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
where hydrocarbon movement ceases and accumulation occurs. Most of this organic matter is transformed during diagenesis info very large 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. or under different diagenetic conditions. kerogen begins to decompose into smaller. and temperature increases. called catagenesis. These changes lead to a gradual cessation of microbial activity. In the late stages of catagenesis and in the final transformation stage. called metagenesis. Migration through these conduits often leads to traps. Formation of biogenic methane has been recognized for a long time. Once formed.5
1 .Organic Facies . These differences can have a significant effect on hydrocarbon generation. As temperature rises. Although the transformation process is very complex. called methanogens. Certain microorganisms. porosity and permeability decrease. These play a key role as the precursors for oil and much natural gas. however. The earliest stage of hydrocarbon generation occurs during diagenesis. As burial depth increases. the principal products consist of smaller gas molecules. these are the precursors for petroleum. more mobile molecules. oil and gas molecules can be expelled from the source rock into more permeable carrier beds or conduits. 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.
. are chemically distinct from each other.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. and thus eventually bring organic diagenesis to a halt. During this second transformation phase. thermal reactions become increasingly important. it is known that organic debris derived from plants and algae is best preserved in fine-grained sediments deposited in the absence of oxygen. but only within the last few years have we realized that in many areas a large portion of the natura!-gas reserves are biogenic. the largest of which are called kerogen. convert some of the organic debris to biogenic methane. and were formed as dead organic matter was converted to microbial tissues. and are called bitumen . In the early stages of catagenesis most of the molecules produced from kerogen are still relatively large. with many details still poorly understood. Many of the chemical compounds present in sediments are in fact derived from bacteria.
Oxidative decay of dead organic matter is a highly efficient process mediated largely by microorganisms. Some of the organic material in sediments consists of fragments of plants or algae that derived their energy from the sun. Preservation of organic material is actually a rare event.Organic Facies
THE CARBON CYCLE
Because oil and gas are generated from organic matter in sedimentary rocks. less than 1% of the annual photosynthetic production escapes from the carbon cycle and is preserved in sediments. as a consequence of the much more rapid reproduction of simple aquatic organisms. the yearly productivity of both groups is about equal. we need to understand how this organic matter came to be preserved in the rocks. Preservation of organic matter begins with photosynthesis.6
2 .Organic Facies . 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. Despite the great imbalance in biomass between terrestrial plants (450 billion metric tons [t]) and aquatic phytoplankton (5 billion t). however. comprises microbial tissue formed within the sediments by the bacterial transformation of plant and algal debris. Because of
. Most organic carbon is returned to the atmosphere through the carbon cycle. A large fraction. Zooplankton and higher animals contribute relatively little organic matter to sediments.
Nutrient availability is. Although oxidative decay destroys most of the yearly production. The three primary factors influencing the amount of organic matter in a sedimentary rock are productivity. a great deal of the oxidation of organic matter occurs within the sediments themselves. and recycling by organic decay. and that the microbes have given up trying to digest it. Each of these categories could in turn be further subdivided. Only where there is upwelling of subsurface waters can these nutrients return to the photic zone. Nutrients dissolved in waters below the photic zone therefore go unutilized. where there is local recycling of nutrients from decaying organisms and influx of fresh nutrients from terrestrial sources. the low TOC values could indicate that the remaining organic matter has no more nutritional value. carbonate supply. If this deeper water is enriched in nutrients. Total Organic Carbon (TOC) values decrease monotonically through the first 300 meters of burial before levelling out at about 0.1%. Depth could interfere with microbial diagenesis when compaction reduces pore sizes and nutrient fluxes in interstitial waters.000 billion t. Only a small fraction of this (10. or about 0. Shallowmarine environments. in fact. over vast amounts of geologic time the small fraction that escaped the carbon cycle has built up extremely large quantities of organic matter (20. There is another zone of seasonal upwelling off the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean as a result of
. and Northwest Africa that result from the movement of surface waters away from these coasts. nutrient availability would depend on such factors as water circulation patterns. high photosynthetic productivity will occur at the site of upwelling. and general water chemistry. only one molecule out of about every one million successfully negotiates the journey from living organism to the gasoline pump. For example. Although some destruction of organic material occurs during transport to the depositional environment.Organic Facies . however. orogeny and erosion. Productivity is the logical place to begin our analysis. light intensity. significant amounts of organic matter must be deposited and protected from diagenetic destruction. On the other hand. and dilution. with a preference for horizontal water movement within each density layer. suggesting that either depth or organiccarbon content eventually limits diagenesis. one of the critical parameters governing productivity. because without adequate productivity. because under normal circumstances they cannot move upward into the zone of photosynthesis.7
extensive oxidation of land-plant debris in soils.000 billion t) dispersed in fine-grained sedimentary rocks.05%) occurs in economic deposits of fossil fuels. Upwelling occurs where bulk movement of surface water away from a particular area allows deeper water to ascend to replace it.
FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANIC RICHNESS
In order for organic-rich rocks to be formed. predators. watercirculation patterns are particularly important for supplying nutrients and thus controlling productivity. paleoclimate. Each factor may be dominant under different conditions.000. When we consider inefficiencies in discovery and recovery. accumulation of organic-rich sediments cannot occur.
A partial listing of the many factors influencing productivity would include nutrient availability. much of the terrestrial organic material is already highly oxidized when it arrives in the sediments. Namibia. preservation. volcanism. In the modern world there are zones of intense seasonal upwelling off the west coasts of California. are therefore much more productive than the open ocean. Bodies of water naturally develop density stratification. temperature. Peru. In relatively unrestricted marine environments.
if on the average only 1% of organic matter is preserved. Thus if anoxia can develop. TOC values alone must therefore be used with caution. however. There are many more organic-rich facies resulting from excellent preservation than from extremely high productivity.2 mL/L is called the anoxic zone. All these areas exhibit high productivity when upwelling occurs. because some of the commonly used indicators of anoxia may be misleading. Such models are interesting. Its presence in
. and may in fact prove useful in future exploration efforts. preservation of organic matter will be much enhanced. Three factors affect the preservation (or destruction) of organic matter: the concentration and nature of oxidizing agents. oxidizing agents are probably the most crucial factor. Processes that occur in these two zones are called aerobic and anaerobic. There are.5 mL/L). landmasses.
The principal control on organic richness is the efficiency of preservation of organic matter in sedimentary environments. because marine organic matter is consumed preferentially by organisms.8
monsoonal winds that drive surface waters away from the coast. and all the other factors that influence upwelling loci is severely limited. diagenesis is restricted to anaerobic processes. especially of woody origin. increasing preservation rates is a very efficient way to increase organic richness. the remaining individuals often become dwarfed in an effort to survive in a hostile environment. and because most biological oxidation processes require molecular oxygen. wind and water circulation patterns. paleoclimatic conditions. ANOXIA. The term dysaerobic has been used to describe processes occurring in the transitional zone (0.5 milliliters (mL) per liter (L)).Organic Facies . the type of organic matter deposited. However. Anoxic sediments always contain elevated TOC values (generally above 2% and always above 1% ). All large organisms require oxygen in order to live. especially in the Palaeozoic. These anaerobic processes are inefficient compared with aerobic diagenesis. Theoretical models have been developed to predict upwelling (and consequent productivity) in ancient seas from input data on continental configurations. and the sediment-accumulation rate. Secondly. much oxic sediment also contains large amounts of organic matter. The term "anoxic" literally means "having no oxygen. The presence of undegraded marine organic material is a strong indication of anoxia. and sediments is biological.2 mL/L. and are usually limited in scope by the availability of sulfate or nitrate. because when the availability of oxygen is limited. At dissolved oxygen levels below about 0. the simplest way to limit oxidation is to limit the supply of oxygen. soils.2-0. and we could coin the term dysoxic to describe the zone itself. We call the zone in which oxygen contents are high the oxic zone. productivity is probably not as important a factor as preservation. essentially the only viable organisms are those that we call anaerobes. Anoxic sediments are not always easy to recognize." hut because of the radical change in biota that occurs at about 0. At lower levels of dissolved oxygen. After all.2 mL/L. its use in practice has been expanded to include very low oxygen levels as well. microorganisms that utilize materials like sulfate or nitrate ions instead of molecular oxygen as electron acceptors in their metabolic processes. Of these. Because most of the oxidation occurring in the water column. Anoxia is of tremendous importance in the preservation of organic matter in sediments. although some species can tolerate extremely low oxygen levels (0. First. some problems associated with their application. respectively. many species disappear. the accuracy with which we can reconstruct continental positions. the zone where oxygen falls below 0. and paleoclimates.
Color is not a reliable indicator. and its presence indicates that the anaerobic reduction of sulfate ion did occur. particularly in understanding lacustrine beds. no more oxygen can enter. OXYGEN-MINIMUM LAYER (OML). Lake deposits associated with continental rifting. Many black rocks. that most of the world's oil was generated from source beds deposited under anoxic conditions. and both the waters in the bottom layer and the underlying sediments will become anoxic. 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. although stunted burrows can be used as evidence of dysoxia. Truly stagnant basins are actually quite rare. All anoxic sediments will be very dark gray or black when deposited. are anoxic in some of the places where they have been penetrated. Among the ancient lake beds thought to have been deposited in permanently stratified waters are the well-known Green River Shale (middle Eocene. slow circulation or turnover of the water column occurs almost everywhere. and strata from several basins in China. Consumption of oxygen results from decay of dead organisms that have sunk from the photic zone above. it may well have developed after burial. then permanent density stratification will arise as a result of temperature differences within the water column. The presence of pyrite itself can also be deceptive. Nevertheless. the Elko Formation (Eocene/Oligocene. STAGNANT BASINS. most likely by absence of oxygen. very dark. anoxic sediments show preserved depositional laminae on a millimeter or submillimeter scale. once the original oxygen has been consumed in oxidizing organic matter. leading to the eventual development of a pycnocline (density interface) which prevents interchange between the two layers.Organic Facies . anoxia can be very local. Conversely. The ultimate implications of anoxia for petroleum exploration are great. Therefore. and therefore that dissolved-oxygen levels were below 0. Marine basins are seldom isolated enough to fit well into the stagnant-basin model. Lakes of the Rift Valley of East Africa are excellent modern analogs receiving much attention from both researchers and explorationists at the present time. the presence of bioturbation indicates that the bottom waters were not anoxic. The laminae prove that burrowing fauna were absent. Color should be used mainly as a negative criterion: If a rock is not very. Depths in excess of 200 m are required to prevent mixing during storms. it has been estimated. and warm climates are necessary to avoid overturn caused by freeze-thaw cycles. 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. are not rich in organic carbon. Furthermore. If an isolated body of water is deep enough. Although pyrite does indeed form under anoxic conditions. Wyoming). Lack of communication between the layers prohibits replenishment of oxygen in the bottom layer. and if the climate is subtropical or tropical. The supply of fresh oxygen is therefore limited to horizontal
. especially during the Triassic along the margins of the developing Atlantic Ocean. This oxygen minimum develops when the rate of consumption of oxygen within that layer exceeds the rate of influx of oxygen to it. Finally. The cooler. Nevada). it is instructive to consider complete stagnation. denser waters remain at the bottom. they often owe their dark color to finely divided pyrite or to particular chert phases. in fact. where photosynthesis and turbulence can no longer contribute oxygen to the water.2 mL/L. it cannot represent an anoxic facies.9
rocks therefore indicates that diagenesis was stopped prematurely. It therefore behoves us to understand the conditions under which anoxia develops. but limnic environments often are. there is no guarantee that anoxia was present at the sea floor. The oxygen minimum layer usually begins immediately below the photic zone. Lakes in failed rifts can also contain organic-rich. anoxic sediments. however.
mid-Cretaceous. whereas in a fluvially dominated system (Black Sea) the net flow of surface water is out over the sill. The result is often deposition of organic-rich laminae within evaporites. It is not coincidental that these were times of deposition of large amounts of organic-rich rocks in many parts of the world. as a result of diminished oxygen demand. Nutrients are concentrated by evaporation. In contrast. since most organic matter was destroyed within the overlying OML. Shallow Silling. Circulation is often restricted by the presence of a sill. and high hydrogen-sulfide concentrations create conditions poisonous to predators. those environments can also incorporate the features of an oxygen-minimum-layer model. and diminished bacterial activity. Any organic matter arriving in those sediments will have an excellent chance to escape oxidation. Below the OML oxygen levels again increase. Where the sill is shallow. in areas of poor circulation. Settings in which circulation is restricted are much more common than stagnant basins. Shallowly silled basins often yield evaporites. Wherever an intensely developed OML intersects the sediment-water interface. sediments will be deposited under low-oxygen conditions. It has been proposed that at certain times in the past (e. when a major transgression had greatly increased the continental shelf area. Late Devonian) the world oceans were severely depleted in dissolved oxygen. because of their connection with the open-marine realm. the shallowness of the swamps prevents the waters themselves from becoming anoxic. 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. and grazers and predatory organism are eliminated by the high salinities. Anoxia
. if the basin is deep enough. There are other ancient and modern examples of organic-rich rocks deposited under anoxic or near-anoxic conditions associated with OMLs. foreset beds within the same system are leaner in organic matter because they are deposited above the OML. to a lesser extent. permanent density stratification will develop.. an upward expansion of the OML led to a tremendous increase in the surface area covered by anoxic bottom waters. In an evaporitic environment (Karabogaz in the Caspian Sea) there is a net flow of water into the basin. Intensely developed OMLs occur in areas of high productivity and. During those times the OML expanded both upward and downward because of poor supply of oxygen to subsurface waters.10
movement of oxygen-bearing waters. Large amounts of organic material are preserved in coal swamps as a result of the combined effects of poor water circulation. In either case. 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. In times like the mid-Cretaceous. or as lateral facies equivalente thereof. with the bottom layer almost isolated from the open-marine waters. including paleoclimate and water circulation. In actuality there is a lazy turnover of the bottom waters. high influxes of organic matter. the point of connection between the restricted area and the open-marine environment. Coal swamps can develop under a variety of conditions in both marine and non-marine environments.g. Late jurassic. This depletion was probably the result of the complex interplay of several factors. However. High productivity reduces oxygen levels. but it is too slow to disturb the anoxia which develops in the bottom layer. Although an oxygen-minimum layer exists virtually everywhere in the ocean.Organic Facies . which could be excellent hydrocarbon source rocks. Evaporitic environments combine the opportunity for abundant growth of algae with ideal conditions for preservation. the waters entering or leaving the basin are near surface. Coal Swamps. Furthermore. Although circulation in coal swamps is generally sluggish. RESTRICTED CIRCULATION. the oxygen they can contribute is limited. because these horizontally moving waters also lie within the oxygen minimum layer. its intensity varies greatly.
Abyssal sediments are notoriously low in organic carbon as the result of the combined effects of high oxygen levels in abyssal waters. as a result of more rapid removal of organic material from the zone of microbial diagenesis. with their high concentrations of organic matter. the phenolic components present in lignin-derived terrestrial material are toxic to many micro-organism. The net result is a reduction in TOC values. thus preventing extensive diagenesis of such material.11
develops within the sediments rather than in the water column. The extremely high accumulation rates for biogenic carbonates and siliceous sediments in zones of high productivity promote preservation of the associated algal protoplasm. TYPE OF ORGANIC MATTER. Coals are important source rocks for gas accumulations. RAPID SEDIMENTATION AND BURIAL. In fact. and may include woody. Most depositional settings not specifically catalogued above will be more or less well oxygenated. Rapid burial is accomplished by a high influx of inorganic detritus. much of the organic material that does reach the bottom in deep waters arrives in relatively large fecal pellets.Organic Facies . all of which are chemically quite distinct from each other. Phenolic bactericides derived from lignin hinder bacterial decay in the water and throughout the sediment column. Lack of sulfate in non-marine swamps further prevents anaerobic microbial destruction of the organic matter. Furthermore. Near-shore oxidizing facies sometimes have high TOC values. forest fires. but their supposedly low potential for generating oil is to be reconsidered. but the organic material is almost invariably woody. biogenic inorganic sediment. especially in structural (woody) material. and other oxidative processes. cuticular. at very high accumulation rate dilution may become a more important factor than increased preservation. Nitrogen and phosphorus are in particular demand. Rapid sedimentation and burial con also enhance preservation.
. and more favorable for gas than for oil. Organic matter of algal (phytoplanktonic) origin is consumed more readily by organisms than are other types of organic material. because its chemical components are digestible and provide precisely the nutrients required by scavengers and predators. lignitic. The hydrocarbon-source potential of all of these oxidizing facies is low. Rapid deposition of inorganic detritus is common in turbidites and in prodelta shales. Coals also accumulate very rapidly and. because extensive decomposition occurs during its fall to the ocean floor. and low productivity in the overlying pelagic realm. their virtual absence in much terrestrial organic material. but it does spread that organic material through a larger volume of rock. Oxic Settings. It may also contain very resistent organic debris derived from erosion of ancient rocks. Rapid settling of organic debris through the water column is also important.
Although high sediment-accumulation rates enhance preservation of organic matter. renders it of little nutritional value. Dilution does not reduce the total amount of organic matter preserved. and therefore wi11 contain primarily oxidized organic matter. provide an ideal means of maintaining low-oxygen conditions. cellulosic. Any extensive organic diagenesis is therefore likely to eliminate algal organic matter first. That material which remains is dominantly of terrestrial origin. or organic material. very slow sedimentation rates. or resinous material. TOC values increase as sediment-accumulation rates increase. which settle several orders of magnitude faster than individual phytoplankton.
Although certain periods undeniably contain more than their share of anoxic rocks. a strongly developed oxygen-minimum layer. in contrast. anoxic sediments were deposited discontinuously through time and space. As in the modern oceans. dilution is far less marked. Shales. show strong dilution effects when accumulation rates are very high.Organic Facies .
There are three principal factors that affect the amount of organic matter in sedimentary rocks: primary photosynthetic productivity. dilution effects may lead to lower TOC values in spite of enhanced preservation rates. Our ability to make accurate predictions is limited. In biogenic sediments or coals. as a result of high productivity or sluggish circulation. Rapid accumulation of sediment shortens the residence time of organic matter in the zone of diagenesis and thus promotes preservation. Productivity can be predicted by locating ancient sites of marine upwellings. including stagnancy or near-stagnancy. If the rapidly accumulating sediment is mainly clastic. Direct control of the anoxia was thus probably local. and rapid burial. Consequently. however. in contrast. are not as strongly affected by dilution. There are a number of mechanisms by which oxygen depletion may be fostered and maintained. Anoxic events in the past were probably not as large in scale or as long lasting as some workers have suggested.and atmospheric-circulation patterns. It is often very difficult to separate the influences of these various factors in a particular depositional environment. and dilution by inorganic material. Because of its role in creating rocks with excellent hydrocarbon-source potential. Biogenic sediments. by uncertainties about exact continental positions and configurations in the past. It is important to be able to distinguish local anoxia or anoxia developed deep within sediments from anoxia induced by anoxic bottom waters. however. anoxia in bottom waters is a phenomenon whose effects we should learn to recognize in ancient rocks. and a very imperfect understanding of oceanic. in which the organic and inorganic materials arrive together. Facies changes from carbonates to shales may create large dilution effects that can be wrongly interpreted as indicating changes in oxygen levels. where sediment-accumulation rates are directly proportional to organic-carbon-accumulation rates. Preservation is best accomplished where oxygen is excluded from bottom waters. lack of knowledge of seawater chemistry and nutrient availability at those times. Some of the commonly applied criteria are apt to be misleading. Of these. preservation is generally the most important. To derive maximum value from our analyses. such models are not yet of much practical value for the distant past. Models that integrate the concepts of organic richness with depositional cycles and facies analysis will be valuable tools for understanding hydrocarbon systems in basins. The most reliable criteria for bottom-water anoxia are the preservation of fine depositional laminae. such events were often interrupted for long periods before anoxia was reinduced. however. effectiveness of preservation.
. and the presence of high TOC values coupled with the occurrence of undegraded marine organic matter.12
Dilution effects depend upon rock lithology. we should always strive to place the organic rich rocks in the larger context of basin evolution through time and space.
oxygen and sulfer. All compounds containing carbon atoms. One common convention is to represent all the hydrogen atoms attached to a given carbon atom by a single H. We can make other logical simplifications for longer carbon chains. Organic chemistry is thus the study of carboncontaining compounds. as it does in the real world. especially if one has to do it only occasionally. carbonates. whose structures are shown below.Organic Chemistry
Anyone who uses petroleum geochemistry must be familiar with basic chemical terminology. trace metals. however. hydrogen always forms one bond. Writing the detailed structure of a simple molecule like methane is no problem. and cyclohexane. In this chapter we restrict the usage of the term hydrocarbon to the standard chemical one. This unique property of carbon is responsible for the existence of literally millions of different organic compounds. every carbon atom forms four bonds. Carbon atoms like to form bonds with each other. except carbon dioxide.
NAMES AND STRUCTURES HYDROCARBONS
In chemical terms a hydrocarbon is a compound containing only the elements carbon and hydrogen. The structures of methane and ethane are thus represented by CH4 and CH3CH3 respectively. elsewhere in this text usage will vary. the explicit inclusion of every atom and every bond becomes extremely tedious. Petroleum and natural gas are themselves often referred to as "hydrocarbons. and indeed in every carbon compound (except a few highly unstable ones created only in laboratories). three bonds. in which one must also learn all the reactions of many classes of compounds. If one wants to draw large molecules. creating long chains and ring structures.Organic Chemistry . and organic geochemistry the study of organic compounds present in geological environments. two bonds.
Examples of hydrocarbons are methane. 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. The following representations of n-pentane are equivalent: CH3CH2CH2CH2CH3 or CH3(CH2)3CH3. and nitrogen. This objective is very different trom that of a normal course in organic chemistry. oxygen. Similarly. and metal carbides. and other elements. using a subscript on the H to denote the total number of hydrogens around that atom. ethane. sulfur. are termed organic. Several different types of shorthand have therefore developed to facilitate drawing organic molecules." but that usage is incorrect trom the chemist's point of view because those materials often contain substantial amounts of nitrogen.
. This usage is historical and does not imply that all such compounds are necessarily derived from living organisms.13
3 . In each of these compounds. The chemical reactions of interest to us are very few and are discussed only briefly.
The letter n stands for normal. Among the most important branched hydrocarbons in organic geochemistry are the isoprenoids. these molecules are called n-alkanes or nparains. We have ahready encountered n-pentane. All the compounds mentioned above are called saturated hydrocarbons or saturates. as in "alkane. Hydrogen atoms and bonds to hydrogen atoms are not shown at all. For example. giving rise to a vast number of possible structures." The first four names are irregular. The simplest series of hydrocarbons has linear structures. in contrast. because they are saturated with respect to hydrogen. The term methyl. Other adjectival forms are made by dropping the -ane ending and adding yl (for example. n-pentane and cyclohexane are represented by the line structures shown below. but the prefixes denoting the number of carbon atoms in the other alkanes are derived from Greek numbers. which we used earlier. 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. Each carbon atom is represented by a point. Branching can occur. and indicates that there is no branching in the carbon chain. which. Isoprenoids ranging in length from six to forty carbon atoms have been found in petroleum and rocks. no more hydrogen can be incorporated into the molecule without breaking it apart. is the adjectival form of the word methane. Another important group of hydrocarbons is the unsaturates. The zigzag configuration illustrated for n-pentane is adopted to show clearly each carbon atom. a CH3 (methyl) group is attached to the second carbon atom. We have also seen that carbon atoms can be arranged in rings. Note that the name of each compound ends in -ane. These cyclic compounds (called naphthenes) are named by counting the number of carbon atoms in the ring and attaching the prefix cyclo. simple inspection shows how mant' hydrogen atoms each carbon atom must have. and carbon-carbon bonds are shown as lines connecting those points. That is. In the case of 2methylhexane (C7H16) the basic structure is hexane.14
An even quicker shorthand that uses no letters at all has evolved.Organic Chemistry . Regular isoprenoids consist of a straight chain of carbon atoms with a methyl branch on every fourth carbon. Many unsaturated compounds have carbon-carbon double
. Because we know that each carbon atom forms four bonds and each hydrogen atom forms one bond. are able to combine with additional hydrogen. the names of the other nine simplest n-alkanes are given in the following table. ethyl and propyl).
Many common NSO compounds are not directly related to biogenic precursors. which are large. and kerogen are called heteroatoms. Most biological molecules are larger and more complex than the simple hydrocarbons. but they actually have completely different chemical properties from alkenes and are unusually stable. converts alkenes to alkanes and cyclic compounds during diagenesis. except that the ending -ene indicates the presence of a double bond. they do not add hydrogen easily. The circle indicates that the electrons in the double bonds are delocalized. Examples are ethene (C2H4) . Their stability permits aromatics to be important constituents of oils and sediments. The hydrocarbons present in petroleum are mostly the end products of extensive degradation of biogenic molecules. Fossil organic matter often contains a vide variety of heterocompounds.
Atoms other than hydrogen and carbon that occur in petroleum. At first glance aromatics appear to be nothing more than cyclic alkenes containing several double bonds. they do not long persist in geologic environments. sulfur. or other elements. phosphorus.15
bonds. some complex hydrocarbons that are found in fossil organic material can be related directly to individual biological precursors. Although they are very important constituents of petroleum. Some aromatic molecules are very large. the structures of which are shown below. the majority contain oxygen. Although they are unsaturated. By hydrogenation ethene thus reacts to form ethane. highly aromatic materials of
Because alkenes are highly reactive. They are named in a similar manner to the alkanes. In the laboratory they are readily converted to alkanes by the addition of hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst.Organic Chemistry . Aromatics possess a system of alternating single and double bonds within a cyclic structure. The extreme case is graphite. the compounds in which they occur are called heterocompounds. which is an almost-endless sheet of aromatic rings. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons having fused ring structures are quite common. Among the most important NSO compounds are the asphaltenes. and oxygen. these compounds are called alkenes. nitrogen. of which some are biogenic and others are formed during diagenesis. because the most common heteroatoms are nitrogen. Many of the heterocompounds present in organisms are converted to hydrocarbons during diagenesis and catagenesis. A variety of reactions. and cyclohexene (C6H10). Heterocompounds are also called NSO compounds. that is. In fact. It is this delocalization of electrons which makes aromatic compounds very stable. propene (C3H6). The hydrocarbons we discussed so far are relatively simple molecules. sulfur. Aromatics form an extremely important class of unsaturated hydrocarbons. A simplified notation for drawing these molecules permits us to represent the double-bond system by a circle within the ring. these compounds are quite different trom the majority of the organic molecules found in living organisms. they are free to move throughout the cyclic system instead of being held between two particular carbon atoms. including hydrogenafion.
and thus are seldom preserved in sediments (exceptions occur in shell material and in bones. where small amounts of preserved amino acids can be used to date specimens)
. which are aromatics having a hydroxyl group (OH) attached. but asphaltene molecules are smaller and more aromatic than most kerogens. They are rapidly metabolized by virtually all organisms. Lignin and cellulose are major constituents of humic coals. Upon decomposition lignin forms phenolic compounds. Many nonhydrocarbon molecules common to living organisms are also present in sediments.000 atomic mass units. Carbohydrates include starch. carbohydrates. providing much of the structural support for large land plants. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Among these are lignin. They have many characteristics in common with kerogen. and cellulose. It is a polymer consisting of many repetitions and combinations of three basic aromatic subunits. it is an important constituent of terrestrial organic matter. and thus tends to become concentrated as other organic matter is decomposed. Because phenols are potent bactericides. Although cellulose is quite resistant to decomposition under some conditions. however. sugars. the latter is the most abundant organic compound in the biosphere. most carbohydrates are attacked readily by microorganisms.Organic Chemistry .16
varying structure. and amino acids. lignin is rather resistant to degradation. Like lignin. Lignin is an important component of wood. Lignin monomers are linked topether to form molecules having molecular weights from 3000 to 10.
Subsurface heating causes chemical reactions that break off small fragments of the kerogen as oil or gas molecules. more complex. when the chemical and biological destruction and transformation of organic tissues begin. 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. and less regular in structure. strongly influence the ability of the kerogen to generate oil and gas. humins. having very high molecular weights. have more mineral matter than algal coals. A basic understanding of how kerogen is formed and transformed in the subsurface is therefore important in understanding how and where hydrocarbons are generated. Coals and oil shales should therefore be viewed merely as sedimentary rocks containing special types of kerogens in very high concentrations. humic acids.Kerogen
Kerogen is normally defined as that portion of the organic matter present in sedimentary rocks that is insoluble in ordinary organic solvents. slightly larger ones. If anaerobic sulfate
. The soluble portion. carbon dioxide. which are reflected in their chemical and physical properties. as well as the nature of the organic matter from which it was formed. and still larger ones. These geopolymers are the precursors for kerogen but are not yet true kerogens. 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. and sediments. soils. for example) are partially or completely dismantled. in contrast. because it has patchwork structures formed by the random combination of many small molecular fragments. Lack of solubility is a direct result of the large size of kerogen molecules. whether these hydrocarbons are mainly oil or gas. with some of the inorganic matrix often being contributed by the algae themselves.Kerogen . Diagenesis results mainly in loss of water. will be discussed in a following chapter. Large organic biopolymers of highly regular structure (proteins and carbohydrates. The detailed chemistry of kerogen formation need not concern us greatly. The smallest of these geopolymers are usually called fulvic acids. which have molecular weights of several thousand or more.
The process of kerogen formation actually begins during senescence of organisms. 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. develop after tens or hundreds of meters of burial. Each kerogen molecule is unique. and how much oil or gas can be expected. Today it is used to describe the insoluble organic material in both coals and oil shales. Algal (boghead) coals are formed in environments where the source phytoplankton lack both calcareous and siliceous skeletal components. the geopolymers become larger. Kerogen composition is also affected by thermal maturation processes (catagenesis and metagenesis) that alter the original kerogen. Coals are a subcategory of kerogen. and natural gas. and the individual component parts are either destroyed or used to construct new geopolymers. The residual kerogens also undergo important changes. as well as dispersed organic matter in sedimentary rocks. large molecules that have no regular or biologically defined structure. oil. During the course of diagenesis in the water column. Humic coals are best thought of as kerogens formed mainly from landplant material without codeposition of much mineral matter. Diagenetic and catagenetic histories of a kerogen. called bitumen. and ammonia from the original geopolymers. True kerogens. The term kerogen was originally coined to describe the organic matter in oil shales that yielded oil upon retorting.17
4 . Oil shales.
Microorganisms prefer to attack small molecules that are biogenic. They identified three main types of kerogen (called Types I. are converted into saturated or cyclic structures. About a decade ago workers at the French Petroleum Institute developed a useful scheme for describing kerogens that is still the standard today. The amount of sulfur contributed by the original organic matter itself is very small. because the bacterial enzyme systems do not know how to attack them. and their organic precursors
Transformation of organic material in sediments and sedimentary rocks. which are highly reactive. large amounts of sulfur may become incorporated into the kerogen structure. and III) and have studied the chemical characteristics and the nature of the organisms from which all types of kerogens were derived. Kerogen formation competes with the destruction of organic matter by oxidative processes. One way that we can begin is by classifying kerogens into a few general types. In a low-oxygen (reducing) environment. What is within our reach. it is somewhat fruitless to attempt a detailed discussion of the chemical composition of kerogens. it would not be of great and direct significance to exploration geologists.
The four types of kerogen. Geopolymers are more or less immune to bacterial degradation. is developing a general method of describing gross kerogen composition and relating it to hydrocarbon-generative capacity. therefore.Kerogen . Most organic oxidation in sedimentary environments is microbially mediated.18
reduction is occurring in the sediments. II. 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. in contrast. or at least look very much like biogenic molecules. In an oxidizing environment many of the small biogenic molecules will be attacked by bacteria before they can form geopolymers. Those kerogens formed under oxidizing conditions. Kerogens formed under reducing conditions will be composed of fragments of many kinds of biogenic molecules. in contrast.
. Subsequent investigations have identified Type IV kerogen as well. better organic preservation. the macerals that they are composed of. Even if such a description were possible. and ultimately of much greater practical value. Carboncarbon double bonds.
Because each kerogen molecule is unique. contain mainly the most resistant types of biogenic molecules that were ignored by microorganisms during diagenesis.
Cellulose and lignin are major contributors. Type II (liptinitic) kerogens are also high in hydrogen. which mainly contain polycyclic aromatic systems. Occurrences of Type I kerogens are limited to anoxic lakes and to a few unusual marine environments. The shaded areas approximately represent diagenesis. catagenesis. because they all have great capacities to generate liquid hydrocarbons. Type III (humic) kerogens. Type IV kerogens contain mainly reworked organic debris and highly oxidized material of various origins. Type III kerogens are composed of terrestrial organic material that is lacking in fatty or waxy components. Type I (algal) kerogens have the highest hydrogen contents because they have few rings or aromatic structures. are normally considered to generate mainly gas. unless they have small inclusions of Type II material. Type II kerogens arise from several very different sources. Heteroatom contents of kerogens also vary with kerogen type. Hydrogen contents of immature kerogens (expressed as atomic H/C ratios) correlate with kerogen type. and metagenesis. successively. The best-known example is the Green River Shale. Type I and Type II kerogens. leaf waxes. from Wyoming. have lower hydrogen contents because they contain extensive aromatic systems. cellulose.
. The various Type II kerogens are grouped together. Type III kerogens have high oxygen contents because they are formed from lignin. Most Type II kerogens are found in marine sediments deposited under reducing conditions. Type IV kerogens.19
Type I kerogen is quite rare because it is derived principally from lacustrine algae. They also include contributions from bacterial-cell lipids. and fossil resin. pollen and spores. contain far less oxygen because they were formed from oxygen-poor lipid materials. 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. including marine algae. have the lowest hydrogen contents. Utah. In the immature state. phenols.
Van Krevelen diagram showing maturation pathways for Types 1 to IV kerogens as traced by changes in atomic HIC and OIC ratios. despite their very disparate origins. of middle Eocene age.Kerogen . in contrast. Type I kerogens have high generative capacities for liquid hydrocarbons. They are generally considered to have essentially no hydrocarbon-source potential. and Colorado. and carbohydrates. in contrast. Type IV kerogens are highly oxidized and therefore contain large amounts of oxygen. Type III kerogens have much lower hydrocarbon-generative capacities than do Type II kerogens and.
" Metagenesis begins long before true rock metamorphism. metagenesis is not equivalent to "metamorphism. in some cases. wherever possible. Sulfur is only incorporated into kerogens in large quantities where sulfate reduction is extensive and where Fe +2 ions are absent (organic-rich. Because lignins and carbohydrates contain little nitrogen. Nitrogen is derived mainly from proteinaceous material. a term taken trom coal petrology. which occurs after catagenesis. Many high-sulfur kerogens are also high in nitrogen. nonclastic sediments). Thus few kerogens consist of a single maceral type. A list of the most common macerals and their precursors is given in the table presented earlier in this chapter. interrelated. but it also continues through the metamorphic stage. which is destroyed rapidly during diagenesis. break off small molecules and leave behind a more resistant kerogen residue. 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. The biggest problem comes in identifying Type III kerogen. Thermal decomposition reactions. Although the terms catagenesis and oil generation are often used synonymously. whereas hydrocarbon generation focuses on the production of hydrocarbon molecules. Despite its name. Kerogen sulfur. occur when a kerogen is subjected to high temperatures over long periods of time. they are not precisely equivalent. The correspondence is not perfect. Catagenesis and hydrocarbon generation occur concurrently. but they really represent different aspects of the same process. Microscopic organic analysis has reached a fairly high level of refinement and is often capable of assessing kerogen type with good accuracy. 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.20
Sulfur and nitrogen contents of kerogens are also variable and. forcing us to make assumptions about the source organisms. because there is not a perfect biological separation of the various types of living organic matter. The different types of kerogen particles are called macerals. represents drygas generation.
KEROGEN MATURATION INTRODUCTION
Very important changes. they are to kerogen what minerals are to a rock. most terrestrially influenced kerogens are low in nitrogen. however. in contrast. The small molecules eventually become petroleum and natural gas. In this text we shall use the terms somewhat interchangeably. Catagenesis refers to transformations of kerogen molecules. In others the original fabric has disappeared completely. The kerogen in a given sedimentary rock includes many individual particles that are often derived from a variety of sources. It is possible to make a reasonably good correlation between kerogen type based on chemical characteristics and kerogen type based on visual appearance. In principle. Metagenesis. Macerals are essentially organic minerals. High-sulfur kerogens (and coals) are almost always associated with marine deposition. Maceral names were developed by coal petrologists to describe. however.Kerogen . called maturation.
. because fresh waters are usually low in sulfate. anoxic. the materials from which a maceral was derived. By convention the term catagenesis usually refers to the stages of kerogen decomposition during which oil and wet gas are produced. Most high-nitrogen kerogens were therefore deposited under anoxic conditions where diagenesis was severely limited. they represent fundamentally different perspectives. called catagenesis and metagenesis. In many cases the original cellular structure is still recognizable. proving the origin of the particle. is derived mainly from sulfate that was reduced by anaerobic bacteria. especially when we are discussing both aspects simultaneously. Kerogen types are defined by the morphologies of the kerogen particles. marine.
the more hydrocarbons it can yield during cracking. Furthermore. The more hydrogen a kerogen contains. Because many of the light product molecules are rich in hydrogen. of course. as evidenced by low maturity. including the Miocene Monterey Formation of southern California. the chemical process of maturation never stops completely. even if drastic decreases in temperature occur. oil. the cracking of any organic molecule requires hydrogen. thus allowing us to judge the extent to which kerogen maturation has proceeded. provided that the hydrogen content of the kerogen was known prior to the onset of catagenesis. This complex interplay between the effects of time and temperature on maturity is discussed in a later chapter. because time also plays a role. 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. II. simply because the longer time available compensates for lower temperatures. it is also true that other changes in kerogen properties have little or nothing to do with it. the rates of catagenesis are generally not important at temperatures below about 70° C. 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. and thus are not necessarily valid indicators of hydrocarbon generation. high-sulfur oils found in a number of areas. the residual kerogen gradually becomes more aromatic and hydrogen poor as catagenesis proceeds. These reactions are intimately related to important changes in the chemical structure of kerogen. Kerogen maturation is not a reversible process-any more than baking a cake is reversible. The composition of the products (bitumen. All kerogens become increasingly aromatic and depleted in hydrogen and oxygen during thermal maturation. It is impossible to set precise and universal temperature limits for catagenesis. Old rocks will often generate hydrocarbons at significantly lower temperatures than young rocks. There is therefore no necessary cause-and-effect relationship
. In the late stages of maturity. As we saw earlier. Chemical reaction-rate theory requires that the rates of reactions decrease as temperature decreases. Kerogen particles become darker during catagenesis and metagenesis. is to monitor hydrocarbon generation. much as a cookie browns during baking. 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.
EFFECTS OF MATURATION ON KEROGENS
Kerogen undergoes important and detectable changes during catagenesis and metagenesis. but it also states that at any temperature above absolute zero reactions will be occurring at some definable rate.21
This chapter will focus on those changes in the residual kerogen that accompany catagenesis. but they are not necessarily identical with hydrocarbon generation.Kerogen . The real reason for following kerogen catagenesis. The most important implication of these chemical changes is that the remaining hydrocarbongenerative capacity of a kerogen decreases during catagenesis and metagenesis. There is a steady color progression yellow-goldenorange-light brown-dark brownblack as a result of polymerization and aromatization reactions. Types I. Nitrogen loss occurs primarily during late catagenesis or metagenesis. and III kerogens will therefore be very similar chemically. after hydrogen loss is well advanced. Although it is obvious that many measurable changes in kerogens are related to hydrocarbon generation. much of the sulfur is lost in the earliest stages of catagenesis. and gas) will be discussed in a following chapter. Nitrogen and sulfur are also lost from kerogens during catagenesis. In contrast. For practical purposes. Some of these changes can be measured quantitatively. however. Furthermore.
which are unpaired electrons not yet involved in chemical honds. Kerogens. Cracking often produces free radicals. Bitumen generation occurs mainly during catagenesis. during metagenesis the chief product is methane. As kerogen matures and becomes more aromatic. The intensity and wavelength of the fluorescente are functions of kerogen maturity. These small compounds are much more mobile than the kerogen molecules and are the direct precursors of oil and gas. has been widely and successfully applied in assessing kerogen maturity. The more random a kerogen's structure. the visual appearance of kerogen also does not change during catagenesis: kerogen types are generally recognizable until the particles become black and opaque. however.Kerogen . Some of these are hydrocarbons. One property that is strongly affected. there would be a large and continuous build-up of bitumen in the rock as a result of catagenetic decomposition of kerogen. the technique. 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. its structure becomes more ordered. and because vitrinite particles also occur in kerogens. The difference between the two curves represents bitumen expelled from the rock or cracked to light hydrocarbons. Some properties of kerogen change very little during catagenesis.22
between kerogen darkening and hydrocarbon generation. Free-radical concentrations can be measured by electron-spin resonance. and which can be used to gauge the extent of molecular reorganization. contain large numbers of unpaired electrons. and the less it will be reflected. carbon-isotopic compositions of kerogens are affected little by maturation. while others are small heterocompounds. Both curves are highly
. These structural reorganizations bring about changes in physical properties of kerogens. because the flat aromatic sheets can stack neatly. The concentration of free radicals in a given kerogen has been found to increase with increasing maturity. resulting in lower bitumen contents in the source. A general name tor these molecules is bitumen. What actually occurs. small molecules are broken off the kerogen matrix. Except for darkening. Kerogens often fluoresce when irradiated. For example.
Plot of bitumen generation as a function of maturity (dashed fine) compared to bitumen remaining in rock (solid line). somewhat beyond the oil-generation window. and no guarantee that a particular kerogen color always heralds the onset of oil generation. especially highly aromatic ones. called vitrinite reflectance. is the ability of kerogen particles to reflect incident light coherently. the more an incident light beam will be scattered.
As kerogen catagenesis occurs. Because coal rank is merely a measure of coal maturity. is that some of the bitumen is expelled from the source rock or cracked to gas. If neither expulsion from the source rock nor cracking of bitumen occurred.
Numerous methods exist for tracing the history of a kerogen and determining its original chemical and physical characteristics.23
idealized. we cannot always define the limits of hydrocarbon generation with great confidence. The chemical composition and morphology of kerogen macerals depend both on the type of original organic matter and on diagenetic transformations. 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. Sulfur-rich kerogens decompose easily because carbon-sulfur hbonds are weaker than any bonds in sulfur-poor kerogens. The chemical composition of a kerogen controls the timing of hydrocarbon generation and the type of products obtained. because natural variations among samples cause much scatter in experimental data. those rocks that generate few hydrocarbons may not expel them until they have been cracked to gas. high-sulfur oils at low levels of maturity.Kerogen . when large geopolymers are created from biological molecules. In very lean rocks expulsion may occur so late that cracking of the generated bitumen is competitive with expulsion. Source rocks that generate large amounts of hydrocarbons early are likely to expel those hydrocarbons early. High-sulfur kerogens generate heavy. this result is hardly surprising.
Kerogen begins to form during early diagenesis. Microfracturing is related to overpressuring. In such cases the expelled products will be mainly gas. Timing and efficiency of expulsion depend on a number of factors. which in turn is partly attributed to hydrocarbon generation itself. hydrogen-poor. as measured by parameters such as vitrinite reflectance. Effective generation of hydrocarbons requires that the generated products be expelled from the source-rock matrix and migrated to a trap. including rock physics and organic-geochemical considerations. whereas those kerogens that contain few lipids will generate mainly gas. Resinite consists of polymerized terpanes (ten-carbon isoprenoids) that can decompose easily by reversing the polymerization process. Thus. residual kerogen as well as small molecules that are the direct precursors for petroleum and natural gas. 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. however. Rich rocks will become overpressured earlier than lean ones and thus will also expel hydrocarbons earlier. Catagenesis of kerogen produces a more aromatic. We shall consider the latter briefly here. Kerogens formed from resinite will generate condensates or light oils quite early. Other kerogens usually follow a more traditional model.
. Several methods exist for estimating the extent to which hydrocarbon generation has occurred in a given kerogen. It has become apparent in recent years that not all kerogens generate hydrocarbons at the same catagenetic levels. Given the significant chemical differences among the various types of kerogens. although we know that oil generation does occur during the phase we call catagenesis. Conversely. Candidates for early expulsion would be very organic rich rocks and those containing resinite or high-sulfur kerogens. Kerogens formed from lipid-rich organic material are likely to generate liquid hydrocarbons.
many unanswered questions remain about the processes that transform bitumen into petroleum. but we are not certain whether they occur mainly within the source rock or during migration through the reservoir rock. Most of the NSO compounds appear in the remaining two fractions. but they also exhibit many important differences. and steranes. One fraction consists mainly of saturated hydrocarbons. and resins. Much of this variety is related to source-rock facies and the composition of the kerogens that generated the bitumens. A second fraction consists of aromatic hydrocarbons and some light sulfur-containing compounds. and cyclics. We also do not know how much of the change involves chemical reactions.000. Few of these heterocompounds have been studied carefully. are more commonly studied. The final fraction contains very large. The large sizes of asphaltene units render
. Each of the fractions contains certain types of chemical compounds. and Natural Gas
Petroleum obtained from reservoir rocks and bitumen extracted from fine-grained rocks have many similarities. have been studied in petroleums. triterpanes. Maturity also exerts control over bitumen and petroleum composition. while others are only trace contributors. In order to understand bitumen and petroleum compositions and to use them for exploration. like benzene and toluene. NSOs. contains a wide variety of small and medium-sized molecules with one or more heteroatoms. Both bitumens and petroleums exhibit a wide range of compositions. however. There is no doubt that they are related. However. and Natural Gas -
5 . 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. Major compositional changes occur in going from bitumen to petroleum. Asphaltenes tend to aggregate into stacks because of their planarity. This chapter will compare and contrast bitumen and petroleum compositions and examine the factors responsible for the observed differences. indeed. and how much is due to physical separation of chemical compounds having very different properties. n-alkanes. branched hydrocarbons (including isoprenoids). Heavier aromatic and naphthenoaromatic hydrocarbons. Reservoir transformations in some cases greatly affect oil composition and properties. Such correlations can be particularly useful in establishing genetic relationships among samples. The influence of the lithologies of source and reservoir rocks on these compositional changes is poorly understood.24
Bitumen. we first separate a crude oil or a bitumen into several fractions having distinct properties. The lighter of these fractions. and form complexes with molecular weights of perhaps 50. Petroleum. variously called polars.
COMPOUNDS PRESENT IN BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM GENERAL CLASSES OF COMPOUNDS
Both bitumen and petroleum contain a very large number of different chemical compounds.Bitumen. Light aromatic hydrocarbons. Bitumen and petroleum compositions can also be used as tools in correlating samples with each other. particularly those derived from diterpanes. bitumen is almost universally accepted as the direct precursor for petroleum. Some of these are present in relatively large quantities. but these compounds are lost from bitumens during evaporation of the solvent used in extracting the bitumen from the rock. highly aromatic asphaltene molecules that are often rich in heteroatoms. Petroleum. Saturated hydrocarbons are the most thoroughly studied of the components of petroleum and bitumen because they are the easiest to work with analytically. In order to investigate the individual compounds present.
However. even-carbon homologs predominate as strongly as do the oddcarbon homologs among the n-alkanes.
Biomarkers. although we know for certain that the biomarker molecule is biogenic. because the concentration of n-alkanes often decreases with increasing carbon number. the CPI is 1. which are derived from biogenic precursor molecules.or even-carbon homologs is evident. The most useful biomarkers serve as indicators of the organisms from which the bitumen or petroleum was derived. Many of the compounds and classes of compounds that we find in crude oils and bitumens are called biomarkers. The average of two ranges is taken to minimize bias produced by the generally decreasing n-alkane concentrations with increasing number of carbon atoms. and Natural Gas . where input of terrestrial n-alkanes is minimal and diagenetic conditions are highly reducing. Petroleum. Carbon Preference Index. especially 23. marine algae produce n-alkanes that have a maximum in their distribution at C-17 or C22.) Even-carbon preferences occur principally in evaporitic and carbonate sediments. we are unable to use it as an "index fossil" for specific organisms. 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. Their high concentration in bitumens and oils is best explained by their existence in plant and algal lipids.0. or CPI. of course. whereas in other instances we may be able to limit the possible precursors to only a few species. If the number of odd. Sediments are also known that exhibit a strong preference for n-alkanes having an even number of carbon atoms. Their n-alkane distributions reflect this mix. and 31 atoms. and by their catagenetic formation from long-chain compounds such as fatty acids and alcohols.Bitumen. depending upon the species present. however. Other compounds. 25. and no preference for either odd. (Among the acids and alcohols present in living organisms. or members of the n-alkane series. In a few cases specific precursor organisms or molecules can be identified. In contrast. such as pentane or propane. These compounds. Because of their molecular complexity and heterogeneity. but their sources are simply no longer recognizable due to diagenetic and catagenetic transformations. receive contributions of n-alkanes from both terrestrial and marine sources. an abbreviation for biological markers. of biological origin. For the most part n-alkanes present in terrestrial plants have odd numbers of carbon atoms. In most cases. however. 27.
FACTORS AFFECTING COMPOSITION OF BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM SOURCE AND DIAGENESIS
Biomarkers n-Alkanes were among the first biomarkers to be studied extensively.and even-carbon members is equal. asphaltene molecules have not been studied in detail. CPI values can therefore
. These n-alkanes are believed to be formed by hydrogenation (reduction) of longchain fatty acids and alcohols having even numbers of carbon atoms. 29. The distributions are quite sharp. Many sediments.25
them insoluble in light solvents. Another important indication of the origin of n-alkanes is the distribution of individual homologs. If odd-carbon homologs predominate. or of the diagenetic conditions under which the organic matter was buried. the lower-carbon homologs are given more weight in the calculation.0. are essentially molecular fossils. Asphaltenes can thus be removed from oils or bitumens in the laboratory or refinery by adding a light hydrocarbon. the CPI is greater than 1. They are. 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).
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.
COMPARISON OF BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM
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.
Bitumen, Petroleum, and Natural Gas -
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.
6 .Migration . Laminated source rocks may therefore expel hydrocarbons with greater efficiency than massive rocks. microfracturing. and pressure release can be repeated. Once the internal pressure has returned to normal. In order to understand the complex sequence of events that we call migration.
. Momper's value has been widely accepted as a reasonable average.Migration
Migration is the movement of oil and gas within the subsurface. One occurs most commonly as a result of microfracturing induced by overpressuring during hydrocarbon generation.
PRIMARY MIGRATION MECHANISMS
Many theories about primary migration (expulsion) have been popular at various times. An important implication of the microfracturing model is that expulsion cannot take place until the strength of the source rock has been exceeded. Accumulation is the concentration of migrated hydrocarbons in a relatively immobile configuration. particularly along lines of weakness such as bedding planes. Each of these steps is quite distinct from the others. Diffusion would therefore have to be coupled with a powerful concentrating force to yield accumulations of appreciable size. Traps are the means by which migration is stopped and accumulation occurs. When the internal pressures exceed the strength of the rock. we must look at each of these steps separately. any contribution by diffusion will be overwhelmed by that from other expulsion mechanisms. but those that have been discounted will not be discussed here. where they can be preserved over long periods of time. whereas accumulation of hydrocarbons requires concentration. and overpressuring commences anew. expulsion. Secondary migration is the movement of oil and gas within this carrier bed. Diffusion has been shown to be active on at least a minor scale and over short distances in carefully studied cores. lowpermeability source rock into a carrier bed having much greater permeability. it involves expulsion of hydrocarbons from their fine-grained. 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. but will describe the most widely held views on the dominant mechanisms of primary and secondary migration and accumulation. Its importance is probably limited to the edges of thick units or to thin source beds. The hydrocarbons within the pores then become isolated again because of the impermeability of the waterwet source rocks to hydrocarbons. and solution in gas. microfracturing occurs. This chapter wi11 not go into the physics and chemistry of migration in detail. where pre-existing light hydrocarbons bleed out of the rocks prior to the onset of significant generation and expulsion. By far the most popular mechanism invoked today to explain primary migration is expulsion of hydrocarbons in a hydrophobic (oily) phase. There appear to be three distinct ways in which oilphase expulsion can occur. Many cycles of pressure buildup. Based on empirical evidence. oil-phase expulsion. Furthermore. During intense hydrocarbon generation. Primary migration is the first phase of the migration process. Although the exact threshold value must vary considerably as a function of rock lithology and other factors. Today there are only three mechanisms of primary migration that are given serious consideration by most petroleum geochemists: diffusion. it is probably most effective in immature rocks. the microfractures heal. The main problem with diffusion as an important mechanism of migration is that diffusion is by definition a dispersive force.
most of the hydrocarbons are expelled. Primary migration is difficult and slow.30
Once the threshold has been exceeded. The third mechanism. where they do exist. Thus a source rock lying between two sands will expel hydrocarbons into both carrier beds.
. Of course. Massive. and assuming that expulsion of hydrocarbons is ten times as efficient as expulsion of NSO compounds. expulsion can be lateral. Therefore the threshold must represent not only a hurdle to be cleared by the bitumen before it can leave the source rock. the migrating fluids will take them. hydrocarbons will be expelled in any direction that offers a lower pressure than that in the source rock. Expulsion of hydrocarbons is facilitated because water-mineral and water-water interactions no longer need be overcome. Sand stringers within shale units can provide secondary migration conduits for hydrocarbons sourced in the shales. depending upon the carrier-bed characteristics of the surrounding rocks. we conclude that solution in gas is a minor mechanism for oil expulsion. As soon as easier paths become available. requires that there be a separate gas phase. Thus inefficiency of expulsion is responsible for much of the difference in composition of bitumen and petroleum that we noted earlier. Because neither case is of great general significance for petroleum formation. upward. In most cases the distances of primary migration are probably between 10 centimetres and 100 m. By comparing the average hydrocarbon compositions of bitumen and crude oil. also make excellent secondary-migration pathways. Because the source rock is overpressured." We can only estimate the fraction of the bitumen left in the source rock during microfractureinduced expulsion. but it does give some idea of the efficiency of expulsion. Finally. it would be expected only in the late stages of catagenesis or in source rocks capable of generating mainly gas.
DISTANCE AND DIRECTION
The distances traversed by hydrocarbons during primary migration are short. this early expulsion mechanism seems to be limited to rocks having very high original contents of lipids. Primary migration is unquestionably the most difficult part of the entire migration process.Migration . Such a phase could only exist where the amount of gas far exceeds the amount of liquid hydrocarbons. expulsion of oil dissolved in gas. or downward. therefore. particularly in brittle carbonate and opal-chert source rocks. but the mechanism by which overpressuring is achieved is not understood. we can estimate that once the expulsion threshold is reached the expulsion efficiency for bitumen is about 50%. Fracture and joint systems. but a large proportion of NSO compounds and heavier hydrocarbons are left behind. A second way in which oil-phase expulsion can occur is from very organic-rich rocks prior to the onset of strong hydrocarbon generation. Thus primary migration ends whenever a permeable conduit for secondary migration is reached. The organic matter expelled consists mainly of lipids that were present in the sediment during deposition and diagenesis. Because the driving force for microfracture-induced primary migration is pressure release. In most cases hydrocarbons are generated within short distances of viable secondary-migration conduits. Therefore. unfractured source-rock units are relatively rare. this approach is rather approximate. This expulsion process probably releases internal pressures in the rock. because petroleum is being forced through rocks having low matrix permeabilities. oil-phase expulsion can take place when bitumen forms a continuous network that replaces water as the wetting agent in the source rock. but also an "exit tax. This type of expulsion is probably only operative in very rich source rocks during the main phase of oil generation. primary migration may be of poor efficiency.
we say that accumulation has occurred. If water is flowing in the subsurface in the same direction as hydrocarbons are moving by buoyancy. can modify hydrocarbon movement. In contrast. Hydrocarbons are almost all less dense than formation waters.31
SECONDARY MIGRATION MECHANISM
Once hydrocarbons are expelled from the source rock in a separate hydrocarbon phase into a secondary-migration conduit. A third force-namely. When hydrocarbons cease moving. if bulk water movement opposes the direction of buoyant movement. These modifications to the overall scheme are probably minor. and becomes stuck until either the buoyant force or the capillary entry pressure changes. whereas capillary-entry pressure retards or stops it. which is resistance to entry of the hydrocarbon globule or stringer into pore throats. The upward buoyant force is partly or completely opposed by the capillary-entry pressure.Migration . the globule cannot enter. the globule must deform to squeeze into the pore. That is. the pore throat is very tiny or if the buoyant force is small.
Retardatin of buoyant movement as an oil globule (X) is deformed to fit in to a narrow pore throat (Y). This fact has important implications for tracing migration pathways through a thick conduit. Where faulting or facies changes create impassable barriers (capillary-entry pressure exceeds buoyant force). Hydrocarbons are thus capable of displacing water downward and moving upward themselves. the force required to deform the oil globule enough to enter the pore throat. Structural contours on the top of the carrier bed will
. Buoyancy promotes migration. the globule will squeeze into the pore throat and continue moving upward. the more deformation is required. If the upward force of buoyancy is large enough. then the rate of hydrocarbon movement should be enhanced somewhat. and therefore are more buoyant. The smaller the pore throat. 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. migration may have to proceed at an oblique angle to structural contours. however. Coalescence of globules of hydrocarbons after expulsion from the source rock therefore increases their ability to move upward through water-wet rocks. requiring only the existence of two forces. Whenever a pore throat narrower than the globule is encountered. Thus movement within a confined migration conduit will be updip perpendicular to structural contours whenever possible. secondary migration will cease until either the capillary-entry pressure is reduced or the buoyant force is increased.
Opposing the buoyancy is capillary-entry pressure. hydrodynamic flow. subsequent movement of the hydrocarbons will be driven by buoyancy. This model is very simple. hydrocarbons entering the land from an underlying source rock will move toward the top of the sand even as they migrate laterally updip. but it is not essential and does not change our basic model. secondary migration will occur both laterally and vertically. If the capillary-entry pressure exceeds the buoyant force.
DISTANCE AND DIRECTION
Secondary migration occurs preferentially in the direction that offers the greatest buoyant advantage. Within massive sandstone. then the rate of hydrocarbon transport will be retarded. If.
In the old days. are basins in which lateral migration distances do not exceed a few tens of kilometers. distances of several thousand feet are not unheard of. can offer possible pathways (although sometimes rather tortuous ones) for vertical migration. The problem in discussing long-distance migration is that such cases are rare. for example. not only because they often juxtapose carrier beds from different stratigraphic horizons. Today we believe that hydrocarbons migrate as a separate phase. The absence of both tectonic and stratigraphic barriers permits long-distance migration. large drainage areas and chances for very large accumulations. Lateral migration is therefore often stymied. Stacked sands in a paleodelta. This model greatly simplifies the problem of accumulation. because now accumulation can occur where the buoyancy-driven movement of the hydrocarbon phase is stopped or even strongly impeded. the process of hydrocarbon accumulation was somewhat mystical. all must have migrated long distances. Cap rocks having low
. the largest hydrocarbon deposits known. by definition. 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). Migration updip within a single stratum can accomplish a large amount of "vertical" migration rather painlessly. Drainage area is one of the most important factors influencing the size of hydrocarbon accumulations. Indeed. Faults may play an important role in vertical migration. There is no a priori reason why secondary migration cannot be a very-long-distance phenomenon. as a result of both tectonic disruption and facies changes related to tectonic events. and the Saudi Arabian crude oils. at which time they suddenly became immiscible with the water and formed a separate hydrocarbon phase. however. leading to smaller fault-bounded accumulations and vertical migration. otherwise it is impossible to account for the incredible volumes of hydrocarbons in place today. including the Athabasca Tar Sands of western Canada. when migration was thought to occur mainly in water solution. Nevertheless. and has provided as carrier beds continuous blankets of sand juxtaposed with these source rocks. Hydrocarbons had to remain in solution until they reached the trap. 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. Most basins. Long-distance migration implies. It is possible to have lateral migrations of as much as a few hundred kilometers in exceptional circumstances. Vertical migration can also occur across formations. but also because an active fault or the brecciated zone adjacent to a fault may itself have high permeability. Lack of long-distance migration opportunities implies that supergiant and giant accumulations are far less likely and that exploration targets will be smaller. the heavy oils in the Orinoco Belt of Venezuela. Various mechanisms for exsolution were proposed to explain how all this was supposed to happen. Vertical migration distances can also be considerable. although it should be remembered that there are two fundamentally different types of vertical migration. Much more common. are broken up tectonically and have poor lateral continuity of carrier beds. The question of long-distance migration has been much discussed and disputed. thus providing a potentially very effective system for combined vertical and lateral migration. however. Vertical migration across stratigraphic boundaries is more difficult.Migration . Unconformities also can juxtapose migration conduits. However.32
in general be more useful than contours on its base.
a fractured shale that is both source and reservoir. 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.33
permeabilities to hydrocarbons provide barriers to migration: that is.
Most hydrocarbon traps are either structural or stratigraphic. rocks whose capillary-entry pressures are high enough to overcome hydrocarbon buoyancy.
Cross section across the Rhine Graben of West Germany showing the discontinuity of strata as a result of extensional tectonism endemic to rift basins. This model requires. The much smaller Antelope Field produces from the Mississippian Bakken Formation. it remains water wet. The seal prevents vertical migration from the reservoir rock into overlying strata. Accumulations are small because drainage areas are small. and will be covered separately.
. Fracturing associated with high races of oil generation in the Green River Shale has created a supergiant accumulation at Altamont. The simple principle behind a kinetic trap is that hydrocarbons are supplied to the trap faster than they can leak away. the low-permeability sands become filled with gas. The Elmworth Field in the Alberta Deep Basin of Canada is the prototype for kinetic gas accumulations. No traditional seal exists.
CLASSICAL TRAPS. Thus the Elmworth Field exhibits a water-over-gas contact. Seals in the traditional sense of the word may not exist.
Kinetic traps represent a fundamentally new concept in trapping mechanisms for hydrocarbons. Because the high permeability sand updip allows gas to migrate rapidly through. that strong hydrocarbon generation and migration is going on today.Migration . Because gas generation is very rapid. while the structure or lithologic change prevents lateral updip migration. and vertical migration becomes important. The low permeability sand thus creates a bottleneck to gas migration. Classical traps are well understood. Gas production is actually from the low-permeability sand rather than from the high-permeability sand updip and downdip. Much of the hydrocarbon storage at Antelope is apparently in silts and sands juxtaposed with the producible Bakken reservoir. Lateral migration is of necessity short distance. 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. of course.
especially methane. As soon as two immiscible phases are formed. large accumulations have formed despite high rates of leakage. Despite the rarity of tar-mat seals. and thus are not expelled as efficiently with the oil phase. 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. and would be incapable of sealing accumulations for long geologic periods. Once expulsion has occurred. The base of the gas hydrate zone forms a pronounced seismic reflector that often simulates bottom contours and cuts across bedding planes.
Formation of crystalline hydrates of natural gas provides an extremely efficient trapping mechanism for natural gas. The polar (NSO) compounds interact most strongly with both mineral surfaces and water molecules. tar mats may provide the only possible means for retaining any hydrocarbons. Methane is by far the most commonly trapped gas molecule. The polar molecules once again interact most strongly with interstitial water and mineral surfaces. because much of the methane trapped is biogenic and was formed in young. In cases where no other structural or stratigraphic trapping mechanism exists. The technology necessary for producing these hydrocarbons has not yet been developed. the quantities of gas in such accumulations are huge. It will therefore migrate much faster and
. but it may also include some heavier hydrocarbons dissolved in the gas. there may be a chromatographic effect during secondary migration. Phase changes occur as a result of decreases in pressure and temperature during migration. At the present time the vast potential of gas-hydrate accumulations is just beginning to be recognized. but in the future gas-hydrate accumulations may be of great economic significance. Because intense oil generation is going on now. however. unconsolidated sediments that would have no other means of retaining the methane. One important feature of methane hydrates is that they are much more efficient at storing methane than is liquid pore water. Cap-rocks in those fields are often poor. these changes in temperature and pressure can cause separation of the original phase into a liquid phase and a gas phase. The gas phase will. and the poor producibilitv of the hydrocarbons they trap. and in zones of permafrost.
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. and thus get left behind as the oil globule or stringer moves upward. Because hydrate zones are often hundreds of meters thick. A second characteristic is that gas hydrates form effective seals against vertical hydrocarbon migration. contain mainly light components. because the same conditions that created the tar mat persist in the subsurface. When the original hydrocarbon phase contains large amounts of light components.
Tar mats produced by biodegradation can create excellent seals. These gas hydrates consist of a rigid lattice of water molecules that form a cage within which a single molecule of gas is trapped. but hydrates large enough to accommodate butane molecules are known.Migration . the lighter (gas) phase will be far more buoyant than the liquid phase. 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. of course. Accumulations beneath tar-mat seals are generally biodegraded themselves.34
Many of the accumulations in Pliocene reservoirs in southern California are also kinetic accumulations in a slightly different sense. Formation of hydrates thus provides an important trapping mechanism.
as we have seen. both new phases will have compositions that differ drastically from the original phase. Unstable basins seldom have depositional or tectonic continuities necessary for longdistance lateral migration to occur. Lateralmigration distances are strongly influenced by tectonic and depositional histories of basins. we will also have determined the timing of expulsion. or by the presence of tars. and the possibilities of combined vertical and lateral migration. are determined by structural contours on the top of the carrier beds. by faulting. "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). We already know two important facts about timing from our previous discussion: expulsion based on microfracturing cannot occur before generation. depending upon stacking of reservoirs. In summary. we want to determine the main pathways and conduite through which migration occurs. We have already stated that oil is expelled primarily as a liquid phase. In using our understanding of secondary migration for exploration. Polar compounds interact more strongly with water and rock minerals and thus move more slowly than hydrocarbons. and the timing of expulsion. gas is presumably expelled as a gas phase. as explorationists we have very pragmatic interests in migration. by decreases in permeability as a result of facies changes. Vertical-migration distances can be considerable. Efficiency of expulsion of liquids has already been estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 50% after the expulsion threshold has been reached. Pathways. and expulsion occurs concurrently with generation to relieve generation-induced overpressuring. Tectonically stable basins have the best potential for long-distance migration and supergiant accumulations. Thus if we can determine the timing of generation. When separation of a single hydrocarbon phase into two phases occurs. and how far they moved. 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. Efficiency of expulsion for hydrocarbons is apparently much higher than for NSO compounds. the efficiency of expulsion. We need to know when hydrocarbons moved. vertical faulting.35
will also assume the structurally high position in any reservoirs containing both phases. Timing of expulsion must be dealt with in a different way. the barriers that modify die direction of migration and eventually stop it. Proximity to effective source rocks and their permeabilities to hydrocarbons determine conduits.
. Barriers can be created by folding.Migration . in what direction they moved. and the vertical and horizontal distances involved. leading to an enrichment of hydrocarbons in the expelled liquid.
SIGNIFICANCE FOR EXPLORATION
Explorationists who are reading about migration will surely ask.
7 . and hoping for the best. drilling a well into it. Nowadays we can do better. (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.Petroleum Traps
We have seen petroleum generated in and expelled from the source rock formation into an overlying or underlying reservoir. The lowest point. (a) A simple hypothetical anticline. as the beds on one side are dropped down relative to the other. where it is lost. which may refer either to its depth or to the spot under the ground where it lies. before we reached our modern understanding of the geology of petroleum. Note that we commonly highlight petroleum accumulations by shading or colouring the reservoir formations where they contain oil or gas. Faults will be marked by jumps of the contours. is mapped by contours showing depth below sealevel. The location of a trap in the subsurface is often the first objective of an exploration program. 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). up towards the ground surface. Any oil getting there will be unable to migrate further and so it starts to accumulate. but there must also be some sort of blockage to prevent further migration. Indeed. To give a true representation. we need a few definitions. First. Such a configuration of the reservoir is known as a trap. The highest point of the reservoir. if more continues to migrate up into the trap than can be
. they should properly be drawn with the same scale for both the vertical and the horizontal.
THE REPRESENTATION OF TRAPS
Traps are commonly depicted in two ways. If it can. it will escape to surface as a seepage. by displacing the water already there in the porosity. except that the contours are in depth below sealevel. If then we are to find any of it still preserved. but it is often convenient to exaggerate the vertical to show the individual beds more clearly. To complement the structure contour map. 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. the ticks are on the downthrown sides of the faults. they can be mapped by means of contours drawn on the top of the reservoir formation. The top of a reservoir formation. which may give a misleading impression of `lakes' of
petroleum under the ground!
Structure contour maps. This may be caused either by the reservoir itself dying out or by an interruption of its upwards continuity to the surface.Petroleum Traps . one or more cross-sections may be drawn. is the spill-point: this is where oil. so that the highest points on the map have the lowest values. exploration used to consist largely of finding a trap. is known as the crest of the trap. A structure contour map resembles an ordinary topographic contour map. These are illustrated using a simple anticline as an example.(2-18)
Before we go further. The contours are in feet below mean sea-level.
that most reservoir formations include some tight intervals. in which the trap is formed by changes in the nature of the rocks themselves. the informal term pay is often used.(or gas-) column. being lighter still. they are embraced by the familiar terms oilfield or gasfield. but not entirely due to either.
The best known type of trap is the anticline: on reaching the crest. Structural. the only structural effect being a tilt to allow the oil to migrate through the reservoir. Similarly gas. where the trap has been produced by deformation of the beds after they were deposited. The vertical height of the oil (or gas) between the crest of the trap and the water contact is the oil. Let us remember. either by folding or faulting. They are normally classified under four headings (2-21):
1. 2. When referring to a single well. If there is no oil. i. 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. Where there is more than one such pool in the same or overlapping areas. Stratigraphic. separates out on top within the pore-spaces of the reservoir. or in their layering. Combination traps. The vertical height between the spill-point and the crest is referred to as the closure. Hydrodynamic traps. However. using a cross-section of a simple anticline as example (2-19). A single accumulation of oil or gas is called a pool. there are various types of
accommodated. will spill out (under) and migrate on. The trap is due to water flowing through the reservoir and holding the oil in places where it would not otherwise be trapped. which have porosities and permeabilities too low for them to contribute oil to production. petroleum migrating up along a reservoir can go no further and it accumulates there as a pool. formed partly by structural and partly by stratigraphic effects.e. Just a couple more terms. will occur as a gas cap above a gas-oil contact. which are rare and are mentioned mainly for completeness. 3. then we may see a gas-water contact. 4. so that we can recognize a generally horizontal oil-water contact. Oil being lighter than water.Petroleum Traps . however.
Now we can start to consider the types of trap whose discovery may await us.
Some terms used to define a trap. and the same term is used loosely to refer to the area of the trap above the level of the spill-point. perhaps if more than one reservoir is present.
In this case. we can find the trap present at all levels down to the basement. and we may no longer be able to see where the bottle is.
Cross-sections of trap-forming anticlines.Petroleum Traps . Cover it with a few more blankets and a duvet or two. and we may be able to continue exploration down to depths where we have to stop for other reasons. Anticlines. but we commonly have to undertake some form of geometrical construction to interpret what is happening at depth. (a) The dips are the same on both flanks and the crest is beneath the same locality at all depths. so that the beds become intensely crushed and thrust together: we may no longer even have an anticline at all. with one flank steeper than the other. in cross-section. (b) The anticline is asymmetrical and the crest shifts with increasing depth. 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. This is a very different kettle of fish from the concentric anticline. The similar anticline. To test the crest at depth. The general principles of this are straightforward. In this type of structure. We will describe in a little detail the most important types of anticline.
In the concentric fold the tops and bottoms of all the layers remain strictly parallel to each other. therefore in order to drill into a reservoir near its highest point (where we would expect the oil to be). There is a definite limit to the depths to which we should drill. a well would have to be located off-crest at surface. This can only happen if there is an apparent thickening of some beds over the crest of the fold. Below this point we have just too much rock to fit into the anticline. on the other hand. These conditions mean that the anticline becomes smaller and tighter at deeper levels until we reach a common `centre of curvature'. Compressive structures have a range of shapes between the purely concentric or parallel anticline and the similar fold. Seismic may help. then the position of the crest will shift with increasing depth. Let us see what the implications are for exploration.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. the anticline is asymmetrical. beyond which there may be no trap left to explore as the consequence of decoupling of layers. If. In practice. but an understanding of the shape and size of a prospect is clearly critical to programming an exploration well. we can thus expect to find only smaller and smaller accumulations of petroleum down to the centre of curvature. Other types of anticline can be formed without any lateral compression at all: an important one is the drape or drape-compaction structure. noting the differences in shape and prospectivity that we have to try to interpret. 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. so that the beds maintain a constant thickness throughout. Traps can also be formed against faults if a chopped-off reservoir is thrown against a shale or other impervious rock. These compressive structures pose one problem right from the start. maintains its shape constant down to depth. many structures have forms in-between the two extremes. and the blanket bulges upwards with an anticlinal shape. This leads us into the next problem.
and the beds on the downthrown side above the curving fault collapse to fill the gap. much of the west coast and continental shelf of Africa.(2-25)
Similarly. and several others.39
A drape-compaction anticline. Not only may an anticline be pushed up over the plug. it is also liable to fracture the overlying and surrounding beds creating fault traps. Note that the anticline dies out upwards towards the surface. Ghawar in Saudi Arabia.Petroleum Traps . however. Nature. which contains more than four times as much oil as the whole of the North Sea put together. where the beds are draped over the eroded stumps of an old Jurassic volcano. Note also that salt. This compaction enhances the anticline formed by the drape. This creates a rollover anticline. In effect the downthrown side is being pulled away from the upthrown side which would tend to create an open fissure along the fault. then they will blanket the hill as an anticline. All of these possible traps may contain hydrocarbons. so that it is steep near the surface and flattens with depth. and finally a residual bulge may be left between two nearby plugs: a turtle or turtle-back structure. being plastic. is in one such trap. In case anyone should think that this is unimportant. The last type of anticline that we should be aware of is the roll-over anticline. Extensive salt deposits and plugs with associated traps occur in many parts of the world: the southern North Sea and northern Germany. it may extend up to the surface of the ground or only part way if the supply of salt is limited. but also
. Note a characteristic of these anticlines: not only do they `grow' with depth. or over an upfaulted block or horst. the Gulf Coast of the USA. A second effect comes into play here: because there is a greater thickness of beds off the structure than over the top. showing the variety of traps that may be associated with them. bending downwards into the hole. if the first sediments in a basin were deposited over a hilly surface. the Middle East. note that the largest oilfield in the world. it is not always easy to separate out the two effects. Another is the Forties field in the North Sea. the Canadian Arctic Islands. This occurs alongside a normal fault that is curved. The effect of salt diapirism will be initially to bulge up the overlying sediments as an anticline. a salt pillow or a salt dome. and hence the combined name.
Diagrammatic section through two salt plugs. higher beds will gradually mute and suppress the structure until it is no longer present at shallow levels.(2-26)
A wide variety of traps can be associated with salt plugs. and then to burst through them in the form of a salt plug or salt wall. the beds being draped over an upfaulted block (horst) of basement rocks. 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. does not like empty holes. it may bend up and seal off the strata it cuts through. can be a perfect seal to any underlying accumulations.
the position of the crest is displaced with depth and that accumulations in successive reservoirs will not underlie the same surface position. a fault can provide a seal. these predated the deposition of the Upper Cretaceous.
. down towards the deep ocean. Again. T. Middle Jurassic. We know that sometimes. BS+MJ+O. Fault traps We indicated above that a trap may be formed where a dipping reservoir is cut off up-dip by a fault. and in understanding them. whether the fault is normal or reverse. but we also know that sometimes faults are pathways for migrating petroleum and non-sealing at all. The large Wytch Farm oilfield of southern England offers a splendid example. it seems that one and the same fault may act. Whether or not there is a trap. It adds further uncertainties to our predictions of the subsurface occurrence of oil and gas. It also depends on whether the fault itself is sealing or non-sealing. whether or not the reservoir is completely or only partially offset. as at Wytch Farm. The oil is in two reservoirs. Upper Cretaceous. although there are many problems in trying to locate them in the subsurface. to locate an exploration well in the right place. and its depth. trapped against faults to the south. W. or by opposing dips. in both cases. will depend on the dip of the reservoir as compared with that of the fault.40
they are asymmetrical. we still do not fully understand what the difference is due to. (2-28)
We do not propose to discuss fault traps in detail.
Cross-section through the Wytch Farm oilfield. (B) a roll-over complicated by subsidiary faulting near the crest.. in both ways. Lower Cretaceous. Much of the oil under the Niger and Mississippi Deltas is in such roll-over anticlines. southern England. UK. L. and it will depend on the amount of displacement on the fault. setting it against something impermeable. The sealing capacity of faults is a major difficulty confronting us. or slumping as a sort of land-slide.
Roll-over anticlines: (A) a simple roll-over into a normal fault.
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. thus causing sand against sand to permit migration and sand against shale to be sealing.Petroleum Traps . The proviso is that we also have lateral closure: this may be provided by further faulting. Tertiary. Lower Jurassic. Triassic. Note that. Kim+P. or have acted in the past. All very puzzling! Although attempts have been made to investigate the problem in Nigeria and elsewhere. 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. at deeper levels the crest will shift away from the position of the fault at surface. Occasionally indeed. and naturally we have some ideas on the subject.
Tr. therefore. and how big it is. Upper Jurassic. we have to know whereabouts in the succession our prospective reservoir lies.
thus preventing further migration. the porosity could be preserved beneath the unconformity. they differ somewhat in principle from the others. gneisses) under an unconformity serve as reservoirs in China and North Africa. some of them very important. A dipping reservoir. First. the beach sands will spread progressively over the land surface. its edges will provide an example of a reservoir dying out laterally. A flood of sand washed off the shallow continental shelf into the deeper ocean. provides the classic case: the East Texas field. if drowned by shales. It would be pointless to list all of the possible types of stratigraphic trap that can exist. we have an isolated trapping situation. but are generally classified as stratigraphic traps.41
Six trapping and two non-trapping configurations against a fault. however. Consider the sea gradually encroaching over the land as sea level rises. becoming younger as time goes on. claystone. will spread out as a fan over the ocean floor. In this manner. A lot of oil has been found in recent years in this sort of trap in the North Sea. no structural control is needed. let us note that a number of traps. may serve as an isolated stratigraphic trap. cut across by erosion and later covered above the unconformity by impermeable sediments. depending on whether the fault is normal or reverse. possibly through a submarine canyon. a hill on the old land surface may be formed of permeable rock. so we will mention a few to convey the general idea. to provide a trap when later covered with. to a large extent reflecting the restricted environments in which the reservoir rocks were deposited. We would be left with a sandstone reservoir dying out above the unconformity. are formed by unconformities. fan sands provide one of the prime present-day exploration
. We mention just three examples. The variety in size and shape of such traps is enormous.Petroleum Traps . on the direction of dip of the beds relative to the fault plane. say. and on the amount of displacement of the reservoir. A coral reef overwhelmed by muds. In fact.(2-29)
Petroleum may be trapped where the reservoir itself is cut off up-dip. if terminated updip as not infrequently happens. More esoterically. but nevertheless known. for example. Unconformity traps can also be found above the break. Non-unconformity traps are even more diverse. A sand deposited in a river channel will be confined by the banks and. until perhaps the supply of sand runs out. It is presumed that petroleum cannot escape up the fault plane. and leave the reader to speculate on other possibilities. strongly weathered basement rock (granites. is the biggest in the USA outside Alaska.
occur in traps formed by a combination of structural and stratigraphic circumstances. these beds were folded into a faulted east-west anticline. which was tilted west and eroded before deposition of the overlying beds now dipping east. The reservoir beds were folded into an anticline. The difference is believed to be due to clay being smeared into the fault plane. tilted westwards.Petroleum Traps .(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. or the oil would have been lost. and truncated by erosion. there always seems to be something new as a challenge. A couple of examples may give the idea. The Prudhoe Bay field in northern Alaska. some of them large. As the more easily found structural traps are running out in much of the world.42
targets. neither completely controls the trap. This vital factor. which were eroded and unconformably overlain by Cretaceous shales.(230)
A number of fields.
A block representation of the trap at the Prudhoe Bay field in northern Alaska. possibly even before it
. Again the range of possibilities is almost infinite.
An investigation into the sealing qualities of faults affecting roll-over anticlines in the Niger Delta. Both the faulting and the unconformity control the traps. Where a reservoir is full to spillpoint against a fault. The oil is held in the reservoirs by younger shales overlying the erosion surface (Fig. the biggest field in the USA. where there is enough of it in the section. has most of its oil and gas trapped in a Carboniferous to Jurassic sequence which includes more than one reservoir. The oil in these fields can only have migrated there after the traps were sealed by the higher sequences. although such prospects are not easy to locate and may require a lot of sophisticated seismic. as the fault moved. We may note here one most important consideration. and where an oil-water contact is continuous across a fault. it is presumed that the fault is non-sealing.). elsewhere it appears to form a trap. where the reservoirs overlie overpressured shales. This combination trap is partly structural (the anticline) and partly stratigraphic (beneath the unconformity). that the trap must be shown to have been there before the oil migrated.
indicating the former presence of an oil accumulation now lost. Note that the oil-water contact is tilted down in the direction of water flow. entering a reservoir formation. There is no structural or stratigraphic closure. This may be one of the reasons why oil accumulations trapped hydrodynamically are rare. we would have to be careful where we locate and drill our oil production wells.
A hydrodynamic trap.43
was generated. as we do not want to waste the money drilling wells that would miss the oil altogether. The oil-water contact in such a hydrodynamic trap is normally tilted in the direction of water flow. It is totally dependent on the flow of water and is effective. they are known in a number of parts of the world.(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. but the oil reserves they contain show clearly that generally they are also bigger. The timing of trap formation versus oil migration has not always worked out favorably. Oil has found its way into the reservoir and is battling to migrate upwards to the surface against the flow of water. It is therefore always important to get a handle on the hydrodynamic regime in a reservoir for both exploration and oilfield development purposes. In this sort of situation. cases are known where flowing water has apparently been able totally to flush oil out of an anticlinal trap. essentially anticlinal. from our present-day point of view. or aquifer. up in the hills and percolating downwards towards a spring. geologically speaking. Furthermore. only for as long as the water keeps coming: dry up the supply of water. Oil.
Imagine surface water. and the oil will be free to move again. We would recognize this from residual traces of oil in a water-bearing reservoir. of course. The number of structural field of this size may partly reflect the fact that structural traps are easier to find than the others. What our efforts are increasingly directed towards. The trouble. is that in most parts of the world the larger anticlines have now been drilled. Such tilted contacts. attempting to escape to surface up a reservoir. perhaps from rain. in say ordinary anticlinal traps. is held against an unevenness of its upper surface by water flowing in the opposite direction.Petroleum Traps . a regime of water flow cannot normally be expected to remain constant for long. Depending on the balance of forces acting on the oil. it may find itself caught against an unevenness of the reservoir surface where there is no conventional trap at all. are not all that rare.
. are the more obscure and generally smaller prospects. therefore. This is what has been described as a hydrodynamic trap. is yet another aspect of the petroleum geology that we have to assess in proposing exploration drilling. traps in both number and size.
The logs show SP (Self Potential or Spontaneous Potential) on the left and R (Resistivity) on the right.
. multi-interpretable (D).Make the interpretations from easy (A) to more difficult.45
EXERCISES EXERCISE 1: The following well logs have been hung on a structural datum. Interpret the geological relationships shown in each by drawing a
structural cross-section through the logs.Petroleum Traps .
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. 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. located in Steuben County. Only the porous core facies is productive in the reef section (see map on next page).Y. Oriskany production is from a small anticline on the upthrown side of the fault.. Elevations and marked logs are provided for 6 wells in the Wyckoff Field.Petroleum Traps . Wyckoff Reef Gas Field WellElevation
CORNELL DIBBLE GUILD CHASE BANKS RICHARDS 2257' 2098' 2037' 2206' 2182' 2066'
. The Onondaga forms a thick biohermal reef over part of the field.46
EXERCISE PetroleumTraps 2 The Wyckoff Gas Field. N.
.Petroleum Traps .
Petroleum Traps .48
Go. the Phosphoria Formation of Wyoming and Idaho belongs to each of these classifications in different areas. It follows from these definitions that a particular stratum could be an effective source rock in one place. if G is very low.Source-Rock Evaluation
DEFINITION OF SOURCE ROCK
Much of modern petroleum geochemistry depends upon accurate assessment of the hydrocarbonsource capabilities of sedimentary rocks. quick. However. or is it because the rock is "burned out" (i. For better communication.. and inexpensive analysis serves as the first and most important screening technique in source-rock analysis.Source Rock Evaluation . is most meaningful if we can compare it to the rock's original source capacity. but which may have generated and expelled hydrocarbons. is it because the rock never had a high initial source capacity. but if the rocks contain abundant organic matter. Go can only be measured directly for immature source rocks. much smaller amounts can be analyzed.49
8 . When we analyze a rock sample in the laboratory. we cannot measure G directly for a sample that has already begun to generate hydrocarbons. This simple. a potential source rock in a less-mature area.e. The difference between Go and G represents the hydrocarbons already generated in the effective source rock. a possible source rock in a nearby unstudied region. The quantity actually measured in the laboratory is always G. Possible source rock: any sedimentary rock whose source potential has not yet been evaluated. the remaining source capacity and not the original capacity (Go). in which case virtually all the initial
. This quantity. where G and Go are identical. Although the term source rock is frequently used generically to describe fine-grained sedimentary rocks. we actually measure its remaining (or untapped) source capacity at the present day. The term "effective source rock" obviously encompasses a wide range of generative histories from earliest maturity to overmaturity. For example. Potential source rock: any immature sedimentary rock known to be capable of generating and expelling hydrocarbons if its level of thermal maturity were higher. which we can call G. instead it must be estimated by measuring G for a similar sample that is still immature.
MATURITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL
Knowing a rock's remaining source capacity G solves only one part of the puzzle. the following distinctions can be made: Effective source rock: any sedimentary rock that has already generated and expelled hydrocarbons. it is also necessary to know what level of thermal maturity is represented by that particular G value. For example. 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. that usage is a bit too broad and loose. Analysis normally requires about one gram of rock. overmature.
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.
In all cases it is worthwhile to supplement vitrinite with other measures of maturity. Other macerals or solidified bitumens can often be misidentified as vitrinite. If enough vitrinite particles can be found. Reworked vitrinite is. misidentification of macerals can cause problems. vitrinite reflectance is the most popular technique today for estimating kerogen maturity. TAI measurements are made on the same slides prepared for microscopic kerogen-type analysis. the plot is a straight line. whenever possible. Results are reported as Ro values. in fact. Vitrinite-reflectance measurements begin by isolating the kerogen with HCl and HF. Vitrinite reflectance (Ro). The fraction of the incident beam that is reflected coherently is measured and recorded and stored automatically on a computer. 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. where the o indicates that the measurements were made with the plug immersed in oil. A substantial number of techniques for measuring or estimating kerogen maturity have been developed over the years. along with a statistical analysis of the data. Such histograms are quite often difficult or impossible to interpret. Less commonly used are fluorescence and conodont color (CAI). The most commonly used maturity parameters today are spore color (Thermal Alteration Index. and then embedding the kerogen particles in an epoxy plug. At the end of the analysis a histogram of the collected data is printed. leading to frequent difficulties in establishing which vitrinite population is indigenous.Source Rock Evaluation . or TAI). If no pollen can be found. of course. The ideal histogram of reflectance values is therefore rather rare. The darkening of kerogen particles with increasing thermal maturity can be used as an indicator of maturity. the microscopist shines light on an individual vitrinite particle. even for experienced workers. There are many problems with vitrinite reflectance as applied to kerogens. The method is based on the fact that with increasing thermal stress. in some cases it is essential. Reflectance values are normally plotted versus depth in a well. very different. After the plug is polished.50
hydrocarbon-source capacity has already been used up)? The exploration implications of these two scenarios are. from amorphous kerogen. unless surrounding samples help us determine the indigenous vitrinite population. far more common in shales than in coals. TAI measurements are carried out on bisaccate pollen grains whenever possible. Because what is present is often reworked. The key to using maturity parameters effectively lies in evaluating the measured data carefully (and sometimes with skepticism) and. vitrinite reflectance. with lower confidence. in obtaining more than one maturity parameter. in which the vitrinite maceral is usually very common. Thermal Alteration Index (TAI). In many areas it is easy to use and valuable. paucity of first-cycle vitrinite renders vitrinite-reflectance measurements essentially worthless. and pyrolysis temperature. In many rocks vitrinite is rare or absent. its maturity is not related to that of the rock in which it is found. 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. however.
. The feeling of most workers today is that there is no single maturity indicator that tells the whole story unerringly all the rime. Despite its weaknesses. All the techniques discussed are useful and probably reasonably accurate if the analytical work is carefully done. All the methods have strengths and weaknesses. Because each maceral type increases in reflectance in a slightly different way as thermal stress increases. TAI values are estimated. Vitrinite-reflectance techniques were developed for measuring the rank of coals. If a log scale is used for the reflectance. In other rocks. A few of these parameters will briefly be discussed. between 50 and 100 measurements will be taken. and none can be applied in all cases.
thus defusing to a large degree the criticism that TAI is too subjective to be valid. or most commonly. conodonts are plentiful in carbonate rocks. CAI is only an indirect indicator of hydrocarbon maturity. Carbon Preference Index (CPI). and thus helps expand the range over which maturities can be measured. The technique is simple and quick and can be done even by inexperienced workers. leading to an inaccurate assessment of kerogen maturity. CAI is inexpensive and easy to measure and. Colors of the specimens thus obtained are determined under a binocular microscope and compared with standards. which can vary greatly in its chemical and physical properties. When palynomorphs are absent. where pollen and vitrinite are often absent. and thus are of no value in many areas. with the help of color charts can be carried out by inexperienced personnel. Other disadvantages overlap with some of the advantages. One advantage of CAI over other maturity parameters is that because conodonts existed as early as the Cambrian. lack of proper standardization. Finally.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.
Conodont Alteration Index (CAI).Source Rock Evaluation . The chief problems arise with inexperienced workers. they offer a means of measuring maturity in rocks that do not contain pollen grains or vitrinite. where most of the interest is. One disadvantage of CAI measurements is that CAI values can be dramatically increased in the presence of hot brines. most commonly from fossiliferous carbonates. Conodonts are not very sensitive indicators of maturity within the oil generation window. Thirdly. Conodonts do not occur in rocks younger than the Triassic. TAI values estimated from amorphous material are always suspect and should be corroborated by other analyses. Although TAI determinations are subjective. TAI values must be estimated from amorphous debris. Furthermore. Although conodonts are composed of carbonate apatite. use of careful standards and the same type of palynomorph in each analysis greatly aid reproducibility. Finally. A careful worker can reproduce earlier work with excellent precision. Conodonts are isolated. The first maturity indicator applied to sediments was the Carbon Preference Index. the CAI scale is most sensitive at levels of maturity much higher than can be measured by TAI. the absence of spores and pollen in the samples. Early investigations showed that immature rocks often had high CPI
. 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. by removing the mineral matrix with acetic or formic acid. TAI measurements are therefore often quite accurate and correlate very well with results from other techniques.
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. because of their friability. it is impossible to determine which maturation path brought it to that point. they can usually be identified with reasonable confidence.
ESTIMATION OF ORIGINAL SOURCE CAPACITY
Of the three major methods of determining kerogen type. rocks deposited in pelagic environments. however. Hydrocarbon contamination is rare except in the immediate vicinity of production or where vehicles are used. It is capable of impregnating sidewall and conventional cores as well as cuttings.5%. This discovery led to the use of CPI as an indicator of maturity. 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. This method works fairly well if the kerogen is still within the oil-generation window. Walnut hulls and other organic debris are also easy to detect microscopically. in the last decade kerogen analyses have replaced bitumen analyses as the routine procedure in source-rock evaluation.
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. In contrast to solid additives. only microscopic analysis is relatively unaffected by maturity. Atomic H/C ratios must therefore be corrected for the effects of
. which affect only the kerogen portion of the sample. As a result. diesel fuel affects both kerogen and bitumen. in which the input of terrestrial lipids was very limited. whereas those of oils were almost always below 1. Without additional information. Pyrolysis yields are. and can be removed prior to beginning the analytical sequence. however. but it can be devastating in cuttings samples.52
values (> 1. strongly affected by maturity. fewer CPI determinations are made now.5). 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. it can lead to an overly optimistic assessment of the organic richness of the section. vitrinite reflectance measurements offer the best means of recognizing caving. As long as kerogen particles are not completely black. of course. Drilling-fluid additives have been a severe headache for petroleum geochemists for a long time. because all kerogens have low pyrolysis yields. In many cases. have low CPI values even when immature. The exception to this rule is with amorphous material. TOC values will be raised and vitrinite-reflectance values lowered by the presence of adsorbed diesel. therefore. Contaminants of particular notoriety are diesel fuel. Caving is not a problem for conventional or sidewall cores. Careful picking of lithologies and comparison with up-hole samples can often recognize caved materials. and therefore should be easy to avoid. of course.2. Furthermore. and lignite from lignosulfonates. palynological analysis can usually detect the presence of lignosulfonates because of the unique pollen assemblages present in the lignite. In particular. where the fluorescence that enables us to distinguish between oil-prone and non-oil-prone disappears toward the end of the oil-generation window. Fortunately. Well Samples . atomic H/C ratios measure the present day status of the kerogen rather than its original chemical composition. In such cases TOC values will be raised and reflectance histograms will show a large population near 0. Mold or other surface growth may also be present.Source Rock Evaluation . walnut hulls and other solid debris.The main causes of contamination among samples obtained from wells are caving and adulteration by drilling-fluid additives. Like pyrolysis.
Because the density of organic matter is about one-half that of clays and carbonates. These immature H/C ratios can then be used to calculate Go. The oil-generative macerals are those of Type I and Type II kerogens: alginite. We therefore use TOC values as screens to indicate which rocks are of no interest to us (TOC < 0. Thus high TOC values are a necessary but not sufficient criterion for good source rocks. claiming. resinite. and S3) are expressed in milligrams of hydrocarbon or carbon dioxide per gram of rock sample. Inertinite is considered by most workers to have no hydrocarbon-source capacity.Source Rock Evaluation . because the kerogens they contain are woody or highly oxidized. the actual volume percent occupied by the organic material is about twice the TOC percentage. They will not function as highly effective source rocks. gas-generative. however. We must still determine whether the kerogen present is in fact of good hydrocarbon-source quality. where preservation of lipid-rich organic matter with source potential for oil can occur. and thus of limited source potential. Many rocks with high TOC values.5% and 1. Gas-generative kerogen is mainly vitrinite. The amount of hydrocarbons generated in such rocks is so small that expulsion simply cannot occur.5% and 1. S2.5% TOC are considered to have negligible hydrocarbon-source potential. etc. because the type of kerogen preserved in rich rocks is often more oil-prone than in lean rocks. that at least some Australian inertinites can generate significant amounts of oil. fluorescing amorphous kerogen. Smyth (1983).0%). These raw data are then normalized for the organic-carbon content of the sample. In some rocks TOC values between 1% and 2% are associated with depositional environments intermediate between oxidizing and reducing. but they may expel small quantities of hydrocarbons and thus should not be discounted completely. however.
TYPE OF ORGANIC MATTER
Microscopic kerogen-type analysis describes the proportions of the various macerals present in a sample. TOC values above 2% often indicate highly reducing environments with excellent source potential. have little oil-source potential. exinite. the kerogen in such lean rocks is almost always highly oxidized and thus of low source potential. Raw data (S1.0% TOC are marginal. has dissented from this pessimistic view.5%).0%). and inert. Furthermore.
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. cutinite. the direct evidence for such a statement is rather meager. which ones might be of slight interest (TOC between 0.5% TOC. As such these quantities are a measure of the total capacity of a rock to release or generate hydrocarbons or carbon dioxide. Those rocks containing less than 0. on the basis of deductive reasoning. Nevertheless. Kerogens in rocks containing less than 1% TOC are generally oxidized. yielding
. In interpreting these observations we normally divide these macerals into oil-generative.53
maturation by using a van Krevelen diagram. Rocks containing between 0. Interpretation of TOC values therefore does not simply focus on the quantity of organic matter present. Rocks containing more than 1% TOC often have substantial source potential. A rock containing 3% TOC is likely to have much more than six times as much source capacity as a rock containing 0. and which are definitely worthy of further consideration (TOC > 1. Pyrolysis results are normally reported in two ways.
and thus are considered to have good source potential for liquid hydrocarbons. The ultimate limit of oil stability is not known for certain. CAI can actually measure high-grade metamorphism. However. Although Tmax values are determined objectively. if you are using TAI determinations determined by an analytical laboratory. They have excellent potential to generate liquid hydrocarbons. 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. Interpretation of hydrogen indices for immature kerogens is straightforward. because during the Paleozoic the biota was quite different than during the Cenozoic. the hydrogen index serves as an indicator of kerogen type. most other maturation parameters are related to Ro values. Determination of the oil-generation window in a particular section is the objective of most maturity analyses performed on possible source rocks. Thus.
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. but there are still some minor variations from one laboratory to another. but in most cases is probably not much above 1. less common application is to decide whether oil will be stable in a given reservoir. A second. for most kerogens the onset of oil-generation is taken to be near 0. Kerogens with hydrogen indices above about 300 contain substantial amounts of Type II macerals. It is particularly difficult to generalize about TAI values because the numerical values of TAI scales have not been standardized among laboratories. make sure that you have a copy of their equivalency between TAI and Ro. Kerogens with hydrogen indices above 600 usually consist of nearly pure Type I or Type II kerogens. either from terrestrial macerals (cutinite. Age of coals is important.6% Ro. The limits of the oil generation window vary considerably depending upon the type of organic matter being transformed.5% Ro. with CAI of 8 reached in a marble. respectively. Nevertheless. Peak generation is reached near 0. because they vary with kerogen type as well as maturity. Measured hydrogen indices must be corrected for maturity effects by using a modified van Krevelen diagram as outlined above. Those between 150 and 300 contain more Type III kerogen than Type II and therefore have marginal to fair potential for liquids. Because vitrinite reflectance is the most popular method of determining maturity. The normalized S2 and S3 values are called the hydrogen index and the oxygen index. Because some Cenozoic land plants are richer in resins and waxes than Paleozoic plants.54
values in milligrams per gram of TOC. some Cenozoic coals should have better potential for generating liquid hydrocarbons.
Kerogen Parameters. and the coals were of bituminous to anthracite rank. this generalization has two fallacies: most of the coalfields originally studied were of Paleozoic age.
.9% Ro. resinite. Conodont Alteration Index (CAI) values ranging from 1 to 5 were tied loosely to vitrinite reflectance and fixed carbon content of coals.35% Ro.Source Rock Evaluation . others use 440°. a unified scale for comparing them with Ro values has not been adopted. The correlations among maturity parameters have been fairly well established. and the end of liquid-hydrocarbon generation is thought to be at about 1. Because variations in TOC have been removed in the normalizing calculation. Hydrogen indices above 150 reflect increasing amounts of lipid-rich material. Some laboratories put the onset of maturity at 435° C. exinite) or from marine algal material.
00 Thermal Alteration Index (TAI) 2.0 3.0 4. we should not rely on a single analytical technique. To do this intelligently we must have the ability to develop regional models of organic facies and thermal maturity.35 1. With increasing experience one can also learn to derive important information on thermal histories.
Vitrinite Reflectance (%Ro) 0.0 Pyrolysis Tmax (°C) 420 430 440 450 460 465 470 480 500 500 + 500 + Conodont Alteration Index (CAI) 1 1 1 1. we should attempt to corroborate the measured data by other analyses.8 4.00 3.80 1.50 0. We should always attempt to extrapolate our measured data over as large an area as possible. In some areas one technique may fail completely or may be only partially successful.60 0.40 0. and maturity of the organic matter present in the rocks? Satisfactory methods are available in most cases to answer all these questions.5 3.0 2.50 2. Interpretation of source-rock data on a basic level is quite simple.2 3. type. Whenever possible.20 1.4 3.8 3.Source Rock Evaluation .00 1.55
Any source-rock evaluation should attempt to answer three questions: What are the quantity.5 2 2 2 3 4 4 5
Correlation of various kerogen-maturity parameters with vitrinite-reflectance (Ro) values
. unconformities and erosional events.00 4.3 2.6 2. and organic facies. rather. therefore.
" Two independent quality measurements have been made.2 3.2 Atomic H/C 1. however.9 3.7 2.65 0.Source Rock Evaluation .75 0.07 1.72 0. B) H/C versus TAI for Mauve Well samples.8 0.7 1. and then tracing the H/C ratio back to its immature value.0 0.8 % Alginite + Exinite 75 80 80 75 80 90 85 75 70 50 45 60 45 40 ? ?
Data are available on quantity (%Corg).
A) Calculation of the immature kerogen H/C ratio(at A) from the present-day H/C ratio and vitrinite reflectance data(at P) . This can be done easily by plotting H/C versus TAI.6 2.5 1. and both should be utilized and examined for possible discrepancies.1 2.7 2.5 2-2.6 2.7 3.5 2. refer to the graph on next page.0 3.38 TAI 2.56
Worked out example: Perform a source-rock analysis on the Mauve Well.33 1.1 3.2 2.98 0.2 1. so "Total Oil" can be plotted against "Oil Already Generated.5 0.27 1.7 1.6 0.5 1.05 0.22 1. as shown in Figure B (derived from Figure A). and maturity (TAI).3 0. presenting the kerogen quality factor as a
.0 2-2.6 2.41 0.5 0.86 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. quality (H /C and %Alginite + Exinite).
Both the immature H / C ratios and the maceral analysis data need to be scaled to calculate "Total Oil.81 1." To do this. present-day H/C ratios to the ones that the kerogens had when they were thermally immature.5 2.3 1. To use the H /C data.5 2-2. one must first convert the measured.66 0.77 0.15 0.5 2. The calculated immature H/C ratios are listed in the table on next page.
60 0.90 0.17 0.75 0. to check for analytical error. and would certainly request that the slides made for maceral analysis be reviewed. however. the H/C ratio gives the lower quality factor.07 1. it is impossible to pinpoint the error.30 1.27 1.86 0.35 0.90 ? ? Quality Factor Quality Factor (from H/ C) (from 1.60 ? ? * * * * * 1.Source Rock Evaluation .50 1. The most important point being made here is that these discrepanties must be taken seriously by the interpreter.72 0.0 0.5 1.
Kerogen quality factor as a function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen. The scaled quality factors are given for each parameter in the table on next page.90 0.05 0.05 0.90 0. the interpreter might then decide to try a third technique.6 1.7 1.
It is apparent that there are serious discrepanties between the H/C and maceral analysis results for several of the samples.98 0. In likewise manner (not illustrated here) the quality factor can be determined from maceral analysis data.8 1.05 1.6 1.41 0. 4000.65 0.5 1. If these attempts produced no resolution of the problem.22 1. 2000.22 1.85 1.90 0.33 1. and not
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 1.43 1.35 1.57
function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen in order to determine the quality factor from H/C.9 0.65 0.8 ? ?
* Indicates discrepancy between quality factors calculated from H /C and from maceral analysis.77 0. 1750. In each case.60 0.4 1.9 1.77 0. 1500.66 0.38 Immature H/C 1. The samples at 1000.07 1.35 0. 2300.05 1.20 1.81 1. and 4500 meters all show differences in the quality factors calculated from the two types of data.15 0.70 1. The prudent interpreter might now ask that some of the H/C ratios be rerun. Without more knowledge.00 0. so some systematic error is likely.5 1. such as pyrolysis.05 0.6 1.81 1.2 0.
and the H/C ratios are not helpful because the maceral types cannot be ascertained from such low H/C values. Let us take this last approach to this problem. because sourcerock potential is not good for most of the section.
. One can say little. The relative organic richness of the blackened samples below 4600 meters makes them interesting for further investigation. These two kerogens are highly mature and quite black. therefore. The only sample where the discrepancy is significant is that from 2000 meters. The rest of the section shows a good correspondente between the two parameters. "Total Oil" values are generally unexciting.Source Rock Evaluation . except for the two deepest samples. Most of the discrepanties among the different quality factors turn out to be unimportant.
"Total Oil" and "Oil Already Generated" profiles are plotted in above figure.58
be overlooked or swept under the rug. "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. More samples between 3000 and 3500 meters should be obtained to define better the zone of high "Total Oil" values. 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. Future exploratory activity could include an attempt to find such a section.
"Total Oil" and "Oil Already Generated" profiles tor the Mauve Well. In fact. It may be necessary occasionally to offer two alternative interpretations without choosing between them. no maceral analysis was possible here. although the section between 2000 and 3500 meters shows fairly good potential. about the oil-source history of the section below 4600 meters. Finally.
EXERCISE Source Rock 1 Combine the data from the Blue Well to give a coherent picture of thermal maturity in the section drilled.3 Bit/TOC 0.5 2.60 0.01 0.66 0.5-3 2.5 2.0 2.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1.5 0.25 0.0-2.27 0.07 0.02 0.07 0.59 0.5-3 2.5 3.5 2.42 0.65 0.5
TOC = Total Organic Carbon Bit/TOC = Bitumen/Total organic carbon ? indicates a poor histogram
TAI = Thermal Alteration Index Ro = Vitrinite reflectance
.09 0.2 0. Source-rock data tor the Turquoise Well
Depth (ft) 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500 10.52 0.99 1.5 2.3 1.65 0.08 0.60 0.91 0.91 1.1 2.8 0.05 0.08 0.4 0.0 2.61 0.67 0.10 0.63 0.88 0.9 1.48 Ro 0.Source Rock Evaluation .03 0.25 1.0-2.55 0.91 1.5-3 3.5 2.5 2.7 0.02 0.27 1.51 0.2 2.90 0.8 1.0-2.51 0.3 2.
EXERCISE Source Rock 2 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well.71 0.08 0.21 1.86 1.6 4.22 0.6 0.00 1.5 2.17 0.06 0.44 0.3 2.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10
2-2.1 0.0 3-3.21 0.06 0.11 0.5-3 2.0 2.5-3.59 0.0 2.3 2.09 0.5 3.02 Atomic H/C 0.7 0.5-3 2.46 0.5 2.5 3-3.51 0.17 0.12
*TAI and Ro are interconverted according to the correlation table at the end of chapter 7.0 0.0 2.33? 1.60 0.5-3 2.05 0.03 0. Explain how you resolved any apparent discrepancies.08 0.6 2.5 2.85 0.06 0.0 2.26? 1.21 1.41? 1.49 0.49 0.03 0.07 1.5 2.5 2.66 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 2.18 0.
in frontier basins there may not be a single well within tens or hundreds of kilometers.Predicting Thermal Maturity . In 1971. however. This assumption is a logical and defensible one. perhaps from thicknesses of exposed sections nearby. nor do we know at what depth or temperature it occurred. 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. It has even been suggested that maturity models are more accurate than measured data for determining the extent of petroleum generation. methods have been developed for calculating maturity levels where measurements are not available. indeed. We need data that will enable us to construct a time stratigraphy for the location of interest and to specify its temperature history. a time stratigraphy can sometimes be constructed using seismic data.
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. If no subsurface data are available. In most cases. 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. expulsion. He developed a "Time-Temperature Index" of maturity (TTI) to quantify his method. Part of this problem is a consequence of the limitations we face in attempting to obtain reliable maturity measurements. measured maturity data are of limited value in exploration. for it is in keeping with the predictions of chemical-kinetic theory. If no well data are available. Nevertheless. Time-stratigraphic data are usually available as formation tops and ages obtained by routine biostratigraphic analysis of well cuttings. 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. maturity measurements can only tell us about present-day maturity levels. and migration with timing of structure development or trap formation. Even in maturely explored basins the samples available for analysis often do not give a representative picture of maturity in the basin. however. estimates can be made. 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. These considerations are important when we want to compare timing of 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. we still have no clue as to when oil generation occurred. If our measurements indicate that a rock has already passed through the oil-generation window. especially if the seismic reflectors can be tied to well data.60
9 . In some areas there are no well samples available.
. In order to circumvent these difficulties.Predicting Thermal Maturity
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.
This geometry is a direct consequence of ignoring compaction effects. Connecting the six dots completes the burial-history curve. which was constructed from the time stratigraphy for the Tiger well. and that a corrected bottom-hole temperature of 133° C was obtained at 3800 m. it is easy to construct burial-history curves with a high level of confidence. Today the rock is at a depth of 3700 m. The subsurface temperature must be specified for every depth throughout the relevant geologic past. Burial-history curves are based on the best information available to the geologist. Suppose further that local weather records indicate a yearly average surface temperature of 19° C. Nevertheless. burial-history curves represent our best understanding of the geological history of an area. In the Tiger well. we can construct the temperature grid with equally spaced isotherms parallel to the earth's surface. 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. An example is shown in the following figure. sediment has accumulated continuously but at varying rates since deposition of the oldest rock 100 million years ago (Ma).
The next step is to provide a temperature history to accompany our burial-history curve. Using the other control points from the input table. that the Tiger well was logged. The burial-history curve was constructed in the following way: two points. by 80 Ma the sediment had been buried to a depth of 900 m (point C).61
Implementation of Lopatin's method begins with the construction of a burial-history curve for the oldest rock layer of interest.
. The next step is to locate the first control point from the time-stratigraphic data on the input table. Suppose. Neglecting compaction effects. In cases where biostratigraphic data are available and deposition has been reasonably continuous.Predicting Thermal Maturity . In cases where biostratigraphic data are lacking or where the sediments have had complex tectonic histories. a burial-history curve may represent only a rather uncertain guess. for example. Using these present-day data and extrapolating them into the past. representing the initial deposition of the sediment (point A) and its position today (point B). are marked on the age-depth plot. we can construct the complete figure.(9-2)
All of the shallower and younger horizons will have burial-history curves whose segments are parallel to those of the oldest horizon. if constructed as carefully as the data permit.
The effects of thrusting on thermal maturity are not well understood.
In other cases the surface temperature remains constant. Given adequate data or an appropriate model on which to base complex temperature reconstructions.Predicting Thermal Maturity . however. we can change surface temperatures through time without altering the geothermal gradient. In most cases. If deposition resumes later. 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. Erosion is indicated in a burial-history curve by an upward movement of the curve. two separate diagrams should be used for the sake of clarity.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT BURIAL-HISTORY CURVES
The most common complicating factor in constructing burial-history curves is erosional removal. the data necessary for highly sophisticated temperature reconstructions are simply not available. the burial-history curve again begins to trend downward. If thrusting is rapid compared to the rate of thermal equilibration between thrust sheets. however. Faulting can be dealt with by considering the hanging wall and footwall as separate units having distinct burial histories. In many poorly explored areas. maps of regional geothermal gradients can be useful in estimating the gradient at a particular location.62
Where measured bottom-hole temperatures are not available. If part of the section is missing as a result of faulting. More complicated temperature histories account for changes in thermal conductivities caused by variations in lithology. but the geothermal gradient varies in response to heating or cooling events. we are limited only by our own creativity. For example (9-7). some part of the section is repeated as a result of thrusting. Causes for such events could include global warming and cooling or local climatic variations resulting from continental drift or elevation changes. temperature profiles will be based largely on guesswork. The individual segments of each of the burial-history curves in a family will remain parallel. Whenever erosional removal occurs. the resultant thinning of the section must be represented in the entire family of burial-history curves. If. There is no theoretical limit to the complexity that can be introduced into our temperature histories. burial-history curves for both hanging wall and footwall can be represented on a single diagram. There are numerous other variations that can be employed in creating temperature grids. the movement of hot rocks from the bottom of the overthrusted slab over cool rocks at the top of the underthrusted slab will affect
in contrast. Total maturity is calculated by summing the incremental maturity added in each succeeding temperature interval. more work is required before we will understand fully how thrusting influences hydrocarbon generation and destruction. for any temperature interval the temperature factor (?) was given by: ? = 2n The temperature-factor thus reflects the exponential dependence of maturity on temperature. 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). However. Lopatin defined each time factor simply as the length of time. Lopatin chose the 100°-110° C interval as his base and assigned to it an index value n = 0. Now we can carry out the maturity calculations. Temperature intervals are defined by successive isotherms spaced 10° C apart.Predicting Thermal Maturity . Studies in the Overthrust Belt of Wyoming indicate that a slow-equilibration model is superior to a simple model invoking rapid thermal equilibration.(9-12)
CALCULATION OF MATURITY
Once the burial-history curves and temperature grids have been constructed. This intervalTTI value represents the maturity acquired by the rock in that temperature interval during the time
. we must paste them together.
Loss of 1000 m of section by erosion during an uplift event lasting from 70 Ma to 60 Ma. Lopatin (1971) assumed that the rate of maturation followed this doubling rule. decreases by 1000 m.400 cal/mol will approximately double with every 10° C increase in reaction temperature. expressed in millions of years. 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. Index values increase or decrease regularly at higher or lower temperatures intervals. increases exponentially with increasing temperature. spent by the rock in each temperature interval. These dots define the time and temperature intervals that we shall use in our calculations.63
organic maturation by causing important perturbations in subsurface temperatures. respectively. Intersections of the burial-history curve with each isotherm are marked with dots. we need to define both a time factor and a temperature factor for each temperature interval. Because the rate of maturation was assumed to increase by a factor of two for every 10° C rise in temperature. In order to carry out maturity calculations conveniently. The temperature factor. Testing of his model and the successful application of Lopatin's method in numerous published examples have confirmed the general validity of this assumption. Individual burial-history curves remain parallel. A Time interval is the length of time that the rock has spent in a particular temperature interval. but the distance between the two lines which bracket the erosion.
In B burial was very slow during the first 70 Ma of the rock's existence.
. To obtain total maturity.Predicting Thermal Maturity . even if a rock cools down. the cake will bake slowly at first but will bake faster and faster as the temperature rises. maturity continues to increase (albeit at a slower rate) because y is always greater than zero. it can never go backward because interval-TTI values are never negative. no matter how much or how rapidly we cool it down. followed by a nonerosional depositional hiatus for the last 50 Ma. In D 40 Ma of rapid burial to a depth of 4000 m was followed by a hiatus lasting 30 Ma and. 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 the adjoining table interval-TTI values and total-TTI values up to the present day are calculated. although at increasingly slower rates. where the time factors and yfactors for each temperature interval are shown on the burial-history curve. Figure C shows rapid burial during the first 20 Ma.
FACTORS AFFECTING THERMAL MATURITY
Because maturity is affected by both baking time and baking temperature. TTI values differ appreciably among these four scenarios. if we forget about the cake when the oven is hot and let it burn. Furthermore. If we turn off the oven but leave the cake inside.(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. If we put a cake in a cold oven and turn the oven on. as the oven cools down. we simply sum all the interval-TTI values for the rock.64
given. the specific burial history of a rock can strongly affect its maturity. On the other hand. but quite rapid in the last 10 my. by 10 Ma of uplift and erosion. A good analogy can be drawn between oil generation and baking. we cannot "unburn" it. In A the rock was buried at a constant rate for its entire 80-my history. baking will continue. Maturity always increases. finally. The first step in calculating TTI is illustrated in the following figure.
Wyoming. 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. Most logged temperatures are too low and require correction.
. First. Only in cases where micropaleontological dating was not or could not be carried out. time data are seldom a problem. Secondly. is the single most important cause of uncertainty and error in maturity calculations. but there is no guarantee of their accuracy in any particular case. Tu = undifferentiated Tertiary. In actuality. B) Revised burial-history model for Well #1 based on the poor correlation with measured maturity data.Predicting Thermal Maturity . Temperature. Kc = Cody-Frontier formations. The model includes an extensive nonerosional depositional hiatus.65
A) Initial proposed burialhistory model for Well #1. might we anticipate possible problems with time. Age calls are often made within a million years. Present-day subsurface temperatures are difficult to measure accurately. our uncertainties about the true values of subsurface temperatures are much greater than about time. so even a rather large error in baking time will not produce a catastrophic change in maturity. in contrast. Km = Lance-Meeteetse formations. The sensitivity of maturity to temperature is clearly indicated by the exponential
dependence of maturity on temperature predicted by the Arrhenius equation.
Family of burial-history curves for a well in the Big Horn Basin. showing the evolution of the oilgeneration window through time. Various methods have been developed for this purpose. the dependence of maturity on time is linear. we usually have excellent control on rock ages through micropaleontology.(9-29)
Furthermore. and can be even better in Cenozoic rocks. Tfu = Fort Union Formation.
02 0.86 1. where presentday temperatures are maximum paleotemperatures.1 0.88 0.1 2.6 4.21 1.03 0.03 0. A question of some concern comes from the previously mentioned fact that most of the maturity models treat all types of kerogen identically. Construct a family of burial-history curves for the well and calculate the present-day TTI at total depth.Predicting Thermal Maturity .05 0.5-3 3. A plausible average surface temperature is 20° C.5 3-3.01 0.5 3.5-3 2.91 1.7 0. we still would have to extrapolate the present somehow into the past.3 1.5-3 2.51 0.06 0.26? 1.66 0.90 0. 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.59 0.48 Ro 0.02 Atomic H/C 0. The corrected bottom-hole temperature was 270° F.5 2.8 1.41? 1.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10
EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 1 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well.08 0. Despite experimental evidence indicating that different kerogens decompose to yield hydrocarbons at different levels of maturity models.91 1.5 2. an accurate interpretation of the ancient geothermal history may be critical.5 0. In other cases.0 0.51 0. even an inaccurate extrapolation into the past may not cause significant problems.9 1.71 0.5-3 2.17 0. In many cases.2 0.52 0.00 1. however.5 3.49 0. Base Pleistocene 2 Ma Base Pliocene 5 Base Upper Miocene 11 Base Middle Miocene 50 Ma
.150 ft in the Middle Miocene.21 1.5-3.33? 1.25 1.3 Bit/TOC 0.99 1.5-3 2.5
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.7 0.67 0.000 ft of Upper Miocene before being abandoned at 16. and 11.08 0.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1.65 0.65 0.5 2.07 1.18 0.4 0. It penetrated 1000 ft of Pleistocene sediments.5-3 2. 3500 ft of Pliocene.8 0.60 0. particularly where Paleozoic rocks are involved.27 0. Source-rock data tor the Turquoise Well
Depth (ft) 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500 10.5 2.91 0.27 1.85 0.08 0.3 2.22 0.66
Even if we could measure present-day subsurface temperatures with perfect accuracy.06 0.0 3-3. do not utilize different kinetic parameters for the various kerogen types.
assuming a constant geothermal gradient through time.Predicting Thermal Maturity . At a depth of 1500 ft. Age data
top Paleocene base Paleocene base Maastrichtian base Campanian base Santonian base Coniacian 55 Ma 65 73 83 87. 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.5 base Turonian base Cenomanian base Cretaceous top Kimmeridgian base Kimmeridgian 91 Ma 97 144 150 156 Ma
. 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. Total depth is reached at 6120 ft in Middle Jurassic rocks.67
EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 3 Calculate present-day TTI at 3000 m in the Red Well. Determine when each of the strata began to generate oil.end Cretaceous: 15° C 141° C 25° C
EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 4 The Ultraviolet Well is spudded in Paleocene sediments.5 88. It is also believed that 500 ft of Lower Cretaceous sediments were deposited before uplift and erosion began. Corrected BHT (4200 m): Estimated surface temp. 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. Total original thickness of the Kimmeridgian is thought to be 1500 ft. draw a burial-history curve for the section penetrated and calculate maturity for the Kimmeridgian shale. Find when the rock at 3000 m began to generate oil (TTI = 10). Evidence from related sections indicates that the Paleocene was originally about 3000 ft thick and that no other Cenozoic sediments were ever deposited.
Time-stratigraphic data are given in the following table. The source rock is thought to be about 300 Ma old.65°C/100 m and a surface intercept of 15°C are reasonable for the area. and the surface temperature today is about 15° C. upper management has decided that gas and condensate are not economical. From 40 Ma to the present about 500m of additional burial occurred. Carboniferous '' '' '' '' E. The reservoir is sealed by a thick salt layer.000 13.
.500 21. No other reservoirs are anticipated.000 18. Your responsibility is to make a recommendation regarding the nature of hydrocarbons that might be present in die prospect. Erosional removal since the Permian probably totals about 2000 ft.000 11. Nearby well control indicates that a geothermal gradient of 3.
"A regional study of the area suggests the probable presence of a thin. 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.68
EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 5 Analyze the timing of oil generation in the Pink Well.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. Because of the high operations cost.Predicting Thermal Maturity . No unconformities are recognized within the Paleozoic. Carboniferous '' Ordovician '' Depth (ft) 7.
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. The following geological summary is available to you.000 8."
Utilizing the principles of hydrocarbon generation and preservation. oil-prone source rock at about 4300m depth near the prospect. No other source rocks were noted. Highly fractured carbonates overlie the source rock. evaluate the prospect.0° F/100 ft.000 25.000 23. The geothermal gradient was found to be 1. The basin filled at a generally uniform rate from about 300 Ma to 100 Ma. they are in turn overlain at 2750m by a sandstone of excellent reservoir quality. At that time nearby orogenic activity caused the first traps to be formed during a gradual 1200m uplift lasting until 40 Ma.500 27. rich.
and terms can be used equally for gas. in the case of small fields. just what these changes amount to. We have to try to understand. Increasingly these days. and oil may be produced directly into it. Now we must see how we can apply our knowledge of the geology to assessing the amounts of petroleum that we have found. unless we can be more specific about how we are going to produce them. Because anyway there is uncertainty about this amount. So. We may distinguish between primary reserves that can be produced without any artificial assistance other than pumping. let us again emphasize that we are dealing all the time with uncertainties. We will refer to oil. It usually refers to what was there originally. What they think is beyond that in the accumulation. You may see the engineers using the term STOOIP: stock tank oil originally in place. or hope to find. which controls the amounts of oil in the reservoir. And yet oil companies need to know what to expect. it is desirable to be able to express our degree of confidence in it. secondary reserves. This may be done via a standard deviation or by a statistical probability (see below).Quantitative Assessment . How do we handle these problems? Before we get into this. once a discovery is made. which can be produced using assisted or enhanced recovery techniques. is liable to change between our information points. The stock tank is. 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. our wells. First. Proven reserves: Here we start to enter a minefield! Different companies have different definitions of what is proven. We cannot regard these quantities as `reserves'. or predict. 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. Recoverable reserves: The volume of oil that can actually be produced to surface from an accumulation. there is no way that we can know precisely how much we have found: the geology. methods. and therefore without any dissolved gas of significance. let alone how much. we are involved with a greater or less degree of uncertainty about quantities. before we started to take any of it out.
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. however.Quantitative Assessment
So far we have been talking in rather generalized terms. and tertiary reserves using more exotic techniques. until actually all of the oil has been produced. Note. we have to clear a good deal of misunderstanding and misuse. Some might use the term to refer to the amount of recoverable oil that is believed to lie within a given radius. of a well. Similarly. companies tend to use `proven' for those reserves that are believed to be present with an 85 or maybe 90 per cent degree of
. since we are never able to recover all of the oil that is down there in the reservoir. half a mile or whatever. However. they might designate as `probable'. 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. but the same considerations. we have to remember that we are dealing with a resource and that we are very concerned with the quantities involved. measured in barrels or other units that is present in an accumulation under the ground. even within oil companies. located at surface near the well-head. of the following terms:
OIL IN PLACE
This is the total volume of oil.69
10 . A bald figure for `recoverable reserves' is somewhat meaningless.
if we hear simply about `reserves'. Recoverable reserves = [BV * Fill * N/G * ? * (1 . in this case 50 per cent. It may well be that it is best to avoid the terms `proven'. Sometimes `possible' is also seen. What anyway should we regard as net reservoir? A rather arbitrary porosity cut-off value is often used. it shrinks because gas bubbles out of it as its pressure is eased during production. `probable'. and what is still there for the taking at a given date. then we can go straight to the bulk reservoir volume containing the oil. that are meant. and the thickness of the reservoir govern it. to cover the reserves that have only a 15 or 10 per cent chance of being present. the higher will be the water saturation. or rather the average porosity of the net reservoir across the entire accumulation. Usually. Probable reserves: Equally dodgy! One definition was given above: the term may be used.70
confidence or statistical probability. They refer respectively to what was there and recoverable before we started producing. This will be controlled by variations in the nature of the sediments that comprise the reservoir. and `possible' altogether. 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. 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.
Once a discovery of oil has been made. the volume of the gas cap and the water-bearing rock below the oil-water contact being discounted. This can be pretty subjective. but what happens between and beyond our well control? – Sw is the water saturation. BV will be determined from seismic and well data. – ? is the porosity. to refer to a degree of confidence or probability. If we do not know where the gas-oil and oil-water contacts are. – Fill is the `fill factor'.Quantitative Assessment . What this means and how we arrive at the figure. if we do. So we multiply the bulk volume of the reservoir in the trap by those factors that represent the non-oil. Again we need an average value for the field. 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. The shape of the trap. We do our best from measurements on core samples and from wireline log interpretation. including the adequacy of the source rock to provide enough oil to the trap. 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. faulting. – FVF is the formation volume factor. meaning that we have to try to interpret in detail the environments that the sediments were deposited in. then this factor may be little more than a guess. it is the remaining reserves.
. We then eliminate progressively everything from this volume that is not oil. Not all of a reservoir formation is going to be sufficiently porous and permeable to contribute oil to production. like `proven'. It is affected by many factors. the percentage of the porosity that is occupied by the immovable water. We have to discount those parts of it that are useless and just consider the net reservoir thickness. and regional and local geological interpretation. we shall see shortly.Sw)] * RF * Constant FVF where: – BV is the volume of the reservoir formation within the closure of the trap above the spill-point. – N/G is the net to gross ratio. which is the percentage of the bulk volume that actually contains the oil. and the quality and strength of the cap rock. even when we have information from a lot of wells. 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.
The number of answers in successive reserve ranges is plotted against the size ranges themselves. companies.Quantitative Assessment .. A constant is needed to adjust the units. we shall find that the bulk of them tend to cluster round the middle (Fig.). and again.This is because. If we are working entirely in the metric system. Different geologists will certainly come up with different values for at least some of the input factors. somewhere within which the `true' figure must be. and then analysed statistically. any one of which could be the real value. in producing figures for all of these factors. Note that the preferred answer that is usually used is the mean value. since it is about this that the standard deviation can be calculated. It is a figure that we cannot know exactly until we have finished producing. is to multiply uncertainties by uncertainties. If we plot out the answers on our list falling within successive size ranges (in barrels of oil). however. for each of the factors we work out our best estimate. we have to multiply the figure we calculate by 7758. and governments must have numbers that they can use for planning purposes. What we are doing. doubtful estimates by doubtful estimates.
. our best estimate.. there must be considerable uncertainty to say the least. The computer does the sum using these values. The list is put into order from the smallest to the largest. Instead of estimating single figures for the factors that go into the reserves formula. More commonly.71
RF is the recovery factor. Then we ask it to do the same thing again.
It will be clear to anyone that. To get an answer to our sum in barrels of oil. In a sandstone reservoir. and to try to be as honest and objective as possible. the proportion of the oil in the reservoir that we can actually recover and produce. having regard to all of the geology. we can work out the standard deviation (the ±) which will give an idea of our confidence in our answer. Then we get a computer to pick a value for each factor at random from the range we have given. the problem is tackled through a statistical technique.
Diagrammatic plots of the outputs from two Monte Carlo simulations. we give as our preferred figure the average of all the answers (the mean). 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. for this average value. Most commonly these days. but it may be a good deal less from carbonates. Alternatively one may plot the frequencies as percentages of the total number of answers: the statistical probabilities. then we don't have to worry. but biassing its pick towards our best estimate. even though they may be well aware that any such figures will eventually turn out to be wrong. and we also specify the total range. Who is right? Whose answer should we use? Can we indeed believe any of them? Unfortunately we cannot escape from the problem. then. and again. The Americans measure reservoir volume in acre-feet: area in acres multiplied by reservoir thickness in feet. until we begin to wonder whether our answer has any reality or meaning at all. from minimum possible to maximum possible. this is commonly about 50-60 per cent. So we usually have to base our estimate on prior experience elsewhere. maybe 500 or 1000 times. known as a Monte Carlo simulation. and arrive at perhaps wildly different answers. So we have a whole list of answers.
perhaps. And if all this sounds like a gambling game. This chance (probability) is known as the risk factor: it is an expression. but also the chance of there in fact being any oil at all. and 10 per cent levels of probability respectively.). we can plot out the percentages of answers in successive size ranges cumulatively as we work down the list (Fig. and ensures that all possibilities are considered. then no oil. we can read off from the graph the chances of our field containing that much oil or more. say.
. When it comes down to risk. and honest as can be in assessing exploration risk.
This is all very well. and possible at. combined with the estimate of how much. that is exactly what it is. to give the chance of discovering certain reserves or more including the 50 per cent chance that we may find nothing at all. probable. of our confidence that there will be at least some oil.72
The output from a Monte Carlo simulation with the percentages plotted cumulatively. the curve represents the chance (probability) that the reserves are a certain size or greater. By plotting the answers from the 100 per cent probability downwards. We try to assess the probability that each factor will be satisfied. 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. as opposed to assessing what we already know to be there. For example. It will give a graph which shows the probability that the reserves will be of a certain size or more. Incidently. It cannot be worked out completely objectively. if the engineers say that a field of so many million barrels is going to be needed to justify development and production costs. We have to give not only our best estimate of how much petroleum there might be.the risk factor. if any one of them fails or is lacking. and then merely combine the probabilities to give an overall probability .Quantitative Assessment . 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. but rather it is the number an individual geologist might produce to reflect his/her personal interpretation of the geology. in numbers. but it assumes that we have already discovered oil. for geological reasons. you may say.at least until we start also considering the costs and economics. the 90. The risk factor. there really is no such thing as the risk factor. Indeed it does not! When we are looking at exploration of the unknown.
Most usefully. It is this sort of thing that helps to make the oil exploration business so competitive. So this type of graph has now become one of the standard key tools in exploration/development decision. In the lower plot. it doesn't take any account of the fact that our exploration well may. It is also used to assist management in making their exploration/development decisions. Of course we try to be as scientific. now gives a more complete picture of the viability of an undrilled prospect . we have to go a stage further. This is what is used to determine those reserves that may be called proven. turn out to be totally dry-lacking in hydrocarbons. the same values are discounted by a 50 per cent risk factor. different geologists will arrive at different figures for the probability of success. management can then decide whether or not to take the gamble on developing the field at those odds. 50. objective.
and the area under that bit will represent what. is a hypothetical figure. 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. on average. Forcing these experts to agree a figure amongst them might refine the approach. Let us look at the more important ones. Use past statistics (number of barrels of oil found on average for each 100m of exploration drilling?) and extrapolate to future drilling. go for a large but very risky prospect. The obvious thing to do is to add together the risked reserves estimates of all the remaining prospects. However. get a number of experts to make their forecasts by whatever technique they prefer and. then the area under it represents the total volume of oil found to date. otherwise we may be doing little more than guessing. and calculate average quantities of oil per cubic mile of sediment. If all else fails. for example. all of them are very dodgy
. however. sometimes in combination. Delphi was the place in ancient Greece where one went to consult the oracle about one's future. it is a pretty wild sort of plot. 1. and some may be more appropriate in given circumstances than the others. if we draw a smooth line through it to even out the peaks and the troughs. or underlying each square mile of surface area. This kind of plot can be used also for individual basins or for the whole world. for our `best estimate'. This starts with the volume of mature source rock in the basin and then. Some of these will be successful. 3. However. 6. We could make comparisons between known and unknown basins. however. the built-in risk factor takes care of this. the amount of oil generated. Many `experts' have scratched their heads over the estimation of undiscovered reserves. We could adopt what is known as a `geochemical material balance' approach. In a similar vein the amount of oil found world-wide each year from the beginning of the century can be plotted. on this tack. 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. knowing how rich it is. and use the figures for the known also for the unknown ones. this technique may bring us into the right ball-park. and made available for entrapment (the `charge') can be calculated. we have to assume that today we can identify and assess all of the prospects that ever will be found in the basin. and a number of techniques have been employed. This combines in a single estimate. 4. Should we. we are said to be consulting the oracles! All of the above techniques have been used. If we have a reasonable amount of information and control. unless we really have a lot of information (we never have enough!).73
Lastly.). Extrapolate this smoothing line out into the future. we can. merely use the average of the figures they produce. then use these figures for the unexplored parts of the basin.Quantitative Assessment . expelled. 2. 5. let us note a number known as the risked reserves. but some will be dry. 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. or would our money be better spent on drilling a smaller but safer one? The risked reserves. Adding this to the original reserves will give us what is sometimes called the `ultimate reserves'-a grand total for the basin. This is known as the Delphi technique. remains to be found. We might look at explored and known parts of the basin. But we have to admit that. There are lots of uncertainties in this but the calculation would be amenable to a Monte Carlo type of simulation.
So far we have been talking about a single oil accumulation or a single prospect. qualify it by a statistical probability. Undiscovered are thus what we hope to find in a prospect area or sedimentary basin in the future. This figure is extremely imprecise and may be not much more than a guess. and as such can be very useful in planning an exploration program. the two elements of size and chance of success.