Bitumen. bitumen is almost universally accepted as the direct precursor for petroleum. indeed. contains a wide variety of small and medium-sized molecules with one or more heteroatoms. many unanswered questions remain about the processes that transform bitumen into petroleum. variously called polars. triterpanes. We also do not know how much of the change involves chemical reactions. we must separate the characteristics related to kerogen composition from those related to the transformation of bitumen to petroleum and from those related to changes occurring in reservoirs. Each of the fractions contains certain types of chemical compounds.000. In order to investigate the individual compounds present. The influence of the lithologies of source and reservoir rocks on these compositional changes is poorly understood. and steranes. have been studied in petroleums. This chapter will compare and contrast bitumen and petroleum compositions and examine the factors responsible for the observed differences. In order to understand bitumen and petroleum compositions and to use them for exploration.24 Bitumen. however. One fraction consists mainly of saturated hydrocarbons. Heavier aromatic and naphthenoaromatic hydrocarbons. COMPOUNDS PRESENT IN BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM GENERAL CLASSES OF COMPOUNDS Both bitumen and petroleum contain a very large number of different chemical compounds. The final fraction contains very large. particularly those derived from diterpanes. Much of this variety is related to source-rock facies and the composition of the kerogens that generated the bitumens. but they also exhibit many important differences. Petroleum. but these compounds are lost from bitumens during evaporation of the solvent used in extracting the bitumen from the rock. Saturated hydrocarbons are the most thoroughly studied of the components of petroleum and bitumen because they are the easiest to work with analytically. Most of the NSO compounds appear in the remaining two fractions. branched hydrocarbons (including isoprenoids). Such correlations can be particularly useful in establishing genetic relationships among samples. like benzene and toluene. The lighter of these fractions. and Natural Gas - 5 . n-alkanes. NSOs. highly aromatic asphaltene molecules that are often rich in heteroatoms. Petroleum. Major compositional changes occur in going from bitumen to petroleum. we first separate a crude oil or a bitumen into several fractions having distinct properties. Maturity also exerts control over bitumen and petroleum composition. and resins. Asphaltenes tend to aggregate into stacks because of their planarity. A second fraction consists of aromatic hydrocarbons and some light sulfur-containing compounds. while others are only trace contributors.

however. Their n-alkane distributions reflect this mix. In most cases. In a few cases specific precursor organisms or molecules can be identified. SPECIFIC COMPOUNDS Biomarkers.Bitumen. FACTORS AFFECTING COMPOSITION OF BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM SOURCE AND DIAGENESIS Biomarkers n-Alkanes were among the first biomarkers to be studied extensively. The most useful biomarkers serve as indicators of the organisms from which the bitumen or petroleum was derived.0. In contrast. of biological origin. The average of two ranges is taken to minimize bias produced by the generally decreasing n-alkane concentrations with increasing number of carbon atoms. Many of the compounds and classes of compounds that we find in crude oils and bitumens are called biomarkers.or even-carbon homologs is evident. CPI values can therefore . These compounds. but their sources are simply no longer recognizable due to diagenetic and catagenetic transformations. Sediments are also known that exhibit a strong preference for n-alkanes having an even number of carbon atoms. we are unable to use it as an "index fossil" for specific organisms. even-carbon homologs predominate as strongly as do the oddcarbon homologs among the n-alkanes. 29. asphaltene molecules have not been studied in detail. Another important indication of the origin of n-alkanes is the distribution of individual homologs. marine algae produce n-alkanes that have a maximum in their distribution at C-17 or C22.25 them insoluble in light solvents. and by their catagenetic formation from long-chain compounds such as fatty acids and alcohols. However. They are. because the concentration of n-alkanes often decreases with increasing carbon number. the CPI is greater than 1. are essentially molecular fossils. Many other types of organic compounds in crude oils and bitumens are not considered to be biomarkers because they cannot be related directly to biogenic precursors. 25.0. however. For the most part n-alkanes present in terrestrial plants have odd numbers of carbon atoms. although we know for certain that the biomarker molecule is biogenic. If the number of odd. Asphaltenes can thus be removed from oils or bitumens in the laboratory or refinery by adding a light hydrocarbon. was developed as a measure of the strength of the odd-carbon predominance in n-alkanes over the even alkanes (in the series from 23 upwards). such as pentane or propane. where input of terrestrial n-alkanes is minimal and diagenetic conditions are highly reducing. Because of their molecular complexity and heterogeneity. an abbreviation for biological markers. the CPI is 1. Many sediments. Their high concentration in bitumens and oils is best explained by their existence in plant and algal lipids. and 31 atoms. which are derived from biogenic precursor molecules. Carbon Preference Index. or members of the n-alkane series.and even-carbon members is equal. the lower-carbon homologs are given more weight in the calculation.) Even-carbon preferences occur principally in evaporitic and carbonate sediments. whereas in other instances we may be able to limit the possible precursors to only a few species. Petroleum. especially 23. These n-alkanes are believed to be formed by hydrogenation (reduction) of longchain fatty acids and alcohols having even numbers of carbon atoms. (Among the acids and alcohols present in living organisms. and Natural Gas . 27. receive contributions of n-alkanes from both terrestrial and marine sources. of course. or of the diagenetic conditions under which the organic matter was buried. depending upon the species present. and no preference for either odd. The distributions are quite sharp. Other compounds. If odd-carbon homologs predominate. or CPI.


Bitumen, Petroleum, and Natural Gas -

deviate from 1.0 even when no preference is distinguishable by visual inspection of the distribution curve. n-Alkane distributions are greatly modified by thermal maturity. Chain lengths gradually become shorter, and the original n-alkanes present in the immature sample are diluted with new n-alkanes generated during catagenesis. Because the newly generated n-alkanes show little or no preference for either odd- or even-carbon homologs, CPI values approach 1.0 as maturity increases. n-Alkane distributions in bitumens and oils derived from algae do not show the influences of maturity as clearly because the original CPI values are already very close to 1.0. It is therefore often difficult to estimate maturity levels in pelagic rocks on the basis of n-alkane data. Parameters other than Biomarkers. Sulfur contents are also strongly influenced by diagenetic conditions. For economic and environmental reasons, oils having more than about 0.5% sulfur are designated as high-sulfur. Many high-sulfur oils contain 1% sulfur or less, but in some areas sulfur contents can reach 7% (Monterey oils from the onshore Santa Maria area, southern California, for example). A few oils contain more than 10%. These high-sulfur bitumens and crude oils are derived from high-sulfur kerogens. As we saw earlier, sulfur is incorporated into kerogens formed in nonclastic sediments that accumulate where anaerobic sulfate reduction is important. Most oils and bitumens derived from lacustrine or ordinary clastic marine source rocks will be low in sulfur content, whereas those from euxinic or anoxic marine source rocks will be high-sulfur. Sulfur occurs predominantly in the heavy fractions of oils and bitumens, particularly in the asphaltenes. High-sulfur oils therefore have elevated asphaltene contents.

Introduction. There are two main types of reservoir transformations that can affect crude oils (reservoir transformations are not applicable to bitumen because, by definition, the material in a reservoir is petroleum). Thermal processes occurring in reservoirs include cracking and deasphalting. Nonthermal processes are water washing and biodegradation. Of these, cracking and biodegradation are by far the most important. Cracking and Deasphalting. Cracking, which breaks large molecules down into smaller ones, can convert a heavy, heteroatom-rich off into a lighter, sweeter one. Waxy oils become less waxy. API gravities increase, and pour points and viscosities decrease. When cracking is extreme, the products become condensate, wet gas, or dry gas. Cracking is a function of both time and temperature, as well as of the composition of the oil and the catalytic potential of the reservoir rock. It is therefore impossible to state that cracking always occurs at a certain depth or reservoir temperature. Most oils, however, will be reasonably stable at reservoir temperatures below about 90° C, regardless of the length of time they spend there. On the other hand, a reservoir above 120° C will contain normal oil only if the oil is a recent arrival. Although the role of catalysis in hydrocarbon cracking in reservoirs has not been proven, many workers suspect that clay minerals are important facilitators of hydrocarbon breakdown. Catalytic effectiveness varies greatly from one clay mineral to another, however, and our partial understanding of this difficult subject is not of much practical use at the present time. Cracking also brings about deasphalting, because asphaltene molecules become less soluble as the oil becomes lighter. Precipitation of asphaltenes in the reservoir will lower sulfur content and increase API gravity appreciably. Biodegradation and water washing. Water washing involves selective dissolution of the most soluble components of crude oils in waters that come in contact with the oils. The smallest hydrocarbon molecules and the light aromatics, such as benzene, are the most soluble. The effects of water washing are rather difficult to determine because they do not affect the oil fractions that

Bitumen, Petroleum, and Natural Gas - 27

are most frequently studied. Furthermore, in most cases the effects are quite small because of the low solubilities of all hydrocarbons in water. Finally, water washing and biodegradation often occur together, with the more dramatic effects of biodegradation obscuring those of water washing. Biodegradation is a transformation process of major importance. Under certain conditions some species of bacteria are able to destroy some of the compounds present in crude oil, using them as a source of energy. The bacteria responsible for biodegradation are probably a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic strains. Only aerobic bacteria are believed to actually attack hydrocarbons, but anaerobes may consume some of the partially oxidized byproducts of initial aerobic attack. Because biodegradation changes the physical properties of oils, it can have serious negative financial implications. Heavily biodegraded oils are often impossible to produce (Athabasca Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada, and the Orinoco heavy oils of Venezuela, for example). If production is physically possible, it may be expensive or uneconomic. It is therefore important to understand where and why biodegradation occurs, and what its effects are on oil composition. Biodegradation may actually start during oil migration (provided required temperature and oxygen conditions are met), because oil-water interactions are maximized then. Most biodegradation probably occurs within reservoirs, however, since the length of time an oil spends in a reservoir is usually much longer than its transit time during migration. Biodegradation can vary in intensity from very light to extremely heavy. Because the chemical and physical properties of an oil change dramatically in several predictable ways during biodegradation, biodegraded oils are easily recognized. Many basins have at least a few biodegraded oils, and in some areas they are epidemic. Bacteria that consume petroleum hydrocarbons have strong preferences. Hydrocarbons are not their very favorite foods, and they eat them only because there is nothing else available. The preferred hydrocarbons are n-alkanes, presumably because their straight-chain configurations allow the bacterial enzymes to work on them most efficiently. Also attractive to the "bugs" are long, alkyl side-chains attached to cyclic structures. After the n-alkanes and alkyl groups are consumed, the bacteria begin to destroy compounds having only a single methyl branch or those having widely spaced branches. Then they move on to morehighly branched compounds, such as the isoprenoids. In the last stages of biodegradation, polycyclic alkanes are attacked. Because the hierarchy of bacterial attack on crude oils is well known, it is possible to assess the degree of biodegradation by observing which compounds have been destroyed. Sulfur contents of crude oils also increase as a result of biodegradation. In a heavily biodegraded oil the sulfur content may increase by a factor of two or three. Sulfur is undoubtedly concentrated in the oil by selective removal of hydrocarbons, and may also be added by bacterially mediated sulfate reduction.

Although bitumens and crude oils contain the same compounds, the relative amounts are quite different. In the process of converting bitumen to petroleum, either the NSO compounds are lost in large quantities, or they are converted to hydrocarbons. In actuality, both processes probably occur, although selective loss of nonhydrocarbons during expulsion is probably most effective in concentrating the hydrocarbons. Bitumen composition depends strongly on the lithology of the host rock. Carbonates contain bitumens that are much richer in heterocompounds than are shales, and their hydrocarbon fractions are more aromatic. These differences are the result of the higher sulfur contents of kerogens in carbonates. Oils derived from carbonate sources are also richer in heterocompounds than oils sourced from shales.


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Natural gas contains many different compounds, although most of them are present only in trace quantities. The principal components with which we shall be concerned are light hydrocarbons (methane through butanes), C02, H2S, and N2. Carbon dioxide and N2 are generally associated with very hot reservoirs. C02 is derived either by oxidation of oil or gas or by decomposition of carbonates. The origin of the C02 can be determined easily by carbon-isotope measurements: the very different isotopic compositions of organic-carbon species and carbonates are carried over into any C02 derived from these materials. Nitrogen is thought to be an indicator of high levels of maturity formed primarily by metagenetic transformation of organic nitrogen and ammonia bound to clay minerals. Hydrogen sulfide is usually derived from high-sulfur kerogens or oils. These in turn are formed most readily in carbonates. Thus sour gas is most common in carbonate reservoirs or in places where the source rock was a carbonate. H2S could also be formed by the reaction of hydrocarbons with sulfate in reservoirs, especially carbonates containing anhydrite. Biogenic gas, most of which occurs at shallow depths, but which can apparently form (or at least persist) at depths of a few thousand meters, is very dry, containing only trace amounts of hydrocarbons heavier than methane. In contrast, the first gas produced during catagenesis is quite wet. With increasing maturity, gas again becomes progressively drier as a result of cracking of the heavier hydrocarbons to methane.

Bitumens and crude oils contain the same classes of compounds, but their relative concentrations are quite different. These differences are in some cases related to differences in maturity; in other examples they are probably a result of preferential expulsion of hydrocarbons from source rocks. Individual compounds occur in quite variable proportions in bitumens. Source, diagenesis, and maturity all exert control over these distributions. When source and diagenetic influences have been removed, the porphyrins, steranes, triterpanes, and n-alkanes in mature bitumens are found to be very similar to those in crude oils and quite different from those in immature bitumens. Oil compositions can also be strongly affected by reservoir transformations, including biodegradation, water washing, cracking, and deasphalting. Many of the factors that influence the composition of oils and bitumens are well understood and predictable, and can be used to obtain information about paleoecology, thermal history, and reservoir conditions. Gas composition is governed first of all by whether the gas is of biogenic or thermal origin. Biogenic gas is always dry, whereas thermal gas may be wet or dry. Carbon-isotope ratios are good indicators of the source of gas; biogenic gas is much lighter isotopically than thermal gases. Other important components, such as CO2, N2, and H2S, are indicative of high temperatures or sulfur-rich source material.

the microfractures heal. and pressure release can be repeated. Although the exact threshold value must vary considerably as a function of rock lithology and other factors. particularly along lines of weakness such as bedding planes. By far the most popular mechanism invoked today to explain primary migration is expulsion of hydrocarbons in a hydrophobic (oily) phase. and solution in gas. and overpressuring commences anew. The main problem with diffusion as an important mechanism of migration is that diffusion is by definition a dispersive force. Momper's value has been widely accepted as a reasonable average. it involves expulsion of hydrocarbons from their fine-grained. expulsion. When the internal pressures exceed the strength of the rock. any contribution by diffusion will be overwhelmed by that from other expulsion mechanisms. Laminated source rocks may therefore expel hydrocarbons with greater efficiency than massive rocks. During intense hydrocarbon generation. Accumulation is the concentration of migrated hydrocarbons in a relatively immobile configuration.29 6 . Primary migration is the first phase of the migration process. Traps are the means by which migration is stopped and accumulation occurs. PRIMARY MIGRATION MECHANISMS Many theories about primary migration (expulsion) have been popular at various times. Many cycles of pressure buildup. lowpermeability source rock into a carrier bed having much greater permeability. In order to understand the complex sequence of events that we call migration. oil-phase expulsion. but those that have been discounted will not be discussed here. Furthermore. we must look at each of these steps separately.Migration DEFINITIONS Migration is the movement of oil and gas within the subsurface. Secondary migration is the movement of oil and gas within this carrier bed. The hydrocarbons within the pores then become isolated again because of the impermeability of the waterwet source rocks to hydrocarbons. where they can be preserved over long periods of time. An important implication of the microfracturing model is that expulsion cannot take place until the strength of the source rock has been exceeded. Diffusion would therefore have to be coupled with a powerful concentrating force to yield accumulations of appreciable size. whereas accumulation of hydrocarbons requires concentration. One occurs most commonly as a result of microfracturing induced by overpressuring during hydrocarbon generation. it is probably most effective in immature rocks.Migration . Momper (1978) suggested that in most cases no microfracturing or expulsion could occur until a threshold amount of bitumen had been generated in the source rock. Based on empirical evidence. Its importance is probably limited to the edges of thick units or to thin source beds. but will describe the most widely held views on the dominant mechanisms of primary and secondary migration and accumulation. Each of these steps is quite distinct from the others. . microfracturing occurs. microfracturing. where pre-existing light hydrocarbons bleed out of the rocks prior to the onset of significant generation and expulsion. There appear to be three distinct ways in which oilphase expulsion can occur. Diffusion has been shown to be active on at least a minor scale and over short distances in carefully studied cores. This chapter wi11 not go into the physics and chemistry of migration in detail. Today there are only three mechanisms of primary migration that are given serious consideration by most petroleum geochemists: diffusion. Once the internal pressure has returned to normal.

and assuming that expulsion of hydrocarbons is ten times as efficient as expulsion of NSO compounds. or downward. therefore. .Migration . primary migration may be of poor efficiency. it would be expected only in the late stages of catagenesis or in source rocks capable of generating mainly gas. In most cases the distances of primary migration are probably between 10 centimetres and 100 m. because petroleum is being forced through rocks having low matrix permeabilities.30 Once the threshold has been exceeded. we conclude that solution in gas is a minor mechanism for oil expulsion. Therefore the threshold must represent not only a hurdle to be cleared by the bitumen before it can leave the source rock. this approach is rather approximate. Therefore. but it does give some idea of the efficiency of expulsion. This expulsion process probably releases internal pressures in the rock. This type of expulsion is probably only operative in very rich source rocks during the main phase of oil generation. expulsion can be lateral." We can only estimate the fraction of the bitumen left in the source rock during microfractureinduced expulsion. the migrating fluids will take them. Thus primary migration ends whenever a permeable conduit for secondary migration is reached. By comparing the average hydrocarbon compositions of bitumen and crude oil. The third mechanism. Finally. but a large proportion of NSO compounds and heavier hydrocarbons are left behind. As soon as easier paths become available. where they do exist. requires that there be a separate gas phase. particularly in brittle carbonate and opal-chert source rocks. A second way in which oil-phase expulsion can occur is from very organic-rich rocks prior to the onset of strong hydrocarbon generation. In most cases hydrocarbons are generated within short distances of viable secondary-migration conduits. hydrocarbons will be expelled in any direction that offers a lower pressure than that in the source rock. this early expulsion mechanism seems to be limited to rocks having very high original contents of lipids. oil-phase expulsion can take place when bitumen forms a continuous network that replaces water as the wetting agent in the source rock. Sand stringers within shale units can provide secondary migration conduits for hydrocarbons sourced in the shales. expulsion of oil dissolved in gas. Of course. Such a phase could only exist where the amount of gas far exceeds the amount of liquid hydrocarbons. Massive. also make excellent secondary-migration pathways. Because neither case is of great general significance for petroleum formation. we can estimate that once the expulsion threshold is reached the expulsion efficiency for bitumen is about 50%. but also an "exit tax. unfractured source-rock units are relatively rare. most of the hydrocarbons are expelled. Thus inefficiency of expulsion is responsible for much of the difference in composition of bitumen and petroleum that we noted earlier. Expulsion of hydrocarbons is facilitated because water-mineral and water-water interactions no longer need be overcome. Primary migration is difficult and slow. upward. Because the driving force for microfracture-induced primary migration is pressure release. The organic matter expelled consists mainly of lipids that were present in the sediment during deposition and diagenesis. Fracture and joint systems. Primary migration is unquestionably the most difficult part of the entire migration process. Thus a source rock lying between two sands will expel hydrocarbons into both carrier beds. but the mechanism by which overpressuring is achieved is not understood. depending upon the carrier-bed characteristics of the surrounding rocks. Because the source rock is overpressured. DISTANCE AND DIRECTION The distances traversed by hydrocarbons during primary migration are short.

Structural contours on the top of the carrier bed will . requiring only the existence of two forces. we say that accumulation has occurred. if bulk water movement opposes the direction of buoyant movement. the globule cannot enter. hydrocarbons entering the land from an underlying source rock will move toward the top of the sand even as they migrate laterally updip. Whenever a pore throat narrower than the globule is encountered. Retardatin of buoyant movement as an oil globule (X) is deformed to fit in to a narrow pore throat (Y). subsequent movement of the hydrocarbons will be driven by buoyancy. The upward buoyant force is partly or completely opposed by the capillary-entry pressure. If water is flowing in the subsurface in the same direction as hydrocarbons are moving by buoyancy. In contrast. Opposing the buoyancy is capillary-entry pressure. Coalescence of globules of hydrocarbons after expulsion from the source rock therefore increases their ability to move upward through water-wet rocks. secondary migration will occur both laterally and vertically. The smaller the pore throat. These modifications to the overall scheme are probably minor. then the rate of hydrocarbon movement should be enhanced somewhat. the more deformation is required. and becomes stuck until either the buoyant force or the capillary entry pressure changes. A third force-namely. DISTANCE AND DIRECTION Secondary migration occurs preferentially in the direction that offers the greatest buoyant advantage. Hydrocarbons are almost all less dense than formation waters. the force required to deform the oil globule enough to enter the pore throat. can modify hydrocarbon movement. Within massive sandstone. When hydrocarbons cease moving. the pore throat is very tiny or if the buoyant force is small. then the rate of hydrocarbon transport will be retarded. Hydrocarbons are thus capable of displacing water downward and moving upward themselves. but it is not essential and does not change our basic model. secondary migration will cease until either the capillary-entry pressure is reduced or the buoyant force is increased. which is resistance to entry of the hydrocarbon globule or stringer into pore throats. Thus movement within a confined migration conduit will be updip perpendicular to structural contours whenever possible.Migration . whereas capillary-entry pressure retards or stops it. hydrodynamic flow. This model is very simple. Buoyancy promotes migration. Where faulting or facies changes create impassable barriers (capillary-entry pressure exceeds buoyant force).31 SECONDARY MIGRATION MECHANISM Once hydrocarbons are expelled from the source rock in a separate hydrocarbon phase into a secondary-migration conduit. This fact has important implications for tracing migration pathways through a thick conduit. If the capillary-entry pressure exceeds the buoyant force. That is. the globule must deform to squeeze into the pore. If the upward force of buoyancy is large enough. migration may have to proceed at an oblique angle to structural contours. If. The magnitude of the buoyant force is proportional both to the density difference between water and hydrocarbon phase and to the height of the oil stringer. however. the globule will squeeze into the pore throat and continue moving upward. and therefore are more buoyant.

32 in general be more useful than contours on its base. however. Lack of long-distance migration opportunities implies that supergiant and giant accumulations are far less likely and that exploration targets will be smaller. The absence of both tectonic and stratigraphic barriers permits long-distance migration. Most basins. thus providing a potentially very effective system for combined vertical and lateral migration. not only because they often juxtapose carrier beds from different stratigraphic horizons. as a result of both tectonic disruption and facies changes related to tectonic events. however. It is possible to have lateral migrations of as much as a few hundred kilometers in exceptional circumstances. Cap rocks having low . otherwise it is impossible to account for the incredible volumes of hydrocarbons in place today. Various mechanisms for exsolution were proposed to explain how all this was supposed to happen. Unconformities also can juxtapose migration conduits. leading to smaller fault-bounded accumulations and vertical migration. Nevertheless. are broken up tectonically and have poor lateral continuity of carrier beds. because now accumulation can occur where the buoyancy-driven movement of the hydrocarbon phase is stopped or even strongly impeded. for example. Vertical migration can also occur across formations. Long-distance migration implies. The question of long-distance migration has been much discussed and disputed. and the Saudi Arabian crude oils. are basins in which lateral migration distances do not exceed a few tens of kilometers. by definition. they are rare for very good geological reasons: they occur in extremely stable tectonic settings where major but gentle downwarping has deposited and matured huge volumes of source rocks. can offer possible pathways (although sometimes rather tortuous ones) for vertical migration. Indeed. the heavy oils in the Orinoco Belt of Venezuela. Vertical migration across stratigraphic boundaries is more difficult. Vertical migration distances can also be considerable. at which time they suddenly became immiscible with the water and formed a separate hydrocarbon phase. ACCUMULATION INTRODUCTION In the old days. distances of several thousand feet are not unheard of. The problem in discussing long-distance migration is that such cases are rare. all must have migrated long distances. This model greatly simplifies the problem of accumulation. However. the largest hydrocarbon deposits known. There is no a priori reason why secondary migration cannot be a very-long-distance phenomenon. Today we believe that hydrocarbons migrate as a separate phase. Lateral migration is therefore often stymied. Drainage area is one of the most important factors influencing the size of hydrocarbon accumulations. Migration updip within a single stratum can accomplish a large amount of "vertical" migration rather painlessly. when migration was thought to occur mainly in water solution.Migration . Much more common. and has provided as carrier beds continuous blankets of sand juxtaposed with these source rocks. although it should be remembered that there are two fundamentally different types of vertical migration. including the Athabasca Tar Sands of western Canada. because final control on migration direction will be exerted by the upper part of the bed (assuming that no laterally continuous shale breaks divide the carrier bed into two or more separate systems). the process of hydrocarbon accumulation was somewhat mystical. large drainage areas and chances for very large accumulations. Faults may play an important role in vertical migration. Hydrocarbons had to remain in solution until they reached the trap. Stacked sands in a paleodelta. but also because an active fault or the brecciated zone adjacent to a fault may itself have high permeability.

Classical traps are well understood. Gas production is actually from the low-permeability sand rather than from the high-permeability sand updip and downdip. High rates of hydrocarbon generation can actually create traps by causing tensile failure of source rocks that have become overpressured as a result of hydrocarbon generation. Gas generated in the late stages of kerogen catagenesis in the Alberta Deep Basin is trapped in a sandstone bed having lower permeability than the overlying sand. Thus the Elmworth Field exhibits a water-over-gas contact. and will be covered separately. Lateral migration is of necessity short distance. it remains water wet. Because the high permeability sand updip allows gas to migrate rapidly through. that strong hydrocarbon generation and migration is going on today. CLASSICAL TRAPS. of course. The simple principle behind a kinetic trap is that hydrocarbons are supplied to the trap faster than they can leak away. No traditional seal exists. The low permeability sand thus creates a bottleneck to gas migration.33 permeabilities to hydrocarbons provide barriers to migration: that is. and vertical migration becomes important. a fractured shale that is both source and reservoir. The Elmworth Field in the Alberta Deep Basin of Canada is the prototype for kinetic gas accumulations. Accumulations are small because drainage areas are small. The much smaller Antelope Field produces from the Mississippian Bakken Formation. the low-permeability sands become filled with gas. KINETIC TRAPS Kinetic traps represent a fundamentally new concept in trapping mechanisms for hydrocarbons. Most hydrocarbon traps are either structural or stratigraphic. The seal prevents vertical migration from the reservoir rock into overlying strata. rocks whose capillary-entry pressures are high enough to overcome hydrocarbon buoyancy. Fracturing associated with high races of oil generation in the Green River Shale has created a supergiant accumulation at Altamont. Cross section across the Rhine Graben of West Germany showing the discontinuity of strata as a result of extensional tectonism endemic to rift basins. while the structure or lithologic change prevents lateral updip migration. . Because gas generation is very rapid. This model requires. Much of the hydrocarbon storage at Antelope is apparently in silts and sands juxtaposed with the producible Bakken reservoir. Seals in the traditional sense of the word may not exist.Migration .

EFFECTS ON OIL AND GAS COMPOSITION It has already been suggested that most of the compositional changes seen between bitumens and normal crude oils occur during expulsion (primary migration) from the source rock. The polar (NSO) compounds interact most strongly with both mineral surfaces and water molecules. These gas hydrates consist of a rigid lattice of water molecules that form a cage within which a single molecule of gas is trapped. of course. One important feature of methane hydrates is that they are much more efficient at storing methane than is liquid pore water. TAR-MAT TRAPS Tar mats produced by biodegradation can create excellent seals. The gas phase will. these changes in temperature and pressure can cause separation of the original phase into a liquid phase and a gas phase. The base of the gas hydrate zone forms a pronounced seismic reflector that often simulates bottom contours and cuts across bedding planes. the quantities of gas in such accumulations are huge.34 Many of the accumulations in Pliocene reservoirs in southern California are also kinetic accumulations in a slightly different sense. The technology necessary for producing these hydrocarbons has not yet been developed. but hydrates large enough to accommodate butane molecules are known. large accumulations have formed despite high rates of leakage. When the original hydrocarbon phase contains large amounts of light components. and thus are not expelled as efficiently with the oil phase. because much of the methane trapped is biogenic and was formed in young. Phase changes occur as a result of decreases in pressure and temperature during migration. In cases where no other structural or stratigraphic trapping mechanism exists. Despite the rarity of tar-mat seals. Accumulations beneath tar-mat seals are generally biodegraded themselves. but it may also include some heavier hydrocarbons dissolved in the gas. Methane is by far the most commonly trapped gas molecule. A second characteristic is that gas hydrates form effective seals against vertical hydrocarbon migration. contain mainly light components. As soon as two immiscible phases are formed. and thus get left behind as the oil globule or stringer moves upward. there may be a chromatographic effect during secondary migration. tar-mat traps are worth discussing because they include the largest hydrocarbon accumulations known: those of the Athabasca Tar Sands and the Orinoco heavy-oil belt. however. the lighter (gas) phase will be far more buoyant than the liquid phase. unconsolidated sediments that would have no other means of retaining the methane. Because intense oil generation is going on now. Gas hydrates form and are stable under pressuretemperature regimes that occur at depths of a few hundred meters below the sea floor in deep water. especially methane. tar mats may provide the only possible means for retaining any hydrocarbons. Formation of hydrates thus provides an important trapping mechanism. It will therefore migrate much faster and . Because hydrate zones are often hundreds of meters thick. and in zones of permafrost. and the poor producibilitv of the hydrocarbons they trap. The polar molecules once again interact most strongly with interstitial water and mineral surfaces. but in the future gas-hydrate accumulations may be of great economic significance. GAS HYDRATES Formation of crystalline hydrates of natural gas provides an extremely efficient trapping mechanism for natural gas. and would be incapable of sealing accumulations for long geologic periods.Migration . because the same conditions that created the tar mat persist in the subsurface. Cap-rocks in those fields are often poor. Once expulsion has occurred. At the present time the vast potential of gas-hydrate accumulations is just beginning to be recognized.

and the possibilities of combined vertical and lateral migration. Efficiency of expulsion of liquids has already been estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 50% after the expulsion threshold has been reached. Lateralmigration distances are strongly influenced by tectonic and depositional histories of basins. We have already stated that oil is expelled primarily as a liquid phase. and the timing of expulsion. as explorationists we have very pragmatic interests in migration. depending upon stacking of reservoirs. Pathways. In summary. "What does this mean for exploration?" From their perspective the important aspects of primary migration are the nature of the hydrocarbons expelled (oil or gas). are determined by structural contours on the top of the carrier beds. We need to know when hydrocarbons moved. Barriers can be created by folding. the barriers that modify die direction of migration and eventually stop it. in what direction they moved.Migration . by faulting. we want to determine the main pathways and conduite through which migration occurs. and the vertical and horizontal distances involved.35 will also assume the structurally high position in any reservoirs containing both phases. gas is presumably expelled as a gas phase. In using our understanding of secondary migration for exploration. . and how far they moved. both new phases will have compositions that differ drastically from the original phase. Many light oils (often called condensates) probably have such an origin Proposed separation of petroleum components during secondary migration as a result of chromatographic effects. Tectonically stable basins have the best potential for long-distance migration and supergiant accumulations. leading to an enrichment of hydrocarbons in the expelled liquid. by decreases in permeability as a result of facies changes. Polar compounds interact more strongly with water and rock minerals and thus move more slowly than hydrocarbons. Vertical-migration distances can be considerable. Timing of expulsion must be dealt with in a different way. and expulsion occurs concurrently with generation to relieve generation-induced overpressuring. Thus if we can determine the timing of generation. vertical faulting. Unstable basins seldom have depositional or tectonic continuities necessary for longdistance lateral migration to occur. We already know two important facts about timing from our previous discussion: expulsion based on microfracturing cannot occur before generation. SIGNIFICANCE FOR EXPLORATION Explorationists who are reading about migration will surely ask. the efficiency of expulsion. Proximity to effective source rocks and their permeabilities to hydrocarbons determine conduits. as we have seen. Efficiency of expulsion for hydrocarbons is apparently much higher than for NSO compounds. or by the presence of tars. When separation of a single hydrocarbon phase into two phases occurs. we will also have determined the timing of expulsion.

This may be caused either by the reservoir itself dying out or by an interruption of its upwards continuity to the surface. The lowest point. These are illustrated using a simple anticline as an example. Nowadays we can do better. but it is often convenient to exaggerate the vertical to show the individual beds more clearly. (b) A representation of the Piper field in the North Sea: the heavy lines are faults cutting the top of the reservoir and causing the contours to jump. The highest point of the reservoir. First.(2-18) Before we go further. they should properly be drawn with the same scale for both the vertical and the horizontal. the ticks are on the downthrown sides of the faults. If it can. it will escape to surface as a seepage. Indeed. where it is lost. The top of a reservoir formation. Any oil getting there will be unable to migrate further and so it starts to accumulate. If then we are to find any of it still preserved. one or more cross-sections may be drawn. but there must also be some sort of blockage to prevent further migration. as the beds on one side are dropped down relative to the other. (a) A simple hypothetical anticline. and hoping for the best. we need a few definitions. up towards the ground surface. To complement the structure contour map. is the spill-point: this is where oil. THE REPRESENTATION OF TRAPS Traps are commonly depicted in two ways. A structure contour map resembles an ordinary topographic contour map. which may refer either to its depth or to the spot under the ground where it lies. by displacing the water already there in the porosity. drilling a well into it. Note that we commonly highlight petroleum accumulations by shading or colouring the reservoir formations where they contain oil or gas. is mapped by contours showing depth below sealevel. not only must the reservoir be overlain by an impervious layer forming a cap rock or seal (shales or evaporites are likely to be the most effective). before we reached our modern understanding of the geology of petroleum. is known as the crest of the trap. To give a true representation.Petroleum Traps . they can be mapped by means of contours drawn on the top of the reservoir formation.36 7 . Faults will be marked by jumps of the contours. except that the contours are in depth below sealevel. if more continues to migrate up into the trap than can be . which may give a misleading impression of `lakes' of petroleum under the ground! Structure contour maps. and furthermore we can map out the extent and shape of the trap with a good deal of precision-thanks mostly to modern seismic techniques. exploration used to consist largely of finding a trap. so that the highest points on the map have the lowest values. The location of a trap in the subsurface is often the first objective of an exploration program. The contours are in feet below mean sea-level. Such a configuration of the reservoir is known as a trap.Petroleum Traps We have seen petroleum generated in and expelled from the source rock formation into an overlying or underlying reservoir.

petroleum migrating up along a reservoir can go no further and it accumulates there as a pool. Oil being lighter than water. perhaps if more than one reservoir is present. Hydrodynamic traps. formed partly by structural and partly by stratigraphic effects. separates out on top within the pore-spaces of the reservoir. However. or in their layering. Where there is more than one such pool in the same or overlapping areas. Now we can start to consider the types of trap whose discovery may await us. which are rare and are mentioned mainly for completeness. i. will occur as a gas cap above a gas-oil contact.e. where the trap has been produced by deformation of the beds after they were deposited. These have to be discounted and the bits that remain as useful reservoir in a well section may be lumped together as the net reservoir with a net pay. The trap is due to water flowing through the reservoir and holding the oil in places where it would not otherwise be trapped. either by folding or faulting. then we may see a gas-water contact. however. the informal term pay is often used. Combination traps. Structural. Similarly gas. 4. 2. The vertical height of the oil (or gas) between the crest of the trap and the water contact is the oil. that most reservoir formations include some tight intervals. The vertical height between the spill-point and the crest is referred to as the closure. When referring to a single well. STRUCTURAL TRAPS The best known type of trap is the anticline: on reaching the crest. but not entirely due to either.37 accommodated. which have porosities and permeabilities too low for them to contribute oil to production.(or gas-) column. in which the trap is formed by changes in the nature of the rocks themselves. being lighter still. Let us remember. using a cross-section of a simple anticline as example (2-19). Stratigraphic. Some terms used to define a trap. They are normally classified under four headings (2-21): 1. the only structural effect being a tilt to allow the oil to migrate through the reservoir.Petroleum Traps . 3. Just a couple more terms. and the same term is used loosely to refer to the area of the trap above the level of the spill-point. A single accumulation of oil or gas is called a pool. so that we can recognize a generally horizontal oil-water contact. there are various types of . they are embraced by the familiar terms oilfield or gasfield. If there is no oil. will spill out (under) and migrate on.

the anticline is asymmetrical. These conditions mean that the anticline becomes smaller and tighter at deeper levels until we reach a common `centre of curvature'. In this type of structure. There is a definite limit to the depths to which we should drill. beyond which there may be no trap left to explore as the consequence of decoupling of layers. Other types of anticline can be formed without any lateral compression at all: an important one is the drape or drape-compaction structure. Cover it with a few more blankets and a duvet or two. so that the beds maintain a constant thickness throughout. a well would have to be located off-crest at surface. We will describe in a little detail the most important types of anticline. with one flank steeper than the other. This is a very different kettle of fish from the concentric anticline. Compressive structures have a range of shapes between the purely concentric or parallel anticline and the similar fold. These compressive structures pose one problem right from the start. maintains its shape constant down to depth. (b) The anticline is asymmetrical and the crest shifts with increasing depth.Petroleum Traps . The general principles of this are straightforward. In this case. This can only happen if there is an apparent thickening of some beds over the crest of the fold. and we may be able to continue exploration down to depths where we have to stop for other reasons. so that the beds become intensely crushed and thrust together: we may no longer even have an anticline at all. therefore in order to drill into a reservoir near its highest point (where we would expect the oil to be). and the blanket bulges upwards with an anticlinal shape. Seismic may help. we can find the trap present at all levels down to the basement. many structures have forms in-between the two extremes. Imagine an old-fashioned stone hot-water bottle in a bed with a blanket over it: we can still see the form of the hot-water bottle. This leads us into the next problem. To test the crest at depth. Let us see what the implications are for exploration. depending on the nature and strength of the rock layers being folded. we have to know its depth to know where best to locate the well. If. but an understanding of the shape and size of a prospect is clearly critical to programming an exploration well. Cross-sections of trap-forming anticlines. on the other hand. then the position of the crest will shift with increasing depth. Below this point we have just too much rock to fit into the anticline. and we may no longer be able to see where the bottle is. we can thus expect to find only smaller and smaller accumulations of petroleum down to the centre of curvature. in cross-section. In practice. noting the differences in shape and prospectivity that we have to try to interpret. Anticlines. . The similar anticline. Traps can also be formed against faults if a chopped-off reservoir is thrown against a shale or other impervious rock. but we commonly have to undertake some form of geometrical construction to interpret what is happening at depth.(2-22) In the concentric fold the tops and bottoms of all the layers remain strictly parallel to each other. (a) The dips are the same on both flanks and the crest is beneath the same locality at all depths.38 anticlines with different shapes and geometries that can affect both their prospectivity and the positions of optimum drilling locations: we have to try to understand them.

Another is the Forties field in the North Sea. In effect the downthrown side is being pulled away from the upthrown side which would tend to create an open fissure along the fault. the Middle East. This creates a rollover anticline. the beds being draped over an upfaulted block (horst) of basement rocks. a salt pillow or a salt dome. the Gulf Coast of the USA. and several others. showing the variety of traps that may be associated with them. can be a perfect seal to any underlying accumulations. it may extend up to the surface of the ground or only part way if the supply of salt is limited. does not like empty holes. A second effect comes into play here: because there is a greater thickness of beds off the structure than over the top. and then to burst through them in the form of a salt plug or salt wall. but also . being plastic. then they will blanket the hill as an anticline. Note also that salt.(2-26) A wide variety of traps can be associated with salt plugs. Ghawar in Saudi Arabia. if the first sediments in a basin were deposited over a hilly surface. it is also liable to fracture the overlying and surrounding beds creating fault traps. and finally a residual bulge may be left between two nearby plugs: a turtle or turtle-back structure. is in one such trap. and the beds on the downthrown side above the curving fault collapse to fill the gap. In case anyone should think that this is unimportant. which contains more than four times as much oil as the whole of the North Sea put together. the Canadian Arctic Islands. bending downwards into the hole. note that the largest oilfield in the world.39 A drape-compaction anticline. it may bend up and seal off the strata it cuts through. Nature. Note that the anticline dies out upwards towards the surface. All of these possible traps may contain hydrocarbons. The effect of salt diapirism will be initially to bulge up the overlying sediments as an anticline. Diagrammatic section through two salt plugs. or over an upfaulted block or horst. This occurs alongside a normal fault that is curved. higher beds will gradually mute and suppress the structure until it is no longer present at shallow levels. Note a characteristic of these anticlines: not only do they `grow' with depth. much of the west coast and continental shelf of Africa. however. where the beds are draped over the eroded stumps of an old Jurassic volcano. This compaction enhances the anticline formed by the drape. Not only may an anticline be pushed up over the plug.Petroleum Traps . it is not always easy to separate out the two effects. Extensive salt deposits and plugs with associated traps occur in many parts of the world: the southern North Sea and northern Germany. The last type of anticline that we should be aware of is the roll-over anticline. so that it is steep near the surface and flattens with depth. those near the bottom of the sequence are going to be squeezed and compacted more on the flanks than on top of the feature as it gets buried. and hence the combined name.(2-25) Similarly.

40 they are asymmetrical. Lower Jurassic. and its depth. but we also know that sometimes faults are pathways for migrating petroleum and non-sealing at all. it seems that one and the same fault may act.. BS+MJ+O. setting it against something impermeable. or slumping as a sort of land-slide. Tertiary. we have to know whereabouts in the succession our prospective reservoir lies. Whether or not there is a trap. southern England. All very puzzling! Although attempts have been made to investigate the problem in Nigeria and elsewhere. in both ways. in both cases. thus causing sand against sand to permit migration and sand against shale to be sealing. trapped against faults to the south. and it will depend on the amount of displacement on the fault. down towards the deep ocean. The proviso is that we also have lateral closure: this may be provided by further faulting. (2-27) These roll-over structures are particularly important where the `stretching' is caused by a very thick pile of sediments at the edge of a continent gently slipping. although there are many problems in trying to locate them in the subsurface. Lower Cretaceous. Occasionally indeed. we still do not fully understand what the difference is due to. Upper Cretaceous. these predated the deposition of the Upper Cretaceous. Again. therefore. Middle Jurassic. Fault traps We indicated above that a trap may be formed where a dipping reservoir is cut off up-dip by a fault. We know that sometimes. It also depends on whether the fault itself is sealing or non-sealing. The oil is in two reservoirs. and how big it is. and naturally we have some ideas on the subject. It adds further uncertainties to our predictions of the subsurface occurrence of oil and gas. UK. Tr. Triassic.Petroleum Traps . at deeper levels the crest will shift away from the position of the fault at surface. L. as at Wytch Farm. whether the fault is normal or reverse. or have acted in the past. or by opposing dips. The reader may care to think through the various situations sketched as bits of cross-sections in the following figure in which the faults themselves are non-sealing. Note that. W. Upper Jurassic. . (2-28) We do not propose to discuss fault traps in detail. and in understanding them. The large Wytch Farm oilfield of southern England offers a splendid example. (B) a roll-over complicated by subsidiary faulting near the crest. The sealing capacity of faults is a major difficulty confronting us. to locate an exploration well in the right place. a fault can provide a seal. the position of the crest is displaced with depth and that accumulations in successive reservoirs will not underlie the same surface position. Roll-over anticlines: (A) a simple roll-over into a normal fault. Cross-section through the Wytch Farm oilfield. Kim+P. will depend on the dip of the reservoir as compared with that of the fault. Much of the oil under the Niger and Mississippi Deltas is in such roll-over anticlines. T. whether or not the reservoir is completely or only partially offset.

(2-29) STRATIGRAPHIC TRAPS Petroleum may be trapped where the reservoir itself is cut off up-dip. let us note that a number of traps. they differ somewhat in principle from the others. and on the amount of displacement of the reservoir. possibly through a submarine canyon. Unconformity traps can also be found above the break. is the biggest in the USA outside Alaska. its edges will provide an example of a reservoir dying out laterally. if terminated updip as not infrequently happens. until perhaps the supply of sand runs out. A sand deposited in a river channel will be confined by the banks and.41 Six trapping and two non-trapping configurations against a fault. Non-unconformity traps are even more diverse. however.Petroleum Traps . cut across by erosion and later covered above the unconformity by impermeable sediments. to a large extent reflecting the restricted environments in which the reservoir rocks were deposited. The variety in size and shape of such traps is enormous. It is presumed that petroleum cannot escape up the fault plane. strongly weathered basement rock (granites. Consider the sea gradually encroaching over the land as sea level rises. In fact. thus preventing further migration. say. but are generally classified as stratigraphic traps. It would be pointless to list all of the possible types of stratigraphic trap that can exist. provides the classic case: the East Texas field. becoming younger as time goes on. some of them very important. depending on whether the fault is normal or reverse. on the direction of dip of the beds relative to the fault plane. the beach sands will spread progressively over the land surface. A coral reef overwhelmed by muds. but nevertheless known. may serve as an isolated stratigraphic trap. In this manner. First. More esoterically. if drowned by shales. We mention just three examples. fan sands provide one of the prime present-day exploration . a hill on the old land surface may be formed of permeable rock. no structural control is needed. claystone. We would be left with a sandstone reservoir dying out above the unconformity. will spread out as a fan over the ocean floor. we have an isolated trapping situation. are formed by unconformities. so we will mention a few to convey the general idea. A dipping reservoir. A flood of sand washed off the shallow continental shelf into the deeper ocean. and leave the reader to speculate on other possibilities. gneisses) under an unconformity serve as reservoirs in China and North Africa. for example. A lot of oil has been found in recent years in this sort of trap in the North Sea. the porosity could be preserved beneath the unconformity. to provide a trap when later covered with.

possibly even before it . The reservoir beds were folded into an anticline. some of them large. We may note here one most important consideration. Again the range of possibilities is almost infinite. these beds were folded into a faulted east-west anticline.Petroleum Traps . The oil in these fields can only have migrated there after the traps were sealed by the higher sequences. Where a reservoir is full to spillpoint against a fault. where there is enough of it in the section. A block representation of the trap at the Prudhoe Bay field in northern Alaska. which were eroded and unconformably overlain by Cretaceous shales. As the more easily found structural traps are running out in much of the world. the biggest field in the USA. An investigation into the sealing qualities of faults affecting roll-over anticlines in the Niger Delta.(230) COMBINATION TRAPS A number of fields. This combination trap is partly structural (the anticline) and partly stratigraphic (beneath the unconformity). it is presumed that the fault is non-sealing. which was tilted west and eroded before deposition of the overlying beds now dipping east. elsewhere it appears to form a trap. The Prudhoe Bay field in northern Alaska.(2-31) The oil in the Argyll and many other fields in the North Sea is trapped in tilted and faulted Permian to Jurassic reservoirs. tilted westwards.). The oil is held in the reservoirs by younger shales overlying the erosion surface (Fig. and truncated by erosion. and where an oil-water contact is continuous across a fault. although such prospects are not easy to locate and may require a lot of sophisticated seismic. that the trap must be shown to have been there before the oil migrated. where the reservoirs overlie overpressured shales. neither completely controls the trap. Both the faulting and the unconformity control the traps. occur in traps formed by a combination of structural and stratigraphic circumstances. or the oil would have been lost. A couple of examples may give the idea. This vital factor. there always seems to be something new as a challenge. has most of its oil and gas trapped in a Carboniferous to Jurassic sequence which includes more than one reservoir. as the fault moved.42 targets. The difference is believed to be due to clay being smeared into the fault plane.

or aquifer. Depending on the balance of forces acting on the oil. This is what has been described as a hydrodynamic trap. In this sort of situation. HYDRODYNAMIC TRAPS Imagine surface water. they are known in a number of parts of the world. Oil. This may be one of the reasons why oil accumulations trapped hydrodynamically are rare. attempting to escape to surface up a reservoir. are not all that rare. geologically speaking. is that in most parts of the world the larger anticlines have now been drilled.43 was generated. cases are known where flowing water has apparently been able totally to flush oil out of an anticlinal trap. We would recognize this from residual traces of oil in a water-bearing reservoir. we would have to be careful where we locate and drill our oil production wells. Furthermore. . up in the hills and percolating downwards towards a spring. a regime of water flow cannot normally be expected to remain constant for long. It is totally dependent on the flow of water and is effective. Oil has found its way into the reservoir and is battling to migrate upwards to the surface against the flow of water. but the oil reserves they contain show clearly that generally they are also bigger. only for as long as the water keeps coming: dry up the supply of water. There is no structural or stratigraphic closure. entering a reservoir formation. essentially anticlinal. perhaps from rain. The trouble. The timing of trap formation versus oil migration has not always worked out favorably. indicating the former presence of an oil accumulation now lost. of course. Note that the oil-water contact is tilted down in the direction of water flow. is yet another aspect of the petroleum geology that we have to assess in proposing exploration drilling. in say ordinary anticlinal traps. A hydrodynamic trap.Petroleum Traps . It is therefore always important to get a handle on the hydrodynamic regime in a reservoir for both exploration and oilfield development purposes. traps in both number and size. What our efforts are increasingly directed towards. as we do not want to waste the money drilling wells that would miss the oil altogether. Such tilted contacts. and the oil will be free to move again. it may find itself caught against an unevenness of the reservoir surface where there is no conventional trap at all.(2-32) THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF TRAPS A review of 200 giant oilfields (those containing 500 million barrels or more) emphasize the importance of structural. from our present-day point of view. The oil-water contact in such a hydrodynamic trap is normally tilted in the direction of water flow. The number of structural field of this size may partly reflect the fact that structural traps are easier to find than the others. are the more obscure and generally smaller prospects. is held against an unevenness of its upper surface by water flowing in the opposite direction. therefore.


The logs show SP (Self Potential or Spontaneous Potential) on the left and R (Resistivity) on the right. Interpret the geological relationships shown in each by drawing a structural cross-section through the logs.Make the interpretations from easy (A) to more difficult. multi-interpretable (D).45 EXERCISES EXERCISE 1: The following well logs have been hung on a structural datum.Petroleum Traps . .

46 EXERCISE PetroleumTraps 2 The Wyckoff Gas Field. Oriskany production is from a small anticline on the upthrown side of the fault. Only the porous core facies is productive in the reef section (see map on next page). Wyckoff Reef Gas Field WellElevation CORNELL DIBBLE GUILD CHASE BANKS RICHARDS 2257' 2098' 2037' 2206' 2182' 2066' . N. located in Steuben County. Elevations and marked logs are provided for 6 wells in the Wyckoff Field. showing the interval from top of Onondaga to bottom of Oriskany. A deep-seated downto-the-southwest fault extends upward along the southwest flank of the reef.Y. The Onondaga forms a thick biohermal reef over part of the field.. Use this information to construct a northeastsouthwest structural cross section from the Richards well to the Dibble well. produces from Onondaga Limestone and/or Oriskany Sandstone.Petroleum Traps .

47 .Petroleum Traps .

48 .Petroleum Traps .

in which case virtually all the initial . a possible source rock in a nearby unstudied region. and might have no source potential at all in a fourth area where important facies changes had resulted in a drastically lower content of organic matter. This quantity. where G and Go are identical. It follows from these definitions that a particular stratum could be an effective source rock in one place. is it because the rock never had a high initial source capacity. but if the rocks contain abundant organic matter. The quantity actually measured in the laboratory is always G.Source-Rock Evaluation DEFINITION OF SOURCE ROCK Much of modern petroleum geochemistry depends upon accurate assessment of the hydrocarbonsource capabilities of sedimentary rocks. However.e. which we can call G. and inexpensive analysis serves as the first and most important screening technique in source-rock analysis. is most meaningful if we can compare it to the rock's original source capacity. the Phosphoria Formation of Wyoming and Idaho belongs to each of these classifications in different areas. Possible source rock: any sedimentary rock whose source potential has not yet been evaluated.49 8 . For example. MATURITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL Knowing a rock's remaining source capacity G solves only one part of the puzzle. Go. Analysis normally requires about one gram of rock. quick. the remaining source capacity and not the original capacity (Go). the following distinctions can be made: Effective source rock: any sedimentary rock that has already generated and expelled hydrocarbons. overmature.Source Rock Evaluation . we actually measure its remaining (or untapped) source capacity at the present day. Potential source rock: any immature sedimentary rock known to be capable of generating and expelling hydrocarbons if its level of thermal maturity were higher. but which may have generated and expelled hydrocarbons. This simple. that usage is a bit too broad and loose. or is it because the rock is "burned out" (i. Although the term source rock is frequently used generically to describe fine-grained sedimentary rocks. For example. much smaller amounts can be analyzed. PRINCIPLES OF SOURCE-ROCK EVALUATION QUANTITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL The amount of organic material present in sedimentary rocks is almost always measured as the total-organic carbon (TOC) content. When we analyze a rock sample in the laboratory. we cannot measure G directly for a sample that has already begun to generate hydrocarbons. The term "effective source rock" obviously encompasses a wide range of generative histories from earliest maturity to overmaturity. For better communication. The difference between Go and G represents the hydrocarbons already generated in the effective source rock. Go can only be measured directly for immature source rocks.. a potential source rock in a less-mature area. instead it must be estimated by measuring G for a similar sample that is still immature. it is also necessary to know what level of thermal maturity is represented by that particular G value. if G is very low.

Thermal Alteration Index (TAI). The fraction of the incident beam that is reflected coherently is measured and recorded and stored automatically on a computer. very different. between 50 and 100 measurements will be taken. the plot is a straight line. TAI measurements are made on the same slides prepared for microscopic kerogen-type analysis. where the o indicates that the measurements were made with the plug immersed in oil. Vitrinite-reflectance techniques were developed for measuring the rank of coals. of course. If no pollen can be found. vitrinite reflectance. In many rocks vitrinite is rare or absent. its maturity is not related to that of the rock in which it is found. A substantial number of techniques for measuring or estimating kerogen maturity have been developed over the years. A few of these parameters will briefly be discussed. paucity of first-cycle vitrinite renders vitrinite-reflectance measurements essentially worthless. far more common in shales than in coals. In other rocks. . the reflectance value of vitrinite increases. In order to minimize differences in color caused by changes in the type or thickness of the kerogen particles. the microscopist shines light on an individual vitrinite particle. leading to frequent difficulties in establishing which vitrinite population is indigenous. in which the vitrinite maceral is usually very common. Because each maceral type increases in reflectance in a slightly different way as thermal stress increases. however. The most commonly used maturity parameters today are spore color (Thermal Alteration Index. TAI measurements are carried out on bisaccate pollen grains whenever possible. Less commonly used are fluorescence and conodont color (CAI). in some cases it is essential. in obtaining more than one maturity parameter. If a log scale is used for the reflectance. The method is based on the fact that with increasing thermal stress. After the plug is polished. At the end of the analysis a histogram of the collected data is printed. The ideal histogram of reflectance values is therefore rather rare. All the techniques discussed are useful and probably reasonably accurate if the analytical work is carefully done. Reworked vitrinite is. Vitrinite reflectance (Ro). more common are histograms showing few vitrinite particles or multiple modes as a result of first-cycle vitrinite contaminated with reworked vitrinite or caving of less-mature material from up-hole. along with a statistical analysis of the data. The key to using maturity parameters effectively lies in evaluating the measured data carefully (and sometimes with skepticism) and. If enough vitrinite particles can be found. vitrinite reflectance is the most popular technique today for estimating kerogen maturity. misidentification of macerals can cause problems. Reflectance values are normally plotted versus depth in a well.50 hydrocarbon-source capacity has already been used up)? The exploration implications of these two scenarios are. even for experienced workers. TAI values are estimated. in fact. In many areas it is easy to use and valuable. Other macerals or solidified bitumens can often be misidentified as vitrinite. Despite its weaknesses.Source Rock Evaluation . with lower confidence. In all cases it is worthwhile to supplement vitrinite with other measures of maturity. Because what is present is often reworked. The darkening of kerogen particles with increasing thermal maturity can be used as an indicator of maturity. from amorphous kerogen. Results are reported as Ro values. and pyrolysis temperature. All the methods have strengths and weaknesses. Vitrinite-reflectance measurements begin by isolating the kerogen with HCl and HF. and none can be applied in all cases. unless surrounding samples help us determine the indigenous vitrinite population. There are many problems with vitrinite reflectance as applied to kerogens. whenever possible. and then embedding the kerogen particles in an epoxy plug. or TAI). Such histograms are quite often difficult or impossible to interpret. The feeling of most workers today is that there is no single maturity indicator that tells the whole story unerringly all the rime.

One advantage of CAI over other maturity parameters is that because conodonts existed as early as the Cambrian. which can vary greatly in its chemical and physical properties. Colors of the specimens thus obtained are determined under a binocular microscope and compared with standards. most commonly from fossiliferous carbonates. CAI is inexpensive and easy to measure and. lack of proper standardization. Conodonts do not occur in rocks younger than the Triassic. When palynomorphs are absent. Other disadvantages overlap with some of the advantages. Finally. Carbon Preference Index (CPI). CAI is only an indirect indicator of hydrocarbon maturity. A careful worker can reproduce earlier work with excellent precision.Source Rock Evaluation . The first maturity indicator applied to sediments was the Carbon Preference Index. Although TAI determinations are subjective. changes in conodont color are apparently due to carbonization of inclusions of small amounts of organic matter during catagenesis and metagenesis. because the organic metamorphism displayed by conodonts is not related to hydrocarbon generation or destruction.51 Each laboratory has reference slides so that microscopists can continually compare the color determinations they are now making with those they and their colleagues made in the past. One disadvantage of CAI measurements is that CAI values can be dramatically increased in the presence of hot brines. thus defusing to a large degree the criticism that TAI is too subjective to be valid. Conodont Alteration Index (CAI). Thirdly. Although conodonts are composed of carbonate apatite. by removing the mineral matrix with acetic or formic acid. Conodonts are not very sensitive indicators of maturity within the oil generation window. TAI measurements are therefore often quite accurate and correlate very well with results from other techniques. with the help of color charts can be carried out by inexperienced personnel. Furthermore. the CAI scale is most sensitive at levels of maturity much higher than can be measured by TAI. and thus helps expand the range over which maturities can be measured. where pollen and vitrinite are often absent. and thus are of no value in many areas. Early investigations showed that immature rocks often had high CPI . conodonts are plentiful in carbonate rocks. leading to an inaccurate assessment of kerogen maturity. use of careful standards and the same type of palynomorph in each analysis greatly aid reproducibility. The technique is simple and quick and can be done even by inexperienced workers. TAI values must be estimated from amorphous debris. the absence of spores and pollen in the samples. The chief problems arise with inexperienced workers. Finally. or most commonly. where most of the interest is. Conodonts are isolated. TAI values estimated from amorphous material are always suspect and should be corroborated by other analyses. they offer a means of measuring maturity in rocks that do not contain pollen grains or vitrinite.

and can be removed prior to beginning the analytical sequence. TOC values will be raised and vitrinite-reflectance values lowered by the presence of adsorbed diesel. Mold or other surface growth may also be present. it is impossible to determine which maturation path brought it to that point. and lignite from lignosulfonates.The main causes of contamination among samples obtained from wells are caving and adulteration by drilling-fluid additives. Contaminants of particular notoriety are diesel fuel. because all kerogens have low pyrolysis yields. therefore. it can lead to an overly optimistic assessment of the organic richness of the section. Well Samples .5).52 values (> 1. only microscopic analysis is relatively unaffected by maturity. Atomic H/C ratios must therefore be corrected for the effects of . This discovery led to the use of CPI as an indicator of maturity.Source Rock Evaluation . Later it was realized that the decrease in CPI with increasing maturity depends upon the type of organic matter originally present as well as on maturity. Drilling-fluid additives have been a severe headache for petroleum geochemists for a long time. diesel fuel affects both kerogen and bitumen. in which the input of terrestrial lipids was very limited. The most common method for taking maturity effects into account in evaluating pyrolysis data is to use a modified van Krevelen diagram to backcalculate the original hydrogen index. Like pyrolysis. of course. Without additional information. because of their friability. As a result. This method works fairly well if the kerogen is still within the oil-generation window. in the last decade kerogen analyses have replaced bitumen analyses as the routine procedure in source-rock evaluation. palynological analysis can usually detect the presence of lignosulfonates because of the unique pollen assemblages present in the lignite. As long as kerogen particles are not completely black. ESTIMATION OF ORIGINAL SOURCE CAPACITY Of the three major methods of determining kerogen type. The exception to this rule is with amorphous material. vitrinite reflectance measurements offer the best means of recognizing caving. but it can be devastating in cuttings samples. Pyrolysis yields are. which affect only the kerogen portion of the sample. walnut hulls and other solid debris. In such cases TOC values will be raised and reflectance histograms will show a large population near 0. and therefore should be easy to avoid. rocks deposited in pelagic environments. strongly affected by maturity. In many cases. however. of course. atomic H/C ratios measure the present day status of the kerogen rather than its original chemical composition. whereas those of oils were almost always below 1. however. CONTAMINATION AND WEATHERING Surface Samples -The types of contamination most frequently encountered in surface samples are caused by living organic matter or by spills of oil.5%. where the fluorescence that enables us to distinguish between oil-prone and non-oil-prone disappears toward the end of the oil-generation window. Furthermore. Careful picking of lithologies and comparison with up-hole samples can often recognize caved materials. In particular. Caving is not a problem for conventional or sidewall cores. Problems with living organic matter are easily avoided by physically removing tiny plant roots and other recognizable debris. It breaks down at high maturity levels. Caving is a particular problem for coals. fewer CPI determinations are made now. In contrast to solid additives.2. have low CPI values even when immature. they can usually be identified with reasonable confidence. Hydrocarbon contamination is rare except in the immediate vicinity of production or where vehicles are used. Walnut hulls and other organic debris are also easy to detect microscopically. Fortunately. It is capable of impregnating sidewall and conventional cores as well as cuttings.

These raw data are then normalized for the organic-carbon content of the sample. yielding . because the kerogens they contain are woody or highly oxidized.5% TOC are considered to have negligible hydrocarbon-source potential. We must still determine whether the kerogen present is in fact of good hydrocarbon-source quality. etc. The oil-generative macerals are those of Type I and Type II kerogens: alginite. that at least some Australian inertinites can generate significant amounts of oil. which ones might be of slight interest (TOC between 0. however. Rocks containing more than 1% TOC often have substantial source potential. and thus of limited source potential. These immature H/C ratios can then be used to calculate Go. Those rocks containing less than 0. cutinite. The amount of hydrocarbons generated in such rocks is so small that expulsion simply cannot occur. and S3) are expressed in milligrams of hydrocarbon or carbon dioxide per gram of rock sample. the actual volume percent occupied by the organic material is about twice the TOC percentage. TOC values above 2% often indicate highly reducing environments with excellent source potential.53 maturation by using a van Krevelen diagram.5%).0% TOC are marginal. Thus high TOC values are a necessary but not sufficient criterion for good source rocks. In some rocks TOC values between 1% and 2% are associated with depositional environments intermediate between oxidizing and reducing. Smyth (1983). INTERPRETATION OF SOURCE-ROCK DATA QUANTITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL Almost all measurements of the amount of organic matter present in a rock are expressed as TOC values in weight percent of the dry rock.5% and 1. Raw data (S1. They will not function as highly effective source rocks. As such these quantities are a measure of the total capacity of a rock to release or generate hydrocarbons or carbon dioxide. Because the density of organic matter is about one-half that of clays and carbonates. Rocks containing between 0. A rock containing 3% TOC is likely to have much more than six times as much source capacity as a rock containing 0. has dissented from this pessimistic view. because the type of kerogen preserved in rich rocks is often more oil-prone than in lean rocks. Interpretation of TOC values therefore does not simply focus on the quantity of organic matter present. the kerogen in such lean rocks is almost always highly oxidized and thus of low source potential. S2. have little oil-source potential. resinite.0%). Gas-generative kerogen is mainly vitrinite. and which are definitely worthy of further consideration (TOC > 1. In interpreting these observations we normally divide these macerals into oil-generative. where preservation of lipid-rich organic matter with source potential for oil can occur. and inert.Source Rock Evaluation . Many rocks with high TOC values. We therefore use TOC values as screens to indicate which rocks are of no interest to us (TOC < 0.5% TOC.0%). TYPE OF ORGANIC MATTER Microscopic kerogen-type analysis describes the proportions of the various macerals present in a sample. Pyrolysis results are normally reported in two ways. claiming. Kerogens in rocks containing less than 1% TOC are generally oxidized. the direct evidence for such a statement is rather meager. on the basis of deductive reasoning.5% and 1. Inertinite is considered by most workers to have no hydrocarbon-source capacity. Furthermore. fluorescing amorphous kerogen. but they may expel small quantities of hydrocarbons and thus should not be discounted completely. exinite. gas-generative. Nevertheless. however.

either from terrestrial macerals (cutinite.54 values in milligrams per gram of TOC. The correlations among maturity parameters have been fairly well established. Because variations in TOC have been removed in the normalizing calculation.5% Ro. Kerogens with hydrogen indices above about 300 contain substantial amounts of Type II macerals. but there are still some minor variations from one laboratory to another. Interpretation of hydrogen indices for immature kerogens is straightforward. Hydrogen indices below about 150 mg HC/g TOC indicate the absence of significant amounts of oil generative lipid materials and confirm the kerogen as mainly Type III or Type IV. Peak generation is reached near 0. It is particularly difficult to generalize about TAI values because the numerical values of TAI scales have not been standardized among laboratories. this generalization has two fallacies: most of the coalfields originally studied were of Paleozoic age.Source Rock Evaluation . for most kerogens the onset of oil-generation is taken to be near 0. and thus are considered to have good source potential for liquid hydrocarbons. Age of coals is important. MATURITY Kerogen Parameters. and the end of liquid-hydrocarbon generation is thought to be at about 1. others use 440°. most other maturation parameters are related to Ro values. CAI can actually measure high-grade metamorphism. Some laboratories put the onset of maturity at 435° C. Although Tmax values are determined objectively. because during the Paleozoic the biota was quite different than during the Cenozoic. but in most cases is probably not much above 1. However. The limits of the oil generation window vary considerably depending upon the type of organic matter being transformed.6% Ro. because they vary with kerogen type as well as maturity. and the coals were of bituminous to anthracite rank. Kerogens with hydrogen indices above 600 usually consist of nearly pure Type I or Type II kerogens. the hydrogen index serves as an indicator of kerogen type. Nevertheless. resinite. exinite) or from marine algal material. . Because vitrinite reflectance is the most popular method of determining maturity. Hydrogen indices above 150 reflect increasing amounts of lipid-rich material. Measured hydrogen indices must be corrected for maturity effects by using a modified van Krevelen diagram as outlined above. some Cenozoic coals should have better potential for generating liquid hydrocarbons. respectively. The normalized S2 and S3 values are called the hydrogen index and the oxygen index. Those between 150 and 300 contain more Type III kerogen than Type II and therefore have marginal to fair potential for liquids. a unified scale for comparing them with Ro values has not been adopted. COALS AS SOURCE ROCKS Coals have been traditionally discounted as effective source rocks for oil accumulations because of the lack of geographic correlation between oil fields and coal deposits. A second. Conodont Alteration Index (CAI) values ranging from 1 to 5 were tied loosely to vitrinite reflectance and fixed carbon content of coals.35% Ro. if you are using TAI determinations determined by an analytical laboratory. The ultimate limit of oil stability is not known for certain. Thus. Because some Cenozoic land plants are richer in resins and waxes than Paleozoic plants. less common application is to decide whether oil will be stable in a given reservoir. make sure that you have a copy of their equivalency between TAI and Ro. Determination of the oil-generation window in a particular section is the objective of most maturity analyses performed on possible source rocks. with CAI of 8 reached in a marble. They have excellent potential to generate liquid hydrocarbons.9% Ro.

50 2.0 Pyrolysis Tmax (°C) 420 430 440 450 460 465 470 480 500 500 + 500 + Conodont Alteration Index (CAI) 1 1 1 1.2 3. Whenever possible. and maturity of the organic matter present in the rocks? Satisfactory methods are available in most cases to answer all these questions.Source Rock Evaluation .80 1. To do this intelligently we must have the ability to develop regional models of organic facies and thermal maturity.0 4.00 4.5 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 Correlation of various kerogen-maturity parameters with vitrinite-reflectance (Ro) values . unconformities and erosional events. With increasing experience one can also learn to derive important information on thermal histories.8 3. We should always attempt to extrapolate our measured data over as large an area as possible. rather.6 2.55 SUMMARY Any source-rock evaluation should attempt to answer three questions: What are the quantity.3 2.40 0.35 1. type. we should attempt to corroborate the measured data by other analyses. we should not rely on a single analytical technique. therefore. Vitrinite Reflectance (%Ro) 0.8 4. Interpretation of source-rock data on a basic level is quite simple.60 0.00 1.5 3.50 0.00 Thermal Alteration Index (TAI) 2.4 3.00 3.0 2.20 1. and organic facies. In some areas one technique may fail completely or may be only partially successful.0 3.

6 2. so "Total Oil" can be plotted against "Oil Already Generated." To do this.33 1.3 0.38 TAI 2.07 1.0 2-2. and both should be utilized and examined for possible discrepancies.6 0. however.8 0.1 3. Both the immature H / C ratios and the maceral analysis data need to be scaled to calculate "Total Oil.3 1.5 0.65 0.9 3. and maturity (TAI).7 1. B) H/C versus TAI for Mauve Well samples.5 2-2.72 0.15 0. presenting the kerogen quality factor as a .6 2.2 3.66 0.1 2.2 2. The calculated immature H/C ratios are listed in the table on next page.0 3.5 1.5 1.5 2.77 0. refer to the graph on next page.05 0.5 0.0 0.7 1. This can be done easily by plotting H/C versus TAI.2 1." Two independent quality measurements have been made.98 0. one must first convert the measured.5 2. To use the H /C data.41 0. Source-rock data for the Mauve Well Depth (m) 1000 1200 1500 1750 2000 2300 2700 3000 3500 3600 3800 4000 4500 4600 4800 5000 Type of Sample Sidewall Cores %Corg 0. A) Calculation of the immature kerogen H/C ratio(at A) from the present-day H/C ratio and vitrinite reflectance data(at P) .2 Atomic H/C 1.81 1.7 3. and then tracing the H/C ratio back to its immature value. quality (H /C and %Alginite + Exinite).5 2-2.6 2.Source Rock Evaluation .22 1.7 2.86 0. as shown in Figure B (derived from Figure A).27 1.8 % Alginite + Exinite 75 80 80 75 80 90 85 75 70 50 45 60 45 40 ? ? Core Cuttings Data are available on quantity (%Corg).75 0.56 EXERCISES Worked out example: Perform a source-rock analysis on the Mauve Well. present-day H/C ratios to the ones that the kerogens had when they were thermally immature.7 2.5 2.

so some systematic error is likely.90 0.5 1.90 0.81 1. If these attempts produced no resolution of the problem.8 ? ? * * * Indicates discrepancy between quality factors calculated from H /C and from maceral analysis. the interpreter might then decide to try a third technique. The samples at 1000.50 1. and not .6 1. The most important point being made here is that these discrepanties must be taken seriously by the interpreter.35 0.77 0.77 0.05 0. such as pyrolysis.60 0. 2300. 1500. The prudent interpreter might now ask that some of the H/C ratios be rerun. In each case.4 1.5 1.81 1. The scaled quality factors are given for each parameter in the table on next page.33 1.72 0.41 0. the H/C ratio gives the lower quality factor.60 ? ? * * * * * 1.60 0.90 ? ? Quality Factor Quality Factor (from H/ C) (from 1.05 1.17 0. 2000. Scaled Quality Data tor Mauve Well Samples Depth (m) macerals) 1000 1200 1500 1750 2000 2300 2700 3000 3500 3600 3800 4000 4500 4600 4800 5000 Measured H/C 1.07 1.65 0.5 1. and 4500 meters all show differences in the quality factors calculated from the two types of data.Source Rock Evaluation .70 1.85 1. and would certainly request that the slides made for maceral analysis be reviewed.9 1.90 0.22 1.9 0. 4000.35 0.86 0.66 0.0 0.43 1.90 0.05 1.07 1.20 1.57 function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen in order to determine the quality factor from H/C.7 1.05 0. Without more knowledge. to check for analytical error.15 0.2 0.27 1.6 1. Kerogen quality factor as a function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen.38 Immature H/C 1.98 0.65 0. 1750.75 0.6 1.00 0.22 1.8 1. however. In likewise manner (not illustrated here) the quality factor can be determined from maceral analysis data.05 0.30 1. it is impossible to pinpoint the error.35 1. It is apparent that there are serious discrepanties between the H/C and maceral analysis results for several of the samples.

The only sample where the discrepancy is significant is that from 2000 meters. no maceral analysis was possible here. It may be necessary occasionally to offer two alternative interpretations without choosing between them. Most of the discrepanties among the different quality factors turn out to be unimportant. "Total Oil" values are generally unexciting. "Oil Already Generated" values indicate that only the section lying below 4500 meters is likely to have generated anything approaching a commercially attractive amount of oil. These two kerogens are highly mature and quite black.Source Rock Evaluation . In fact. The rest of the section shows a good correspondente between the two parameters. "Total Oil" and "Oil Already Generated" profiles are plotted in above figure. although the section between 2000 and 3500 meters shows fairly good potential. "Total Oil" and "Oil Already Generated" profiles tor the Mauve Well. because sourcerock potential is not good for most of the section. about the oil-source history of the section below 4600 meters. Let us take this last approach to this problem. and the H/C ratios are not helpful because the maceral types cannot be ascertained from such low H/C values. More samples between 3000 and 3500 meters should be obtained to define better the zone of high "Total Oil" values. therefore. a more thermally mature version of the rocks lying between 2700 and 3000 meters in the Mauve Well could already have generated very large quantities of oil. .58 be overlooked or swept under the rug. The relative organic richness of the blackened samples below 4600 meters makes them interesting for further investigation. except for the two deepest samples. Future exploratory activity could include an attempt to find such a section. One can say little. Finally.

02 Atomic H/C 0.5 3.0-2.5 2.5 3. EXERCISE Source Rock 2 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well. Source-rock data tor the Turquoise Well Depth (ft) 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500 10.51 0.25 0.3 2.5 2.3 Bit/TOC 0.33? 1.5-3 2.18 0.21 1.65 0.99 1.03 0.67 0.08 0.5 2.2 0.5 2.Source Rock Evaluation .5-3 2.09 0.0 0.65 0.66 0.27 1.0 2.27 0.91 1.63 0.86 1.25 1.1 0.5 2.22 0.12 *TAI and Ro are interconverted according to the correlation table at the end of chapter 7.3 2.91 1.03 0.5 2.66 0.0 2.4 0.60 0.26? 1.52 0.91 0.07 1.02 0.5 2.5-3 2.08 0. Thermal-maturity data for the Blue Well Depth (ft) TAI Ro Bitumen/TOC 1000 1200 1500 2000 2300 2600 3000 3200 3400 3700 4000 4200 4800 5000 5200 5400 5700 6000 2.0 2.7 0.1 2.88 0.0 2.11 0.06 0.05 0.6 2.07 0.5-3.8 1.5 2.8 0.17 0.5 2.49 0.48 Ro 0.59 0.60 0.46 0.5 2.21 0.0-2.6 4.08 0.06 0.59 EXERCISE Source Rock 1 Combine the data from the Blue Well to give a coherent picture of thermal maturity in the section drilled.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1.85 0.5 3-3.01 0.5-3 3.0-2. Explain how you resolved any apparent discrepancies.07 0.5 2.51 0.06 0.90 0.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10 2-2.5-3 2.21 1.5 0.41? 1.60 0.5-3 2.00 1.09 0.5 TOC = Total Organic Carbon Bit/TOC = Bitumen/Total organic carbon ? indicates a poor histogram TAI = Thermal Alteration Index Ro = Vitrinite reflectance .0 3-3.51 0.42 0.6 0.03 0.0 2.08 0.2 2.10 0.59 0.7 0.3 1.0 2.9 1.55 0.02 0.17 0.05 0.3 2.71 0.49 0.61 0.44 0.

If no subsurface data are available. These considerations are important when we want to compare timing of generation. Nevertheless.60 9 . In order to circumvent these difficulties. however. In this chapter you will learn how to carry out maturity calculations using Lopatin's method and how to use Lopatin's method in exploration. maturity measurements can only tell us about present-day maturity levels. estimates can be made. however. Time-stratigraphic data are usually available as formation tops and ages obtained by routine biostratigraphic analysis of well cuttings.Predicting Thermal Maturity .Predicting Thermal Maturity INTRODUCTION Measured maturity values for possible source rocks are invaluable because they tell us much about the present status of hydrocarbon generation at the sample location. perhaps from thicknesses of exposed sections nearby. Part of this problem is a consequence of the limitations we face in attempting to obtain reliable maturity measurements. This assumption is a logical and defensible one. early efforts to take both time and temperature into account in studying the process of hydrocarbon generation were only partially successful because of the mathematical difficulties inherent in allowing both time and temperature to vary independently. Lopatin in the Soviet Union described a simple method by which the effects of both time and temperature could be taken into account in calculating the thermal maturity of organic material in sediments. CONSTRUCTION OF THE GEOLOGICAL MODEL One of the advantages of Lopatin's method is that the required input data are very simple and easy to obtain. methods have been developed for calculating maturity levels where measurements are not available. It has even been suggested that maturity models are more accurate than measured data for determining the extent of petroleum generation. The common thread running through all these models is the assumption that oil generation depends upon both the temperature to which the kerogen has been heated and the duration of the heating. Furthermore. in frontier basins there may not be a single well within tens or hundreds of kilometers. and migration with timing of structure development or trap formation. If our measurements indicate that a rock has already passed through the oil-generation window. Even in maturely explored basins the samples available for analysis often do not give a representative picture of maturity in the basin. In most cases. If no well data are available. we still have no clue as to when oil generation occurred. In some areas there are no well samples available. indeed. He developed a "Time-Temperature Index" of maturity (TTI) to quantify his method. especially if the seismic reflectors can be tied to well data. measured maturity data are of limited value in exploration. . Lopatin's method allows one to predict both where and when hydrocarbons have been generated and at what depth liquids will be cracked to gas. We need data that will enable us to construct a time stratigraphy for the location of interest and to specify its temperature history. In 1971. for it is in keeping with the predictions of chemical-kinetic theory. expulsion. a time stratigraphy can sometimes be constructed using seismic data. nor do we know at what depth or temperature it occurred. These two factors are interchangeable: a high temperature acting over a short time can have the same effect on maturation as a low temperature acting over a longer period.

Using these present-day data and extrapolating them into the past. and that a corrected bottom-hole temperature of 133° C was obtained at 3800 m. Nevertheless. The next step is to locate the first control point from the time-stratigraphic data on the input table. sediment has accumulated continuously but at varying rates since deposition of the oldest rock 100 million years ago (Ma). Connecting the six dots completes the burial-history curve. Today the rock is at a depth of 3700 m. we can construct the temperature grid with equally spaced isotherms parallel to the earth's surface. a burial-history curve may represent only a rather uncertain guess. representing the initial deposition of the sediment (point A) and its position today (point B). In the Tiger well. are marked on the age-depth plot. Using the other control points from the input table. The simplest way to do this is to compute the present-day geothermal gradient and assume that both the gradient and surface temperature have remained constant throughout the rock's history. Suppose. we can construct the complete figure. An example is shown in the following figure. it is easy to construct burial-history curves with a high level of confidence. In cases where biostratigraphic data are available and deposition has been reasonably continuous. that the Tiger well was logged.(9-2) All of the shallower and younger horizons will have burial-history curves whose segments are parallel to those of the oldest horizon. for example. if constructed as carefully as the data permit. TEMPERATURE HISTORY The next step is to provide a temperature history to accompany our burial-history curve.61 BURIAL-HISTORY CURVES Implementation of Lopatin's method begins with the construction of a burial-history curve for the oldest rock layer of interest. which was constructed from the time stratigraphy for the Tiger well. by 80 Ma the sediment had been buried to a depth of 900 m (point C). . Neglecting compaction effects. In cases where biostratigraphic data are lacking or where the sediments have had complex tectonic histories. Burial-history curves are based on the best information available to the geologist. The burial-history curve was constructed in the following way: two points.Predicting Thermal Maturity . The subsurface temperature must be specified for every depth throughout the relevant geologic past. burial-history curves represent our best understanding of the geological history of an area. This geometry is a direct consequence of ignoring compaction effects. Suppose further that local weather records indicate a yearly average surface temperature of 19° C.

some part of the section is repeated as a result of thrusting. however. SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT BURIAL-HISTORY CURVES The most common complicating factor in constructing burial-history curves is erosional removal. As an example: lowering the geothermal gradient by rapid sediment accumulation results in subsurface temperatures that are anomalously low compared to the "normal" ones that dominated previously. In other cases the surface temperature remains constant. however. we are limited only by our own creativity. the burial-history curve again begins to trend downward. burial-history curves for both hanging wall and footwall can be represented on a single diagram. temperature profiles will be based largely on guesswork. If.62 Where measured bottom-hole temperatures are not available. Causes for such events could include global warming and cooling or local climatic variations resulting from continental drift or elevation changes. but the geothermal gradient varies in response to heating or cooling events. The individual segments of each of the burial-history curves in a family will remain parallel. For example (9-7). Erosion is indicated in a burial-history curve by an upward movement of the curve. More complicated temperature histories account for changes in thermal conductivities caused by variations in lithology. the movement of hot rocks from the bottom of the overthrusted slab over cool rocks at the top of the underthrusted slab will affect . If deposition resumes later. maps of regional geothermal gradients can be useful in estimating the gradient at a particular location. Faulting can be dealt with by considering the hanging wall and footwall as separate units having distinct burial histories. the resultant thinning of the section must be represented in the entire family of burial-history curves. Given adequate data or an appropriate model on which to base complex temperature reconstructions. Whenever erosional removal occurs. The effects of thrusting on thermal maturity are not well understood. If thrusting is rapid compared to the rate of thermal equilibration between thrust sheets. two separate diagrams should be used for the sake of clarity. the data necessary for highly sophisticated temperature reconstructions are simply not available.Predicting Thermal Maturity . There is no theoretical limit to the complexity that can be introduced into our temperature histories. we can change surface temperatures through time without altering the geothermal gradient. In most cases. There are numerous other variations that can be employed in creating temperature grids. In many poorly explored areas. If part of the section is missing as a result of faulting.

63 organic maturation by causing important perturbations in subsurface temperatures. Intersections of the burial-history curve with each isotherm are marked with dots. spent by the rock in each temperature interval. Multiplying the time factor for any temperature interval by the appropriate temperature-factor for that interval gives a product called the Time-Temperature Index of maturity (TTI).400 cal/mol will approximately double with every 10° C increase in reaction temperature. we must paste them together. decreases by 1000 m. Because the rate of maturation was assumed to increase by a factor of two for every 10° C rise in temperature. Lopatin defined each time factor simply as the length of time. Studies in the Overthrust Belt of Wyoming indicate that a slow-equilibration model is superior to a simple model invoking rapid thermal equilibration. Loss of 1000 m of section by erosion during an uplift event lasting from 70 Ma to 60 Ma. increases exponentially with increasing temperature. Temperature intervals are defined by successive isotherms spaced 10° C apart. These dots define the time and temperature intervals that we shall use in our calculations. Chemical reaction-rate theory states that the rate of a reaction occurring at 90° C (a reasonable average for oil generation) and having a pseudoactivation energy of 16. Individual burial-history curves remain parallel. Index values increase or decrease regularly at higher or lower temperatures intervals. expressed in millions of years. Now we can carry out the maturity calculations. Testing of his model and the successful application of Lopatin's method in numerous published examples have confirmed the general validity of this assumption. Lopatin chose the 100°-110° C interval as his base and assigned to it an index value n = 0. This intervalTTI value represents the maturity acquired by the rock in that temperature interval during the time . Total maturity is calculated by summing the incremental maturity added in each succeeding temperature interval.(9-12) CALCULATION OF MATURITY Once the burial-history curves and temperature grids have been constructed. In order to carry out maturity calculations conveniently. However. we need to define both a time factor and a temperature factor for each temperature interval. A Time interval is the length of time that the rock has spent in a particular temperature interval. Lopatin (1971) assumed that the rate of maturation followed this doubling rule. but the distance between the two lines which bracket the erosion. for any temperature interval the temperature factor (?) was given by: ? = 2n The temperature-factor thus reflects the exponential dependence of maturity on temperature. The temperature factor. more work is required before we will understand fully how thrusting influences hydrocarbon generation and destruction. respectively.Predicting Thermal Maturity . in contrast.

In the adjoining table interval-TTI values and total-TTI values up to the present day are calculated. A good analogy can be drawn between oil generation and baking. If we put a cake in a cold oven and turn the oven on. baking will continue. but quite rapid in the last 10 my.Predicting Thermal Maturity . finally. To obtain total maturity. Figure C shows rapid burial during the first 20 Ma. In D 40 Ma of rapid burial to a depth of 4000 m was followed by a hiatus lasting 30 Ma and. the specific burial history of a rock can strongly affect its maturity. as the oven cools down. maturity continues to increase (albeit at a slower rate) because y is always greater than zero. If we turn off the oven but leave the cake inside. by 10 Ma of uplift and erosion. Maturity always increases. The first step in calculating TTI is illustrated in the following figure. even if a rock cools down. if we forget about the cake when the oven is hot and let it burn. Furthermore. In A the rock was buried at a constant rate for its entire 80-my history. we cannot "unburn" it. it can never go backward because interval-TTI values are never negative. On the other hand. no matter how much or how rapidly we cool it down. we simply sum all the interval-TTI values for the rock. the cake will bake slowly at first but will bake faster and faster as the temperature rises. where the time factors and yfactors for each temperature interval are shown on the burial-history curve. Four of the many paths by which an 80-Ma-old rock could have reached a present burial depth of 3000 m is indicated in the figure (9-21). In B burial was very slow during the first 70 Ma of the rock's existence. although at increasingly slower rates. TTI values differ appreciably among these four scenarios. followed by a nonerosional depositional hiatus for the last 50 Ma. . FACTORS AFFECTING THERMAL MATURITY Because maturity is affected by both baking time and baking temperature.64 given.(9-20) It is also possible to determine the total-TTI value at any time in the past simply by stopping the calculation at that time.

Tfu = Fort Union Formation. we usually have excellent control on rock ages through micropaleontology. the dependence of maturity on time is linear. First. so even a rather large error in baking time will not produce a catastrophic change in maturity. Wyoming. Age calls are often made within a million years.Predicting Thermal Maturity . Only in cases where micropaleontological dating was not or could not be carried out. The hiatus has been reinterpreted as an erosional unconformity (9-23) POTENTIAL PROBLEMS WITH MATURITY CALCULATIONS The most obvious errors in maturity calculations will come from inaccuracies in time and temperature data. The model includes an extensive nonerosional depositional hiatus. our uncertainties about the true values of subsurface temperatures are much greater than about time. In actuality. time data are seldom a problem. in contrast. Secondly. and can be even better in Cenozoic rocks. Km = Lance-Meeteetse formations. . Tu = undifferentiated Tertiary.65 A) Initial proposed burialhistory model for Well #1. B) Revised burial-history model for Well #1 based on the poor correlation with measured maturity data. Most logged temperatures are too low and require correction. Kc = Cody-Frontier formations. Various methods have been developed for this purpose.(9-29) Furthermore. but there is no guarantee of their accuracy in any particular case. might we anticipate possible problems with time. Family of burial-history curves for a well in the Big Horn Basin. Temperature. Present-day subsurface temperatures are difficult to measure accurately. is the single most important cause of uncertainty and error in maturity calculations. showing the evolution of the oilgeneration window through time. The sensitivity of maturity to temperature is clearly indicated by the exponential dependence of maturity on temperature predicted by the Arrhenius equation.

5 2.7 0.150 ft in the Middle Miocene.52 0.02 Atomic H/C 0.18 0.5-3 2.26? 1.25 1.06 0. even an inaccurate extrapolation into the past may not cause significant problems.27 0.00 1. do not utilize different kinetic parameters for the various kerogen types.91 1. Base Pleistocene 2 Ma Base Pliocene 5 Base Upper Miocene 11 Base Middle Miocene 50 Ma .0 3-3.Predicting Thermal Maturity .49 0.5 3.21 1.5 3-3.48 Ro 0.5 0.0 0.4 0.27 1.33? 1. 3500 ft of Pliocene.66 0.1 0.66 Even if we could measure present-day subsurface temperatures with perfect accuracy.8 0.5 TOC = Total Organic Carbon Bit/TOC = Bitumen/Total organic carbon ? indicates a poor histogram TAI = Thermal Alteration Index Ro = Vitrinite reflectance EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 2 The Black Well was drilled off the Louisiana Gulf Coast. an accurate interpretation of the ancient geothermal history may be critical.71 0.22 0.65 0.06 0. In other cases.91 1. A question of some concern comes from the previously mentioned fact that most of the maturity models treat all types of kerogen identically.6 4.08 0.5 2.5-3 2.01 0.90 0.05 0.65 0. we still would have to extrapolate the present somehow into the past.5-3 2.91 0.67 0.17 0.59 0. EXERCISES EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 1 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well.88 0. It penetrated 1000 ft of Pleistocene sediments.60 0.5-3. where presentday temperatures are maximum paleotemperatures.99 1.86 1.51 0. Source-rock data tor the Turquoise Well Depth (ft) 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500 10.51 0.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10 2-2.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1.08 0.03 0. Despite experimental evidence indicating that different kerogens decompose to yield hydrocarbons at different levels of maturity models.08 0. A plausible average surface temperature is 20° C.000 ft of Upper Miocene before being abandoned at 16. and 11.5 2.1 2. however.3 1.3 2. In many cases. Construct a family of burial-history curves for the well and calculate the present-day TTI at total depth.5-3 2.5 3.85 0.02 0.7 0. however.07 1.41? 1.5-3 3.3 Bit/TOC 0.03 0.2 0.9 1. In such cases we should be very careful about using predicted maturities unless we have some independent confirmation of the validity of our model from a comparison with measured maturity data.5 2.21 1.5-3 2. The corrected bottom-hole temperature was 270° F.8 1. particularly where Paleozoic rocks are involved.

Determine when each of the strata began to generate oil. The following Upper Cretaceous boundaries are noted: Maestrichtian-Campanian Campanian-Santonian Santonian-Coniacian Coniacian-Turonian Turonian-Cenomanian 1807 ft 2002 ft 2360 ft 2546 ft 3017 ft The Cenomanian is 480 ft thick and overlies 1000 ft of Kimmeridgian-age shale. At a depth of 1500 ft. assuming a constant geothermal gradient through time. Total original thickness of the Kimmeridgian is thought to be 1500 ft. Age data top Paleocene base Paleocene base Maastrichtian base Campanian base Santonian base Coniacian 55 Ma 65 73 83 87.5 base Turonian base Cenomanian base Cretaceous top Kimmeridgian base Kimmeridgian 91 Ma 97 144 150 156 Ma . It is also believed that 500 ft of Lower Cretaceous sediments were deposited before uplift and erosion began. Find when the rock at 3000 m began to generate oil (TTI = 10).67 EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 3 Calculate present-day TTI at 3000 m in the Red Well. micropaleontology indicates the rocks to be of Maestrichtian age. Assuming a surface temperature of 10° C and a geothermal gradient of 2° F/100 ft. draw a burial-history curve for the section penetrated and calculate maturity for the Kimmeridgian shale.5 88.Predicting Thermal Maturity . Corrected BHT (4200 m): Estimated surface temp. Time-stratigraphic data Temperature data Age (Ma) 0 2 38 65 80 100 Depth (m) 0 500 1200 2700 3000 4000 Present-day average surface temp. Evidence from related sections indicates that the Paleocene was originally about 3000 ft thick and that no other Cenozoic sediments were ever deposited. Total depth is reached at 6120 ft in Middle Jurassic rocks.end Cretaceous: 15° C 141° C 25° C EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 4 The Ultraviolet Well is spudded in Paleocene sediments.

Because of the high operations cost.000 25. Highly fractured carbonates overlie the source rock.000 23. Your responsibility is to make a recommendation regarding the nature of hydrocarbons that might be present in die prospect.500 EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 6 You have been asked to evaluate an undrilled prospect in a remote area that is available in an expensive farm-in deal. No other source rocks were noted.0° F/100 ft. The geothermal gradient was found to be 1. Time-stratigraphic data are given in the following table. The basin filled at a generally uniform rate from about 300 Ma to 100 Ma. Top of Permian Virgil Missouri Des Moines Atoka Morrow Mississippian Kinderhook Sylvan Arbuckle Age (Ma) 230 280 288 296 304 309 320 340 425 470 Period Permian 0 L. upper management has decided that gas and condensate are not economical. oil-prone source rock at about 4300m depth near the prospect. . At that time nearby orogenic activity caused the first traps to be formed during a gradual 1200m uplift lasting until 40 Ma. Carboniferous '' Ordovician '' Depth (ft) 7.500 21. "A regional study of the area suggests the probable presence of a thin.65°C/100 m and a surface intercept of 15°C are reasonable for the area.Predicting Thermal Maturity . and the surface temperature today is about 15° C.000 18.000 11. Nearby well control indicates that a geothermal gradient of 3.000 13. No other reservoirs are anticipated. evaluate the prospect. No unconformities are recognized within the Paleozoic. The traps at the prospect location formed slightly prior to the beginning of erosional removal in the basin and have retained integrity to the present. The reservoir is sealed by a thick salt layer. The following geological summary is available to you.68 EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 5 Analyze the timing of oil generation in the Pink Well. The source rock is thought to be about 300 Ma old. rich." Utilizing the principles of hydrocarbon generation and preservation. Erosional removal since the Permian probably totals about 2000 ft. they are in turn overlain at 2750m by a sandstone of excellent reservoir quality. Carboniferous '' '' '' '' E.500 27. From 40 Ma to the present about 500m of additional burial occurred.000 8.

until actually all of the oil has been produced. There is no way of knowing in advance of drilling whether or not there is going to be any oil or gas at all down there under the ground. However. since we are never able to recover all of the oil that is down there in the reservoir. And yet oil companies need to know what to expect. RESERVES Perhaps the following explanations will give you some idea of what we are up against when we come to consider quantities of the resource on which a good deal of our civilization depends. but the same considerations. once a discovery is made. The stock tank is. we are involved with a greater or less degree of uncertainty about quantities. there is no way that we can know precisely how much we have found: the geology. of a well. companies tend to use `proven' for those reserves that are believed to be present with an 85 or maybe 90 per cent degree of . Note. What they think is beyond that in the accumulation. It usually refers to what was there originally. We have to try to understand. it is desirable to be able to express our degree of confidence in it. Some might use the term to refer to the amount of recoverable oil that is believed to lie within a given radius. You may see the engineers using the term STOOIP: stock tank oil originally in place.Quantitative Assessment . This may be done via a standard deviation or by a statistical probability (see below). or predict. Because anyway there is uncertainty about this amount. even within oil companies. let alone how much. So. of the following terms: OIL IN PLACE This is the total volume of oil.69 10 . in the case of small fields. We will refer to oil. How do we handle these problems? Before we get into this. Proven reserves: Here we start to enter a minefield! Different companies have different definitions of what is proven. just what these changes amount to. is liable to change between our information points. and terms can be used equally for gas. We may distinguish between primary reserves that can be produced without any artificial assistance other than pumping. half a mile or whatever. Increasingly these days. our wells. Similarly. however. let us again emphasize that we are dealing all the time with uncertainties. measured in barrels or other units that is present in an accumulation under the ground. and oil may be produced directly into it. and therefore without any dissolved gas of significance. Now we must see how we can apply our knowledge of the geology to assessing the amounts of petroleum that we have found. First. A bald figure for `recoverable reserves' is somewhat meaningless. which controls the amounts of oil in the reservoir. which can be produced using assisted or enhanced recovery techniques. we have to remember that we are dealing with a resource and that we are very concerned with the quantities involved. or hope to find. they might designate as `probable'. secondary reserves. and hence the STOOIP refers to the oil in place in the reservoir but corrected to the volume it would occupy under surface pressure and temperature. This section is included to give an idea of what is involved. methods. We cannot regard these quantities as `reserves'. located at surface near the well-head.Quantitative Assessment So far we have been talking in rather generalized terms. Recoverable reserves: The volume of oil that can actually be produced to surface from an accumulation. before we started to take any of it out. and tertiary reserves using more exotic techniques. we have to clear a good deal of misunderstanding and misuse. unless we can be more specific about how we are going to produce them. that the proportion of the oil in place that we can recover will depend on the economics: how much money are we prepared to spend on getting it out of the ground.

and `possible' altogether. the percentage of the porosity that is occupied by the immovable water. like `proven'. meaning that we have to try to interpret in detail the environments that the sediments were deposited in. and regional and local geological interpretation. and the thickness of the reservoir govern it. Not all of a reservoir formation is going to be sufficiently porous and permeable to contribute oil to production. Again we need an average value for the field. Usually. This will be controlled by variations in the nature of the sediments that comprise the reservoir. Sometimes `possible' is also seen. even when we have information from a lot of wells. the volume of the gas cap and the water-bearing rock below the oil-water contact being discounted. if we do. to cover the reserves that have only a 15 or 10 per cent chance of being present. It may well be that it is best to avoid the terms `proven'. They refer respectively to what was there and recoverable before we started producing. So we multiply the bulk volume of the reservoir in the trap by those factors that represent the non-oil. DISCOVERED RESERVES Once a discovery of oil has been made. then we can go straight to the bulk reservoir volume containing the oil. We have to discount those parts of it that are useless and just consider the net reservoir thickness. the normal way of estimating how much has been found is to start with the volume of the reservoir within the closure of the trap. It is affected by many factors. we shall see shortly. it shrinks because gas bubbles out of it as its pressure is eased during production.Sw)] * RF * Constant FVF where: – BV is the volume of the reservoir formation within the closure of the trap above the spill-point. including the adequacy of the source rock to provide enough oil to the trap. . but what happens between and beyond our well control? – Sw is the water saturation. What anyway should we regard as net reservoir? A rather arbitrary porosity cut-off value is often used. then this factor may be little more than a guess. the higher will be the water saturation. The shape of the trap. in this case 50 per cent. faulting. if we hear simply about `reserves'. We do our best from measurements on core samples and from wireline log interpretation. and the quality and strength of the cap rock. – Fill is the `fill factor'.70 confidence or statistical probability. – N/G is the net to gross ratio. which is the percentage of the bulk volume that actually contains the oil. – ? is the porosity. Probable reserves: Equally dodgy! One definition was given above: the term may be used. – FVF is the formation volume factor. Recoverable reserves = [BV * Fill * N/G * ? * (1 . and just to qualify our figures by statistical probabilities: at least then people would know what is meant! Original and remaining reserves: These are fairly obvious. it is the remaining reserves. What this means and how we arrive at the figure. If we do not know where the gas-oil and oil-water contacts are. or rather the average porosity of the net reservoir across the entire accumulation. and what is still there for the taking at a given date. We then eliminate progressively everything from this volume that is not oil. This can be pretty subjective. that are meant. This reflects the fact that oil under the ground in the reservoir occupies more space than it does when we get it up to the surface.Quantitative Assessment . We may actually be able to measure the FVF if we have a sample of oil collected under subsurface pressures from the bottom of our well. We have not only all the problems of average porosity but remember that the size of the pores comes in here as well: the finer the sand. `probable'. to refer to a degree of confidence or probability. BV will be determined from seismic and well data.

Alternatively one may plot the frequencies as percentages of the total number of answers: the statistical probabilities. since it is about this that the standard deviation can be calculated. and again. our best estimate. somewhere within which the `true' figure must be..71 – – RF is the recovery factor. we give as our preferred figure the average of all the answers (the mean). The list is put into order from the smallest to the largest.Quantitative Assessment . however. So we usually have to base our estimate on prior experience elsewhere. The computer does the sum using these values. and to try to be as honest and objective as possible. In a sandstone reservoir. The Americans measure reservoir volume in acre-feet: area in acres multiplied by reservoir thickness in feet. The number of answers in successive reserve ranges is plotted against the size ranges themselves. until we begin to wonder whether our answer has any reality or meaning at all. there must be considerable uncertainty to say the least. Different geologists will certainly come up with different values for at least some of the input factors. for this average value. known as a Monte Carlo simulation. companies. for each of the factors we work out our best estimate. The one that has the most answers in (= the modal class of the distribution) we can regard as the most probable value -in other words. and we also specify the total range. this is commonly about 50-60 per cent. even though they may be well aware that any such figures will eventually turn out to be wrong. Then we ask it to do the same thing again. we have to multiply the figure we calculate by 7758. So we have a whole list of answers. What we are doing. If we plot out the answers on our list falling within successive size ranges (in barrels of oil). and then analysed statistically. the problem is tackled through a statistical technique.). Diagrammatic plots of the outputs from two Monte Carlo simulations. . Who is right? Whose answer should we use? Can we indeed believe any of them? Unfortunately we cannot escape from the problem. but biassing its pick towards our best estimate. and arrive at perhaps wildly different answers. any one of which could be the real value. It will be clear to anyone that. from minimum possible to maximum possible.This is because. maybe 500 or 1000 times. If we are working entirely in the metric system. in producing figures for all of these factors. we shall find that the bulk of them tend to cluster round the middle (Fig. is to multiply uncertainties by uncertainties. Note that the preferred answer that is usually used is the mean value. then. It is a figure that we cannot know exactly until we have finished producing. doubtful estimates by doubtful estimates. Then we get a computer to pick a value for each factor at random from the range we have given.. we can work out the standard deviation (the ±) which will give an idea of our confidence in our answer. To get an answer to our sum in barrels of oil. the proportion of the oil in the reservoir that we can actually recover and produce. then we don't have to worry. A constant is needed to adjust the units. More commonly. having regard to all of the geology. but it may be a good deal less from carbonates. and again. Instead of estimating single figures for the factors that go into the reserves formula. Most commonly these days. and governments must have numbers that they can use for planning purposes.

the curve represents the chance (probability) that the reserves are a certain size or greater. The way it is commonly approached is to go back to the basic conditions for oil acumulation: all of the essential requirements have to be met if there is to be oil in a particular place and that. if the engineers say that a field of so many million barrels is going to be needed to justify development and production costs.the risk factor. and 10 per cent levels of probability respectively. 50. different geologists will arrive at different figures for the probability of success. you may say. probable.Quantitative Assessment . that is exactly what it is. and possible at. in numbers. we can plot out the percentages of answers in successive size ranges cumulatively as we work down the list (Fig. there really is no such thing as the risk factor. UNDISCOVERED RESERVES This is all very well. management can then decide whether or not to take the gamble on developing the field at those odds. perhaps. For example. This is what is used to determine those reserves that may be called proven. we have to go a stage further. but rather it is the number an individual geologist might produce to reflect his/her personal interpretation of the geology.72 The output from a Monte Carlo simulation with the percentages plotted cumulatively. one of the main benefits from all of this is that it forces us to think carefully about the geological requirements for oil to be present. we can read off from the graph the chances of our field containing that much oil or more. It cannot be worked out completely objectively. but it assumes that we have already discovered oil. but also the chance of there in fact being any oil at all. Of course we try to be as scientific. then no oil. In the lower plot. Most usefully. now gives a more complete picture of the viability of an undrilled prospect . It is also used to assist management in making their exploration/development decisions. and then merely combine the probabilities to give an overall probability . By plotting the answers from the 100 per cent probability downwards. and ensures that all possibilities are considered. combined with the estimate of how much. say. the 90. turn out to be totally dry-lacking in hydrocarbons. if any one of them fails or is lacking. objective. of our confidence that there will be at least some oil. and honest as can be in assessing exploration risk. When it comes down to risk. Indeed it does not! When we are looking at exploration of the unknown. We have to give not only our best estimate of how much petroleum there might be. to give the chance of discovering certain reserves or more including the 50 per cent chance that we may find nothing at all. it doesn't take any account of the fact that our exploration well may. So this type of graph has now become one of the standard key tools in exploration/development decision. We try to assess the probability that each factor will be satisfied. .). And if all this sounds like a gambling game. as opposed to assessing what we already know to be there. the same values are discounted by a 50 per cent risk factor. for geological reasons.at least until we start also considering the costs and economics. It will give a graph which shows the probability that the reserves will be of a certain size or more. It is this sort of thing that helps to make the oil exploration business so competitive. This chance (probability) is known as the risk factor: it is an expression. Incidently. The risk factor.

otherwise we may be doing little more than guessing. knowing how rich it is. This figure is extremely imprecise and may be not much more than a guess. then use these figures for the unexplored parts of the basin. we have to assume that today we can identify and assess all of the prospects that ever will be found in the basin. merely use the average of the figures they produce. Extrapolate this smoothing line out into the future. and the area under that bit will represent what. Many `experts' have scratched their heads over the estimation of undiscovered reserves. However. the amount of oil generated. is a hypothetical figure. go for a large but very risky prospect.). 2. we can. the expected reserve estimates from our Monte Carlo simulation multiplied (discounted) by the risk factor (Fig. to believe that we can do this would be the height of conceit. if we draw a smooth line through it to even out the peaks and the troughs. let us note a number known as the risked reserves.Quantitative Assessment . and we should be on our guard against believing that it is what we shall find (it most categorically is not) or otherwise trying to read too much into it. Should we. This combines in a single estimate. or underlying each square mile of surface area. Use past statistics (number of barrels of oil found on average for each 100m of exploration drilling?) and extrapolate to future drilling. get a number of experts to make their forecasts by whatever technique they prefer and. This is known as the Delphi technique. for our `best estimate'. on average. and calculate average quantities of oil per cubic mile of sediment. this technique may bring us into the right ball-park. Undiscovered are thus what we hope to find in a prospect area or sedimentary basin in the future. or would our money be better spent on drilling a smaller but safer one? The risked reserves. If all else fails. the two elements of size and chance of success. If we have a reasonable amount of information and control. and some may be more appropriate in given circumstances than the others. Forcing these experts to agree a figure amongst them might refine the approach. 6. but some will be dry. Adding this to the original reserves will give us what is sometimes called the `ultimate reserves'-a grand total for the basin. and a number of techniques have been employed. and as such can be very useful in planning an exploration program.73 Lastly. it is a pretty wild sort of plot. ULTIMATE RESERVES So far we have been talking about a single oil accumulation or a single prospect. all of them are very dodgy . expelled. The obvious thing to do is to add together the risked reserves estimates of all the remaining prospects. We could adopt what is known as a `geochemical material balance' approach. remains to be found. qualify it by a statistical probability. Delphi was the place in ancient Greece where one went to consult the oracle about one's future. on this tack. Some of these will be successful. We could make comparisons between known and unknown basins. This kind of plot can be used also for individual basins or for the whole world. But we have to admit that. and made available for entrapment (the `charge') can be calculated. sometimes in combination. How now do we estimate what still remains to be discovered over a wider area or even an entire sedimentary basin? There really is no objective way of doing it-but still companies and governments want to know. 5. 3. 1. 4. unless we really have a lot of information (we never have enough!). There are lots of uncertainties in this but the calculation would be amenable to a Monte Carlo type of simulation. Let us look at the more important ones. however. and use the figures for the known also for the unknown ones. we are said to be consulting the oracles! All of the above techniques have been used. However. In a similar vein the amount of oil found world-wide each year from the beginning of the century can be plotted. then the area under it represents the total volume of oil found to date. This starts with the volume of mature source rock in the basin and then. for example. the built-in risk factor takes care of this. however. We might look at explored and known parts of the basin.

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