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Petroleum: Petroleum is a complex mixture of naturally occurring hydrocarbon
compounds found in rock and it can exist as solid, liquid and gaseous according to the
pressure-temperature-composition, with or without impurities such as sulphur, oxygen
and nitrogen; and there is considerable variation in its physicochemical properties like
colour, gravity, odour, sulphur content and viscosity in petroleum from different areas.
Petroleum System: The geologic components and processes necessary to generate and
store hydrocarbons, including a mature source rock, migration pathway, reservoir rock,
trap and seal are collectively called the petroleum system. Appropriate relative timing of
formation of these elements and the processes of generation, migration and accumulation
are necessary for hydrocarbons to accumulate and be preserved. Exploration plays and
prospects are typically developed in basins or regions in which a complete petroleum
system has some likelihood of existing.

(Fig 2:Petroleum System)

In addition to these four basic components, a petroleum system by definition

includes all the geologic processes required to create these elements. Crucial factors of
proven (i.e., economic) petroleum systems include:

Organic richness/type and volume of generative source rock

Adequate burial history to ensure proper time-temperature conditions for source
rock maturation
Timing of maturation and expulsion in relation to timing of trap formation
Presence of migration pathway linking source and reservoir rocks

Preservation of trapping conditions from time of entrapment to present day

Relative efficiency of sealing layers

Petroleum systems may be identified according to three levels of certainty:

known, hypothetical, and speculative (Magoon, 1988). In a known system, a good
geochemical match exists between the source rock and accumulations; in the hypothetical
case, a geochemical match is lacking but geochemical evidence is sufficient to identify
the source rock. In the case of a speculative petroleum system, the presence of economic
accumulations are lacking, but the existence of source rocks and oil/gas accumulations
are postulated on the basis of geologic or geophysical evidence.
Elements of petroleum system: The essential elements of a petroleum system include
the following:
Source rock
Reservoir rock
Cap rock
Source Rock:
Production , accumulation and preservation of organic matter are prerequisites
for the
existence of petroleum source rocks.
Photosynthesis is the basis for mass production of organic matter.About 2 billion
years ago in the Precambrian photosynthesis emerged asa world wide
Favourable conditions for the deposition of the sediments rich in organic matter
are found on the continental shelves in the area of restricted
circulation.continental slopes are also favourable for accumulation of organic
There are three major phasese in the evolution of organic matter from the time of
deposition to the beginning of metamorphism.
a) Diagenesis: this phase occurs in the shallow subsurface at near normal
temperatures and pressures. It includes both biogenic decay, aided by bacteria,
and abiogenic reactions. Methane, carbon dioxide and water and given off by the
organic matter leaving a complex hydrocarbon termed Kerogen
b) Catagenesis: this phase occurs in the deeper subsurface. Thermal degradation
the kerogen is responsible for the generation of most hydrocarbon i.e., oil
and gas
c) Metagenesis; this third phase occurs at high temperatures and pressures
verging on metamorphism . The last hydrocarbons , generally only methane are
5. The types of Kerogen present in a rock largely control the type of hydrocarbons
generated in that rock. Different types of Kerogen contain different amounts of

hydrogen relative to carbon and oxygen. The hydrogen content of Kerogen is the
controlling factor for oil vs. gas yields from the primary hydrocarbon-generating
reactions.On the basis of chemical composition in the nature of organic matter the
kerogen is classified into four basic types as:

Kerogen Type


Hydrocarbon Amount of Typical

Hydrogen Depositional

Oil prone

Abundant Lacustrine


Oil and gas prone

Moderate Marine


Gas prone



Neither (primarily composed of None

vitrinite) or inert material


(Table 3: Types of Kerogen)

a)Type-I Kerogen or saprophilic
This is essentially algal has high hydrogen carbon ratio(H:C is about 1.21.7)
b)Type-II Kerogen or Liptinic
The organic matter of this type of kerogen consisted of algal detritus,but also
contain material derived from zooplankton and phytoplankton.It has H:C ratio greater
than 1.
c)Type-III kerogen or humic
This kerogen has a much lower H:C ratio(<0.84).Humic kerogen is produced
from the lignin of the higher woody plants which grow on land.Type III sorce material is
good for gas source.
Requirements for effective oil source systems:
Oil sorce bed generation and expulsion performances are controlled by
a) Quantity of organic matter(OM): Minimum >= 0.5 wt% 0.4 wt% organic
b) Convertibilty of OM to oil
degradation:usually H/C>1.0
c) Thermal history favourable: Past-peak generation stage-83 to 84 wt%
elemental carbon or higher.
d) Generating capability of system : Distribution , thickness,
volume,richness,convertibility and thermal history satisfactory.
e) Critical release factor for oil.
f) Expulsion mechanism efficiency-5% to 10%
Over pressuring capability
Clay size mineral

Source seals.
A source rock is a rock that is capable of generating or that has generated movable
quantities of hydrocarbons. Typical source rocks, usually shales or limestone, contain
about 1% organic matter and at least 0.5% total organic carbon (TOC), although a rich
source rock might have as much as 10% organic matter. Rocks of marine origin tend to be
oil-prone, whereas terrestrial source rocks (such as coal) tend to be gas-prone.
Source rocks can be grouped into four basic categories, which are described in the table1. To be a source rock, a rock must have three features:
1. Quantity of organic matter
2. Quality capable of yielding moveable hydrocarbons
3. Thermal maturity.

(Table 1: Types of Source Rocks)

(Table 2: The most common methods used to determine the potential of a source
Generation: The most important factor in the generation of crude oil from the organic
matter from the sedimentary rocks is temperature.A minimum temperatureof 1200 F(500
C) is necessary for the generation of oil under average sedimentary basin condition.The
generation endsat 3500 F (1750 C).Time is also an important factor. The older the

sediments lower the temperature of generation.Younger sediments need higher

temperature to generate oil than the average.Heavy oils are generated at the lower
temperature where as the light oils are generated at high temperature.It takes millions of
years to generate oil from organic matter.The youngest known source rock that has
generated oil is Pliocene. At temperature higher than 3500 F crude oil is irreversibly
transformed into graphite and natural gas.
Because the oil generation has a ceiling (120 0 F) and a floor (3500 F), the
depth in the earth where oil is generated is called the Oil Window.The type of organic
matter in the source rock controls the type of petroleum generated.Woody organic matter
generated crude oil.
Reservoir: A subsurface body of rock having sufficient porosity and permeability to store
and transmit fluids is a called a reservoir rock. Sedimentary rocks are the most common
reservoir rocks because they have more porosity than most igneous and metamorphic
rocks and form under temperature conditions at which hydrocarbons can be preserved.
The most significant property of reservoir rock is its effective permeability.Obviously,
since sandstones are the best in permeability with respect to other rocks, they act as good
reservoir rocks.
Cap rock: It is an impermeable rock-material to prevent further migration of
hydrocarbons by buoyancy, and to seal petroleum within reservoir. Cap rocks are
commonly of shale or of chemically precipitated evaporite deposits such as salt or
gypsum, or biochemical alteration products of petroleum like tar.
Traps: Trap is a configuration of rocks suitable for containing hydrocarbons and sealed
by a relatively impermeable formation through which hydrocarbons cannot migrate.
Traps are described as structural traps (in deformed strata such as folds and faults) or
stratigraphic traps (in areas where rock types change, such as unconformities, pinch-outs
and reefs) or their combinations. A trap is an essential component of a petroleum system.
Petroleum migrates upwards and laterally from source to reservoir by buoyancy.
Being lighter than water, petroleum will displace groundwater and flow upwards, as well
as laterally and will seep to the surface via faults and porous overburden unless confined
under special circumstances to become trapped and to form economic petroleum deposits.
Migration of petroleum is aided by its low surface tension, so that molecular attraction
creates a film of water around grains, whereas the petroleum occupies the central pore
spaces and is separated from the water.
Structural Traps: By juxtaposition of porous reservoir and impermeable cap rock due to
folding or faulting, structural traps are created. So some tectonic or deformational
mechanism (either brittle or ductile) are always involved (Figure 5). Approximately, 80 90% of the world's proven oil reserves are located in anticlinal traps. Anticlinal traps are
commonly tens of kilometres long or even greater, and may be thousands of metres in

amplitude (e.g. Bombay high), or they may be combination of several small anticlines.
Traps may be stacked vertically on top of each other where alternating reservoir and cap
rocks have been folded in the same anticline. Fault traps are numerous, but only small.
Faults can also be detrimental by breaching the seal of the cap rock and allowing the flow
of petroleum through the fault to the surface, where it may form an oil seep.

(Fig 3(a))

(Fig 3(a) & 3(b): Schematic diagrams of structural traps)

Stratigraphic traps: By juxtaposition of porous reservoir and impermeable cap rock due
to depositional variations in grain-size of different kinds of sediments stratigraphic traps
are formed. This may be due to the thinning of lenses of sand and gravel (wedge-end
traps), the morphology of carbonate reefs in sub-circular mounds (reef traps) or by the
juxtaposition of rock types at unconformity surfaces (unconformity traps). Although
unconformities are numerous, unconformity traps account for only 4% of world reserves,
possibly because petroleum may have already escaped at the ancient surface prior to the
formation of the unconformable beds. In Indian offshore region, especially, in the East
Coast, most of the deep-water traps are stratigraphic traps like pinch-outs, unconformities
etc. In Rudrasagar Oil Field of Assam is an example of stratigraphic trap, where
petroleum exists in shoestring fluvial sandstone.

(Fig 4: Schematic diagrams of stratigraphic traps)

Combination situations: There are several combinations of situations. Rising salt-dome

has stratigraphic traps draped against the edge with normal-fault trap caused by tension
stress over the top. Some oil also accumulates in porous cap of salt-dome.
In Assam Oil-field, there exists Naga Thrust upon which Tipam Sandstone terminates
forming thrust propagation fold. This arrangement is a typical example of combination
trap in India. Unfortunately, no salt-dome trap is yet known in India.

Fig. 7. Schematic diagram of salt plug or

(Fig 5:Schematic diagrams of Combination Traps)

Migration: Migration implies movement of hydrocarbon through rocks. There are two
types of migration in a petroleum system as described below.

( Fig 6: Types of petroleum migration)

1. Primary Migration: Primary migration is the process by which hydrocarbons are
expelled from the source rock into an adjacent permeable carrier bed. It is a paradoxical
situation, because most source rocks are black shales, which have very low
2. Secondary Migration: Secondary migration is the movement of hydrocarbons along a
"carrier bed" from the source area to the trap. Migration mostly takes place as one or
more separate hydrocarbons phases (gas or liquid depending on pressure and temperature
conditions). Main Driving force for migration is buoyancy. This force acts vertically and
is proportional to the density difference between water and the hydrocarbon. So, it is
stronger for gas than heavier oil.
Examples of Different Kinds of Non-sandstone Reservoir Rocks in India:
Limestone with secondary porosity: Bombay High.
Fractured shale: Indrora and Wadu Oil Field of Cambay Basin.
Igneous rock: Fractured syenite of Borholla Oil Field of Assam, India.
Reserve Estimation:
Where A is the area in km2, H the thickness in m, the porosity, S0 the oil saturation, RF
the recovery factor (the fraction of hydrocarbons, which can be or has been produced
from a well, reservoir or field; also, the fluid that has been produced) and B 0 is the
reservoir formation volume factor.
B0 may be of two types. It can be defined as follows:

Gas FVF: It is gas volume at reservoir conditions divided by gas volume at surface
conditions. This factor is used to convert surface measured volumes to reservoir
conditions, just as oil formation volume factors are used to convert surface measured oil
volumes to reservoir volumes.
Oil FVF: It is oil and dissolved gas volume at reservoir conditions divided by oil volume
at standard conditions. Since most measurements of oil and gas production are made at
the surface, and since the fluid flow takes place in the formation, volume factors are
needed to convert measured surface volumes to reservoir conditions. Oil formation
volume factors are almost always greater than 1.0 because the oil in the formation usually
contains dissolved gas that comes out of solution in the wellbore with dropping pressure.
Accumulation:Once oil and gas migrates into the trap,it separates according to
density.The gas,being lightest.goes to the top of the trap to from the free gas cap.The oil
goes to the middle,and the water,which is always present,is on the bottom.The oil portion
of the trap is saturated with a certain percentage of oil and water.The gas-oil and oilwater contacts are buoyantand are usually leveled.In some traps ,only gas and water are
found.In other traps only oil and water are found.