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Before one tries to understand the Geological
methods of exploration one must understand
Origin, Generation, the concept of Petroleum System. This starts
with the Origin of Petroleum.
Migration & Accumulation
of oil Commercial quantities of Hydrocarbons are
associated with Sedimentary Basins.

A Sedimentary basin may Petroleum is found in
be defined as a large linear sedimentary rocks chiefly of
depression in which
sediments accumulate marine origin.
rapidly during a particular
span of time, it has Some amount of petroleum is
significantly great thickness also found in sediments of
of sediments.
continental or non marine
As the sediments get
deposited, the basin gets origin which might have been of
subsided & the rock units marine origin and then might
within the sedimentary have been migrated into non
basin gets folded and
faulted .
marine rocks. 4

Petroleum is found in rocks In general, Petroleum occurs in the

from Pre Cambrian (4,500 rocks of :
m.yrs) to Pleistocene (1m.yrs).
Cenozoic (70 2m.yrs)
But, petroleum geologists are
mainly interested in rocks Mesozoic (200 20 to 66 2m.yrs)
which are of approx. 600 million
years old or less in age because Paleozoic (550 50 m.yrs to 200 20
almost all of the Oil & Gas found
so far is contained within the m.yrs) Eras.
rocks. 5


Age of oil
The Geologic Time Scale
Geologic events are measured in
10s, 100s, 1000s of million years,
so, it became necessary to use a
standard time scale to avoid
confusion during co-relation of
events and rocks.

The Geological Time Scale was

developed during the early 1800

history has The animal and plant fossils help in
divided into finding the age of the fossil bearing
Eras into
Periods. But, all rocks are not fossil bearing.
Periods into So other methods like isotopic
dating are used to date the rocks.
In Europe,
period has
In Isotopic Dating, the decay rates
been divided
into of radioactive materials like
& Potassium, Uranium, Thorium etc. are
period. measured and are used as clocks to
calculate the ages of various rocks.

Sedimentary rocks with abundant

organic material in non- oxidising
conditions are required for
ORIGIN OF OIL & GAS formation of petroleum.

All sedimentary rocks do not have

conditions for formation of


Conditions to be present for HC deposit to Oil Window

The most important factor in the
A source rock rich in organic material
generation of oil from organic
(0.5 5%)
matter in sedimentary rocks is
There must be heating event (65 temperature.
The zone in the earths crust where
A porous and permeable reservoir rock the oil is generated is called Oil
for it to accumulate in. window.
There must be a trapping mechanism
A min. Temp. of about 65C is
A porous but impervious Cap Rock. necessary for oil generation .

Oil Window (Cont..)

Oil can form only in a narrow zone Geothermal gradient is the rate of
of temperature (65oC to 150oC). increasing temperature with respect to
increasing depth in the Earth's interior.
If the sedimentary source rocks are
heated up to this temperature, it is
Away from tectonic plate boundaries,
said to be mature.
it is about 25C - 30C per km of depth
Deeper the depth, higher the in most places.
temperature(Geothermal Gradient).
At shallower depth, the temp. is not
sufficient to generate oil.

Oil Window (Cont..)

Major oil generation starts at about 65C
and reaches optimum at about 100C. At the Blackbeard site of Gulf of
Mexico, McMoran Exploration Co.
At temperature higher than 150C crude
oil is irreversibly transformed into
reached a drilling depth of over
graphite (Carbon) and natural gas at a 32,000 feet (9754 m), the deepest
depth of about 5500m (the process is test well in the history of gas
similar to Thermal Cracking in production.

Therefore, deep wells mostly generate



Oil Window (Cont..) Oil Window (Cont..)

In general the pressure is about 0.46
Oil generation occurs from about 2130m
(7,000ft) to 5500m (18,000ft) deep. psi per ft.
Heavy oil ( immature oil) is generated at
lower temp. in the oil window. Therefore, at 2130 m i.e. at 7000 ft ,
Light oil, called mature oil is generated at the pressure is about 3220 psi
higher temp.
At temp. above 200C , all the organic At 5500m i.e., at 18,000 ft., the
material is further broken down and pressure is about 8280 psi.
(1m = 3.28ft.)

Oil Window (Cont..)

At shallower depth, bacterial action on the
organic matter forms large volumes of
biogenic gas ( pure methane) at a very fast Generation of Biogenic gas
rate. This gas is also known as swamp or decreases with depth as bacterial
marsh gas. action decreases with increasing
This biogenic gas is rarely trapped and is temperature.
leaked into the atmosphere.
The largest gas field (about 285 Tcf),
Urengoy (Siberia), is believed to be filled
with biogenic gas.


Temperature Depth Nature of Oil &
Biogenic Gas (Methane)
Hydrocarbon generation, migration
& entrapment occur within time Min. 650C
2130m Heavy Oil
span of about 1.0 1.5 m.years. (3220 psi) OIL
Max. 1500C Light Oil
Wet Gas
(8280 psi)
Dry Gas


(A) Inorganic Theory

Theories of Origin of Petroleum
Dmitri Mendeleevs Theory (1877)
Metallic Carbide (CaC2) + Water (H2O)
(A) Inorganic Theory within earth at high temperature formed
acetylene (C2H2) , which condensed to form
(B) Organic Theory heavier hydrocarbons (as is readily formed
in the lab).
High T
CaC2 + 2H2O C2H2 + Ca(OH) 2

Inorganic Theory (Cont.):

Sokoloff (1890) proposed a cosmic
Berthelot & Mendeleevs Theory (1860, origin.
The earths mantle contained iron carbide One of the HCs precipitated as rain
which reacted with percolating water and from original nebular matter from which
formed methane. the solar system was formed and then
(Iron Carbide) (Methane)
ejected from earths interior onto the
Fe3C + 4H2O + O2 = CH4 + Fe3O4 + 2H2O
surface rocks.

No evidence for the presence of iron

carbide in the mantle.

(A) Inorganic Theory (Cont.):

Sokoloffs Theory (1980) : proposed a cosmic origin. It
proposed an extra-terrestrial source for Hydrocarbon.

Rain of Hydrocarbon The origin of petroleum by inorganic

Original Nebular
Matter EARTH sources, still remains a debatable
Rain of Hydrocarbon
Formation of Solar
System from Original
Nebula Hydrocarbon ejected
from the interior of
earth to surface rocks


It is believed that:
Coal, is formed by decay of large
masses of plant material in shallow
(B) Organic Theory: Petroleum is formed by decay of both
animal and tiny floating plant material in
stagnant water, where no oxygen exists.
Most Accepted .. The organic matter from dead plants and
animals were deposited together with
sediments in marine environments
during low energy periods of basin

Through experiments, it has been

seen that biota (flora & fauna of a
The conversion of the organic region) when heated at 100C under
matter occurs over geological time pressure for 160 days, starts
as sediments become showing conversion to the extent of
progressively buried and more than 40%.
temperature and pressure increase.
Further, when we add some catalysts
( like clay minerals, e.g. Bentonite) ,
60% conversion can be achieved by
heating at 60C for 100 days.

Over geological. time the organic

matter, mixed with mud, is buried
under heavy layers of sediments. Since hydrocarbons are lighter than
water, they tend to migrate upward
The resulting high T and P cause the
through adjacent rock layers until
organic matter to chemically change
they become trapped beneath
first into a waxy material known as
impermeable rocks, within porous
kerogen (found in various oil
and permeable rocks called
shales) and then with more heat into
liquid & gaseous hydrocarbons
(catagenesis process).



Crude oil was formed over Crude oil was formed over
millions of years ago from millions of years ago from
tiny aquatic organisms tiny aquatic organisms
called planktons that lived called planktons that lived
in ancient water bodies in ancient water bodies
mainly seas. mainly seas.

Rocks that contain sufficient

amount of Kerogen are called

When a source rock starts

generating oil and gas then it
is said to be mature.

When the Kerogen is further

heated with time, it forms
waxy, and viscous crude oil.

At greater depth, the

temperature is high and the
pressure of overlying
sediments and water column
is also high.

This make the

hydrocarbons to become

A no. of compelling reasons that support

an organic theory.
1. Carbon Hydrogen organic matter
Ohio River Valley could have had as connection.
Carbon & Hydrogen are the primary
much oil as the Middle East at one constituents of organic material (both
plant & animal).
time, but that it escaped due to a lack Moreover, carbon, hydrogen and HCs are
continually produced by the life processes
of traps. of plants & animals.
A major breakthrough occurred when it was
discovered that HCs and related
compounds occur in many living


2. Chemical characteristics of petroleum 3. Temperatures of petroleum reservoirs.

reservoirs. Temperatures in the reservoirs seldom
Nitrogen & Porphyrins (chlorophyll derivatives exceed 141C, and temperatures never
in plants & blood derivatives in animals) are exceed 200C
found in all organic matter and they are also
found in petroleum. To be remembered that Porphyrins are
Presence of porphyrins also means that
destroyed above 200C
anaerobic conditions must have been there in
the formation process because porphyrins Therefore, the origin of
are easily and rapidly oxidized and petroleum is most likely of organic origin.
decompose under aerobic conditions.
Additionally low oxygen content also implies
a reducing environment.

Sedimentary rocks are important in

petroleum geology because most
oil and gas accumulations are
found in these rocks.

SEDIMENTARY ROCKS Igneous & metamorphic rocks

rarely contain oil or gas.




Source Rocks are the porous

sedimentary rocks which originally
contained sufficient amount of When a source rock starts
organic matter (0.5 5%). generating oil and gas then it is
said to be mature.
From source rocks, HCs were able
to migrate possibly to get trapped Oil moves from source rock to
in reservoir rocks. reservoir and then accumulates.

Shales, Limestones, can act as

source rocks.

The reservoir rock is a porous and

permeable lithological unit that are
capable of holding oil, gas or water.
For a reservoir to be commercially
viable, it must be large and thick
enough with adequate pore space
RESERVOIR ROCKS capable of holding an appreciable
volume of HCs.
Sandstone, Siltstone, Porous
Limestone and Dolomites can act
as reservoir rocks.

When a sedimentary rock is observed under

microscope, number of openings or voids are
The two most important petro seen between the constituent grains of the
physical properties that control the rock.
These openings are called pores.
quality of a reservoir rock are
These pores are the locales of hydrocarbon
(a) POROSITY molecules.
So, it is important to know and quantify the
(b) PERMEABILITY volume of pores in a particular rock type,
because that gives us an idea about the
volume of HC fluid that could be present in the
This property of a sedimentary rock is termed
as porosity.


The total sum of opening or voids that Cubic packed Spheres
Porosity = 48%
occur within a rock i.e. it is the ratio of
pore space to total volume of rock.

Porosity is denoted by phi ()

= (Pore volume of rock 100) / Total

volume of rock

The more the volume of porosity, the

greater is the capacity of the rock to hold
oil, gas or water.

There are two types of porosity: Geologically, porosity can be classified into two
(a) Absolute / Total Porosity: It is (a) Primary Porosity: It is also called original
defined as the ratio of total volume porosity because it is the inherent
of pore space to the total volume of characteristic of the rock when it was
deposited. It is dependent upon packing which
rock. It includes all interstices of in turn dependent upon sorting. Porosity
voids, whether interconnected or declines rapidly with addition of fine matrix,
not. filling the interstices.
(b) Secondary Porosity: Post depositional
(a) Effective Porosity: It is the ratio of porosity. It is created ( can be formed by
interconnected pore space to total fractures). Commonly seen in limestone,
bulk volume of the rock. dolomites etc.

What is good porosity? Controls of Porosity

0 - 5% - Negligible Compaction
Over a long period of time, sediments can
5 -10% - Poor accumulate and create formations that are
thousands of feet thick.
10 -15% - Fair
The weight of the overlying sediments squeezes
15 - 20% - Good the particles together into the tightest arrangement
> 20% - Very good /
Excellent The load pressure also squeezes out the water that
occupies the pore spaces between the particles,
thus reducing the bulk volume of the formation.
Compaction affects porosity & permeability by
reducing the amount of interconnected pore space.


Controls of Porosity:
Controls of Porosity ( Cont..)
In Sandstone, porosity is largely controlled by
Poorly Sorted Rocks: Rocks that are composed
sorting. Sorting is the arrangement of grains.
of a wide variety of grain sizes and shapes.
Well Sorted Rocks: Grains are generally of the Porosity can be reduced considerably because
same size and shape. If the grains are well smaller or irregularly shaped grains can be
rounded and are of similar size, then they will not inserted in between the larger grains, thereby
fit well together, thereby leaving a large amount of reducing the amount of pore space.
pore space between the grains. Porosity in a well
sorted rock is generally high.

Controls of Porosity ( Cont..) Controls of Porosity ( Cont..)

Cementation: Cementation
It is the crystallization or precipitation of
soluble minerals in the pore spaces between
grains/particles .
Common cementing agents include calcite
(CaCO3), silica (SiO2) and iron oxide (Fe2O3).
Porosity & permeability can be reduced
significantly due to cementation.

When a well is drilled into a reservoir,

PERMEABILITY the reservoir fluid moves out of the
pores and into the well.

The rocks permeability determines at

Recovery of HCs from the reservoir is what ease the reservoir fluid can move
an important process in petroleum out or flow within the rock.
engineering & estimating permeability
can aid in determining how much HCs Permeability is measured in darcy units
can be produced from a reservoir. or more commonly millidarcy (md - one
thousandth of a darcy) after Henry


To be permeable, a formation must

Main controls on permeability are: have interconnected porosity.

1. Grain size The fluid present in the pores of a

2. Pore connectivity. rock can move only when the pores
are interconnected.

Permeability is dependent on porosity, The grain size has a negligible effect on the
but not directly related to it. porosity of a rock, but this has a predominant
effect on permeability.
If porosity is 0%, permeability is also More frictional forces are encountered while
zero, since there are no pores to be passing the same fluid through a fine granular
pack than through a coarse granular pack of
equal porosity.
But, when porosity is, say 20%,
permeability may be 0 to any quantity
depending on the nature of the porosity.
Fractured rock have very good

The relationship between the

What is good permeability? porosity and the permeability of a
given formation is not necessarily
< 1 millidarcy - Poor a direct one.

1 - 10 md - Fair
However, a high porosity is often
accompanied by high permeability
10 - 100 md - Good when they are interconnected.
e.g. sandstone has good porosity and
100 - 1000 md - Very good also good permeability.
But, Shale has got good porosity but
low permeability.


A petroleum Reservoir is a subsurface

formation containing gas, oil and water
in varying proportions.

Reservoir rocks are either of clastic or

carbonate composition.

The clastic or sandstone reservoirs form The carbonate reservoir rock is usually
after the sand grains have been found at the place of formation (in situ).
transported over large distances and
have deposited in particular environment The carbonate rocks are susceptible to
of deposition. alteration by the process of diagenesis.

The main component of clastic reservoirs

is quartz (SiO2), chemically it is a fairly
stable mineral which is not easily altered
by changes in P, T or acidity of pore

are composed of silicates,

The fluids are contained in the in the pore

spaces of rock formations (among the
grains of sandstones or in cavities of Diagenesis is due to :
(i). Welding: Is the process of
Diagenesis is the process of
The pore spaces need to be compaction of the sediments
interconnected soofthe loose
can move accumulated in lower layers of a basin
through thein the basins to solid
reservoir. due to the pressure exerted by the
cohesive rock masses either under load of the overlying sediments.
pressure or because of cementation is
collectively known as diagenesis. This results in squeezing out all or
most of the water from the sediments
and transforming into a solid rock


The pores between the rock components

e.g. sand grans in a sandstone reservoir
initially are filled with the pore water.
(ii) Cementation: Is the process by
The migrating HCs will displace the water
which loose grains or sediments in a
and thus gradually fill the reservoir in the
basin are held together by a binding pore spaces of rock formations (among
material or the matrix. the grains of sandstones or in cavities of
For a reservoir to be effective, the pores
need to be interconnected to allow
migration, and also need to allow flow of
HC towards the borehole once a well is
drilled into the structure.

The pores are referred to as porosity in Oil in itself does not have a stored force
oil field terms. or energy i.e. it cannot move itself.
Permeability measures the ability of a The only stored energy in the reservoir is
rock to allow fluid flow through its pore in the form of gas or water under
system. pressure which can move the oil into the
The reservoir need to be sealed in such a
way so that the fluids cannot escape. When this energy has been spent, only
the slow method of gravity drainage
A reservoir rock which has some porosity remains to move the oil into the well bore.
but too low a permeability to allow fluid
flow is termed tight reservoir.

The impervious rocks or stratum

that overlies the reservoir rocks is
called 'Cap Rock' or 'Roof Rock'.

The main characteristic of this rock

is to act as a seal and trap the oil
CAP ROCKS gas in the reservoir.

Shale, Massive Impervious

Limestone and Compact Clay
stones act as common cap rocks.


The clastic sedimentary rocks are classified

according to grain size.
Sediments Grain Size
Clay < 1/256 mm = Less than 0.004 mm

Silt 1/256 - 1/16 mm = 0.004 - 0.167 mm

Sand 1/16 - 2 mm = 0.167 2mm MIGRATION
Granule 2 4 mm
Pebble 4 64 mm
Cobble 64 256 mm
Boulder > 256 mm

Migration is the process of the oil and

gas moving away from the source rock.
This is a slow process i.e. perhaps a few
MIGRATION kms over a period of millions of years.
Migration typically occurs from a
. Oil moves from source rock structurally low area to a higher area
to reservoir and then because of the relative buoyancy of
accumulates . hydrocarbons in comparison to the
surrounding rock.
Migration can be local or can occur
along distances of hundreds of
kilometers in large sedimentary basins.

Natural Forces which help in bringing Migration (Cont)

about migration and accumulation of The Transformation of Oil and Gas (Liquid
Petroleum: and Natural Gas) from Solids (Organic
Matter) causes large increase in Volume
resulting in Fracturing of Source Rocks.
a. Gas Pressure.
b. Water Pressure. The burial also tries to expel Oil and Gas
c. Earth Pressure. away from the Source Rock Migration
d. Burial and Compaction of due to Lithostatic and/ or Tectonic
Sediments. Forces.
e. Selective action of gravity on the The Hydrocarbons tries to escape
rock fluids. through these Fractures and
f. Volume Expansion Accumulates in the Reservoir Rocks.


Migration (Cont.) Migration (Cont.)

Oil is Known to have Migrated

More than 300km (horizontal) away In the Williston basin of Montana,
from Source Rock. the oil has migrated more than 320
km horizontally out from the
Most hydrocarbons migrate to the source rock to the traps on the
surface as oil seeps, but some gets flanks of the basin where it got
trapped. trapped due to the presence of
suitable trapping mechanism.

Migration (Cont.) Migration (Cont.)

If there is no trap on the migration Of all the oil & gas that forms in a
route, the oil and gas will flow out sedimentary basins,
onto the surface as a gas or oil Only 0.3 to 30% is ever trapped.
On the average , only 10% of the
If there is a trap along migration oil & gas is trapped.
route, the oil & gas will Rest either did not get out of the
accumulate in the trap. source rock or, was lost during
migration or seeped into the


Migration (Cont..)
Once the water , oil and gas
migrates into the trap, it separates
according to density.
Gas being the lightest, goes to the
top of the trap to form the free gas
Primary migration is the process by which hydrocarbons are
Oil goes to the middle and water expelled from the source rock into an adjacent permeable
carrier bed.
that is always present, on the
Secondary migration is the movement of hydrocarbons along
bottom. a "carrier bed" from the source area to the trap.


Driving forces for migration:

Driving forces for migration:
Buoyancy : This force acts
vertically and is proportional to the Hydrodynamic flow: Water
density difference between water potential deflect the direction of oil
and the hydrocarbon so it is migration, the effect is usually
stronger for gas than heavier oil. minor except in over pressured
zones .

Accumulation is the phase where

hydrocarbons migrate into and get
trapped in a reservoir.
The upward migration of generated
HCs due to buoyancy continues
until it is halted by an impermeable
barrier or trap.
When hydrocarbons cease moving,
we say that accumulation has
occurred and a reservoir is formed.

What is Trap ?
A trap is produced by geological
conditions that cause oil and gas to be
retained in a porous & pervious
reservoir, or at least allowed to escape
Geological Structures at a negligible rate.
for Petroleum There are mainly 3 types of traps:
Entrapment (1) Structural Trap
(2) Stratigraphic Trap
(3) Combination Trap


The traps are created by the

Structural Trap deformation of rock strata within
Structural traps are formed by the earths crust.
tectonic processes acting on The deformation can be caused by
sedimentary layers after deposition compression or tensional forces ,
resulting into folding or faulting of the which results in the folding and
rock layers that contain the HCs. faulting within sedimentary rock

Anticlinal Fold Trap: Anticlinal Fold Trap ( Cont..) :

Folds result due to the physical bending
Sedimentary rocks are deposited in of the rock units mostly due to
essentially horizontal layers called compressional force.
Strata or Beds.
A common kind of deformation is the
The rock units undergo bending very buckling of layers into Folds
slowly over long periods of geological
The rock units undergo bending very
time which were originally laid down slowly over long periods of geological
horizontally and then folded into an time which were originally laid down
arch or dome. horizontally and then folded into an arch
or dome mostly due to compressional

Fold Trap (Cont..)

Reservoirs formed by the folding of
rock layers usually have the shape of
structural domes or anticline.
The rock beds in anticline were filled
with petroleum after it moved in from
its source below.
In an anticline, further movement of
petroleum is arrested due to the shape
of the structure and by seal or cap


In an anticlinal folds, the oil and gas get

Fault Trap
trapped at the crest.

Faults are the result of fractures

within the rock units where one side
has moved relative to the other side.
Faults usually act as barrier.

The faulted traps are formed due

to breaking or shearing and
offsetting of strata.
The escape of oil from such a trap
is prevented by non porous rocks
that have moved into a position
opposite the porous & pervious
petroleum bearing formation
which restricts the natural flow of
HCs allowing them to accumulate.


They are formed by changes in the Stratigraphic traps are
rock types ( facies change) such as formed due to:
pinch out and lenticular sand bodies
Variation in the
surrounded by impermeable rock Lithology of the
formation. reservoir rock.

The processes involved in the Variation in local

porosity and
formation of stratigraphic traps are permeability.
complex as they involve changes in
the depositional environment.


Lithological variation may be

depositional or post depositional
the truncation occur where erosion
removes a significant portion of an
existing tilted structure followed by
deposition of another litho unit, the
latter forming the roof rock.

An unconformity is a non-depositional
surface separating two rock masses
or strata of different ages, indicating
that sediment deposition was not

In general, the older layer was exposed to

erosion for an interval of time before
deposition of the younger, but the term is
used to describe any break in
the sedimentary geologic record.


Combination Traps

The traps, which are formed due to a

combined effect of structural and
stratigraphic are termed as
'Combination Traps'.
A Lenticular trap
Each effect may contribute its share
and not only one mechanism may

Salt Dome / Salt Plug Trap

Salt Dome / Salt Plug Trap
The intrusion causes the lower
They are produced by piercement formations nearest the intrusion to be
or intrusion of stratified rock uplifted and truncated along the sides
of the intrusion, while layers above
layers from below by ductile
are uplifted creating a dome or
nonporous salt.
anticlinal folding.

Salt Dome Trap ( Cont..)

Salt Dome / Salt Plug Trap
A salt dome is a mass of NaCl. This
HCs accumulates in the porous & mass of salt pushes upward from
permeable beds on the sides of the below through the surrounding rock
column of salt and also around the and sediments. The source of salt
outside of the salt plug if a seal or lies as a deeply buried layer that was
Cap rock is present.. formed in the geologic past.


Salt Dome Trap ( Cont..) Salt Dome Trap ( Cont..)

Salt beds were formed by the Salt is primarily halite that dissolves
evaporation of sea water from an as the salt dome rises, leaving the
enclosed basin. Subsequently the insolubles like anhydrite, gypsum,
precipitated salt layer was buried by limestone, dolomite etc. to form the
successive layers of sediments over cap rock.
geologic time until it starts flowing Such traps are seen in Gulf of
upward towards the surface of the Mexico, Texas, North Sea, Persian
earth. Gulf and Russia, etc.

Salt Dome Trap

Salt Dome Trap Salt Dome Trap

Salt is a peculiar substance. If you put Unlike glaciers, salt which is buried
kilometers below the surface of the
enough heat and pressure on it, the
earth can move upward until it breaks
salt will slowly flow, much like a
through to the Earth's surface, where it
glacier that slowly but continually is then dissolved by ground- and rain-
moves downhill. water. To get all the way to the Earth's
surface, salt has to push aside and
break through many layers of rock in its
path. This is what ultimately will create
the oil trap.