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


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

6 2 . less than 1% of the annual photosynthetic production escapes from the carbon cycle and is preserved in sediments. 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.Organic Facies . Because of . Preservation of organic matter begins with photosynthesis. 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.Organic Facies THE CARBON CYCLE Because oil and gas are generated from organic matter in sedimentary rocks. however. 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. as a consequence of the much more rapid reproduction of simple aquatic organisms. the yearly productivity of both groups is about equal. comprises microbial tissue formed within the sediments by the bacterial transformation of plant and algal debris. we need to understand how this organic matter came to be preserved in the rocks. Preservation of organic material is actually a rare event. Despite the great imbalance in biomass between terrestrial plants (450 billion metric tons [t]) and aquatic phytoplankton (5 billion t).

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

however. productivity is probably not as important a factor as preservation. The term dysaerobic has been used to describe processes occurring in the transitional zone (0. and paleoclimates. The presence of undegraded marine organic material is a strong indication of anoxia. increasing preservation rates is a very efficient way to increase organic richness. paleoclimatic conditions. much oxic sediment also contains large amounts of organic matter. Anoxia is of tremendous importance in the preservation of organic matter in sediments. respectively. TOC values alone must therefore be used with caution. the accuracy with which we can reconstruct continental positions. First. and because most biological oxidation processes require molecular oxygen. All large organisms require oxygen in order to live. Thus if anoxia can develop. many species disappear. wind and water circulation patterns. These anaerobic processes are inefficient compared with aerobic diagenesis. Anoxic sediments are not always easy to recognize.5 milliliters (mL) per liter (L)).2 mL/L. However. because when the availability of oxygen is limited. PRESERVATION The principal control on organic richness is the efficiency of preservation of organic matter in sedimentary environments.8 monsoonal winds that drive surface waters away from the coast. although some species can tolerate extremely low oxygen levels (0. Because most of the oxidation occurring in the water column. Anoxic sediments always contain elevated TOC values (generally above 2% and always above 1% ). especially in the Palaeozoic. At dissolved oxygen levels below about 0. landmasses.5 mL/L). Such models are interesting. Three factors affect the preservation (or destruction) of organic matter: the concentration and nature of oxidizing agents. Its presence in . There are many more organic-rich facies resulting from excellent preservation than from extremely high productivity.Organic Facies . its use in practice has been expanded to include very low oxygen levels as well. especially of woody origin. because marine organic matter is consumed preferentially by organisms. because some of the commonly used indicators of anoxia may be misleading. some problems associated with their application. the simplest way to limit oxidation is to limit the supply of oxygen. soils. and sediments is biological. We call the zone in which oxygen contents are high the oxic zone. and we could coin the term dysoxic to describe the zone itself." hut because of the radical change in biota that occurs at about 0. preservation of organic matter will be much enhanced. and are usually limited in scope by the availability of sulfate or nitrate. oxidizing agents are probably the most crucial factor. Of these. At lower levels of dissolved oxygen. ANOXIA.2 mL/L.2-0.2 mL/L is called the anoxic zone. the zone where oxygen falls below 0. Secondly. There are. diagenesis is restricted to anaerobic processes. All these areas exhibit high productivity when upwelling occurs. if on the average only 1% of organic matter is preserved. and may in fact prove useful in future exploration efforts. essentially the only viable organisms are those that we call anaerobes. and all the other factors that influence upwelling loci is severely limited. and the sediment-accumulation rate. microorganisms that utilize materials like sulfate or nitrate ions instead of molecular oxygen as electron acceptors in their metabolic processes. After all. Theoretical models have been developed to predict upwelling (and consequent productivity) in ancient seas from input data on continental configurations. the remaining individuals often become dwarfed in an effort to survive in a hostile environment. The term "anoxic" literally means "having no oxygen. Processes that occur in these two zones are called aerobic and anaerobic. the type of organic matter deposited.

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

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

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

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

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

Note that the name of each compound ends in -ane. We have also seen that carbon atoms can be arranged in rings. these molecules are called n-alkanes or nparains. The simplest series of hydrocarbons has linear structures. but the prefixes denoting the number of carbon atoms in the other alkanes are derived from Greek numbers.Organic Chemistry . the names of the other nine simplest n-alkanes are given in the following table. Hydrogen atoms and bonds to hydrogen atoms are not shown at all. giving rise to a vast number of possible structures." The first four names are irregular. Other adjectival forms are made by dropping the -ane ending and adding yl (for example. All the compounds mentioned above are called saturated hydrocarbons or saturates. The term methyl. Each carbon atom is represented by a point. ethyl and propyl). Regular isoprenoids consist of a straight chain of carbon atoms with a methyl branch on every fourth carbon. The zigzag configuration illustrated for n-pentane is adopted to show clearly each carbon atom. Another important group of hydrocarbons is the unsaturates.14 An even quicker shorthand that uses no letters at all has evolved. In the case of 2methylhexane (C7H16) the basic structure is hexane. are able to combine with additional hydrogen. Among the most important branched hydrocarbons in organic geochemistry are the isoprenoids. and carbon-carbon bonds are shown as lines connecting those points. Branching can occur. 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. is the adjectival form of the word methane. For example. because they are saturated with respect to hydrogen. That is. 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 indicates that there is no branching in the carbon chain. Because we know that each carbon atom forms four bonds and each hydrogen atom forms one bond. The letter n stands for normal. in contrast. We have ahready encountered n-pentane. Many unsaturated compounds have carbon-carbon double . which. a CH3 (methyl) group is attached to the second carbon atom. as in "alkane. n-pentane and cyclohexane are represented by the line structures shown below. no more hydrogen can be incorporated into the molecule without breaking it apart. which we used earlier. Isoprenoids ranging in length from six to forty carbon atoms have been found in petroleum and rocks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Thus. Rich rocks will become overpressured earlier than lean ones and thus will also expel hydrocarbons earlier. Several methods exist for estimating the extent to which hydrocarbon generation has occurred in a given kerogen.Kerogen . Effective generation of hydrocarbons requires that the generated products be expelled from the source-rock matrix and migrated to a trap. In very lean rocks expulsion may occur so late that cracking of the generated bitumen is competitive with expulsion. In such cases the expelled products will be mainly gas. however. Kerogens formed from resinite will generate condensates or light oils quite early. high-sulfur oils at low levels of maturity. those rocks that generate few hydrocarbons may not expel them until they have been cracked to gas. 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. . The chemical composition of a kerogen controls the timing of hydrocarbon generation and the type of products obtained.23 idealized. Given the significant chemical differences among the various types of kerogens. Other kerogens usually follow a more traditional model. because natural variations among samples cause much scatter in experimental data. Many workers now believe that microfracturing of source rocks is very important tor hydrocarbon expulsion. Conversely. as measured by parameters such as vitrinite reflectance. We shall consider the latter briefly here. hydrogen-poor. Kerogens formed from lipid-rich organic material are likely to generate liquid hydrocarbons. Timing and efficiency of expulsion depend on a number of factors. Resinite consists of polymerized terpanes (ten-carbon isoprenoids) that can decompose easily by reversing the polymerization process. which in turn is partly attributed to hydrocarbon generation itself. Catagenesis of kerogen produces a more aromatic. this result is hardly surprising. when large geopolymers are created from biological molecules. It has become apparent in recent years that not all kerogens generate hydrocarbons at the same catagenetic levels. Microfracturing is related to overpressuring. we cannot always define the limits of hydrocarbon generation with great confidence. Source rocks that generate large amounts of hydrocarbons early are likely to expel those hydrocarbons early. Sulfur-rich kerogens decompose easily because carbon-sulfur hbonds are weaker than any bonds in sulfur-poor kerogens. SUMMARY Kerogen begins to form during early diagenesis. The chemical composition and morphology of kerogen macerals depend both on the type of original organic matter and on diagenetic transformations. although we know that oil generation does occur during the phase we call catagenesis. High-sulfur kerogens generate heavy. Numerous methods exist for tracing the history of a kerogen and determining its original chemical and physical characteristics. including rock physics and organic-geochemical considerations. Candidates for early expulsion would be very organic rich rocks and those containing resinite or high-sulfur kerogens. whereas those kerogens that contain few lipids will generate mainly gas.

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

and by their catagenetic formation from long-chain compounds such as fatty acids and alcohols.or even-carbon homologs is evident. because the concentration of n-alkanes often decreases with increasing carbon number. Carbon Preference Index. Many sediments. 27. Petroleum. In most cases. Many of the compounds and classes of compounds that we find in crude oils and bitumens are called biomarkers. 25. SPECIFIC COMPOUNDS Biomarkers. of course. or CPI. an abbreviation for biological markers. marine algae produce n-alkanes that have a maximum in their distribution at C-17 or C22. 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. especially 23. the CPI is 1.0. and 31 atoms. or members of the n-alkane series. depending upon the species present. FACTORS AFFECTING COMPOSITION OF BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM SOURCE AND DIAGENESIS Biomarkers n-Alkanes were among the first biomarkers to be studied extensively. however. whereas in other instances we may be able to limit the possible precursors to only a few species. In a few cases specific precursor organisms or molecules can be identified. If odd-carbon homologs predominate. or of the diagenetic conditions under which the organic matter was buried. the CPI is greater than 1. receive contributions of n-alkanes from both terrestrial and marine sources. Other compounds.0. of biological origin. 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). If the number of odd. In contrast. the lower-carbon homologs are given more weight in the calculation. are essentially molecular fossils. Asphaltenes can thus be removed from oils or bitumens in the laboratory or refinery by adding a light hydrocarbon. and Natural Gas .and even-carbon members is equal. For the most part n-alkanes present in terrestrial plants have odd numbers of carbon atoms. They are. The distributions are quite sharp. Sediments are also known that exhibit a strong preference for n-alkanes having an even number of carbon atoms. although we know for certain that the biomarker molecule is biogenic. even-carbon homologs predominate as strongly as do the oddcarbon homologs among the n-alkanes. which are derived from biogenic precursor molecules. (Among the acids and alcohols present in living organisms. 29.) Even-carbon preferences occur principally in evaporitic and carbonate sediments. These n-alkanes are believed to be formed by hydrogenation (reduction) of longchain fatty acids and alcohols having even numbers of carbon atoms. The most useful biomarkers serve as indicators of the organisms from which the bitumen or petroleum was derived. asphaltene molecules have not been studied in detail. however. such as pentane or propane. and no preference for either odd.Bitumen. The average of two ranges is taken to minimize bias produced by the generally decreasing n-alkane concentrations with increasing number of carbon atoms. but their sources are simply no longer recognizable due to diagenetic and catagenetic transformations. However. Their n-alkane distributions reflect this mix. Because of their molecular complexity and heterogeneity.25 them insoluble in light solvents. we are unable to use it as an "index fossil" for specific organisms. Their high concentration in bitumens and oils is best explained by their existence in plant and algal lipids. These compounds. Another important indication of the origin of n-alkanes is the distribution of individual homologs. where input of terrestrial n-alkanes is minimal and diagenetic conditions are highly reducing. CPI values can therefore .


Bitumen, Petroleum, and Natural Gas -

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

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

Bitumen, Petroleum, and Natural Gas - 27

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

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


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

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

whereas accumulation of hydrocarbons requires concentration. One occurs most commonly as a result of microfracturing induced by overpressuring during hydrocarbon generation. but will describe the most widely held views on the dominant mechanisms of primary and secondary migration and accumulation. any contribution by diffusion will be overwhelmed by that from other expulsion mechanisms. where they can be preserved over long periods of time. Based on empirical evidence. Diffusion would therefore have to be coupled with a powerful concentrating force to yield accumulations of appreciable size. microfracturing. and solution in gas. 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. In order to understand the complex sequence of events that we call migration. Each of these steps is quite distinct from the others. it is probably most effective in immature rocks.Migration . where pre-existing light hydrocarbons bleed out of the rocks prior to the onset of significant generation and expulsion. PRIMARY MIGRATION MECHANISMS Many theories about primary migration (expulsion) have been popular at various times.29 6 . Traps are the means by which migration is stopped and accumulation occurs. This chapter wi11 not go into the physics and chemistry of migration in detail.Migration DEFINITIONS Migration is the movement of oil and gas within the subsurface. but those that have been discounted will not be discussed here. Diffusion has been shown to be active on at least a minor scale and over short distances in carefully studied cores. . When the internal pressures exceed the strength of the rock. microfracturing occurs. particularly along lines of weakness such as bedding planes. expulsion. lowpermeability source rock into a carrier bed having much greater permeability. Primary migration is the first phase of the migration process. oil-phase expulsion. Secondary migration is the movement of oil and gas within this carrier bed. Furthermore. it involves expulsion of hydrocarbons from their fine-grained. By far the most popular mechanism invoked today to explain primary migration is expulsion of hydrocarbons in a hydrophobic (oily) phase. An important implication of the microfracturing model is that expulsion cannot take place until the strength of the source rock has been exceeded. Although the exact threshold value must vary considerably as a function of rock lithology and other factors. we must look at each of these steps separately. Its importance is probably limited to the edges of thick units or to thin source beds. and pressure release can be repeated. the microfractures heal. Once the internal pressure has returned to normal. Many cycles of pressure buildup. Momper's value has been widely accepted as a reasonable average. There appear to be three distinct ways in which oilphase expulsion can occur. and overpressuring commences anew. Today there are only three mechanisms of primary migration that are given serious consideration by most petroleum geochemists: diffusion. The hydrocarbons within the pores then become isolated again because of the impermeability of the waterwet source rocks to hydrocarbons. Laminated source rocks may therefore expel hydrocarbons with greater efficiency than massive rocks. The main problem with diffusion as an important mechanism of migration is that diffusion is by definition a dispersive force. During intense hydrocarbon generation. Accumulation is the concentration of migrated hydrocarbons in a relatively immobile configuration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A structure contour map resembles an ordinary topographic contour map.(2-18) Before we go further. is known as the crest of the trap. except that the contours are in depth below sealevel. so that the highest points on the map have the lowest values. Indeed.Petroleum Traps . as the beds on one side are dropped down relative to the other. and hoping for the best. they should properly be drawn with the same scale for both the vertical and the horizontal. which may give a misleading impression of `lakes' of petroleum under the ground! Structure contour maps. (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. Faults will be marked by jumps of the contours. up towards the ground surface. we need a few definitions. 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). Note that we commonly highlight petroleum accumulations by shading or colouring the reservoir formations where they contain oil or gas. before we reached our modern understanding of the geology of petroleum. THE REPRESENTATION OF TRAPS Traps are commonly depicted in two ways. it will escape to surface as a seepage.36 7 . where it is lost. Any oil getting there will be unable to migrate further and so it starts to accumulate. drilling a well into it. exploration used to consist largely of finding a trap. First. The location of a trap in the subsurface is often the first objective of an exploration program. is the spill-point: this is where oil. by displacing the water already there in the porosity. but there must also be some sort of blockage to prevent further migration. Such a configuration of the reservoir is known as a trap. To give a true representation. the ticks are on the downthrown sides of the faults. but it is often convenient to exaggerate the vertical to show the individual beds more clearly. The lowest point. If it can. (a) A simple hypothetical anticline. they can be mapped by means of contours drawn on the top of the reservoir formation. The contours are in feet below mean sea-level. is mapped by contours showing depth below sealevel. To complement the structure contour map. Nowadays we can do better. one or more cross-sections may be drawn. These are illustrated using a simple anticline as an example.Petroleum Traps We have seen petroleum generated in and expelled from the source rock formation into an overlying or underlying reservoir. This may be caused either by the reservoir itself dying out or by an interruption of its upwards continuity to the surface. 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. If then we are to find any of it still preserved. The highest point of the reservoir. which may refer either to its depth or to the spot under the ground where it lies. The top of a reservoir formation. if more continues to migrate up into the trap than can be .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

47 .Petroleum Traps .

48 .Petroleum Traps .

if G is very low. MATURITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL Knowing a rock's remaining source capacity G solves only one part of the puzzle. is it because the rock never had a high initial source capacity. 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.Source-Rock Evaluation DEFINITION OF SOURCE ROCK Much of modern petroleum geochemistry depends upon accurate assessment of the hydrocarbonsource capabilities of sedimentary rocks. the remaining source capacity and not the original capacity (Go). but which may have generated and expelled hydrocarbons. When we analyze a rock sample in the laboratory. the Phosphoria Formation of Wyoming and Idaho belongs to each of these classifications in different areas. The quantity actually measured in the laboratory is always G.. which we can call G. Analysis normally requires about one gram of rock. Go can only be measured directly for immature source rocks. instead it must be estimated by measuring G for a similar sample that is still immature.49 8 . For better communication. a possible source rock in a nearby unstudied region. This simple. For example. or is it because the rock is "burned out" (i. The term "effective source rock" obviously encompasses a wide range of generative histories from earliest maturity to overmaturity. the following distinctions can be made: Effective source rock: any sedimentary rock that has already generated and expelled hydrocarbons. we cannot measure G directly for a sample that has already begun to generate hydrocarbons. 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. Go. in which case virtually all the initial . much smaller amounts can be analyzed.e. where G and Go are identical. For example.Source Rock Evaluation . This quantity. Possible source rock: any sedimentary rock whose source potential has not yet been evaluated. overmature. and inexpensive analysis serves as the first and most important screening technique in source-rock analysis. is most meaningful if we can compare it to the rock's original source capacity. Potential source rock: any immature sedimentary rock known to be capable of generating and expelling hydrocarbons if its level of thermal maturity were higher. but if the rocks contain abundant organic matter. It follows from these definitions that a particular stratum could be an effective source rock in one place. that usage is a bit too broad and loose. it is also necessary to know what level of thermal maturity is represented by that particular G value. a potential source rock in a less-mature area. The difference between Go and G represents the hydrocarbons already generated in the effective source rock. quick. we actually measure its remaining (or untapped) source capacity at the present day. However. Although the term source rock is frequently used generically to describe fine-grained sedimentary rocks.

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

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

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

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

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

unconformities and erosional events.5 3.50 0.0 Pyrolysis Tmax (°C) 420 430 440 450 460 465 470 480 500 500 + 500 + Conodont Alteration Index (CAI) 1 1 1 1.8 3. therefore. To do this intelligently we must have the ability to develop regional models of organic facies and thermal maturity.50 2. and maturity of the organic matter present in the rocks? Satisfactory methods are available in most cases to answer all these questions.Source Rock Evaluation .00 Thermal Alteration Index (TAI) 2.2 3.4 3.3 2.5 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 Correlation of various kerogen-maturity parameters with vitrinite-reflectance (Ro) values .55 SUMMARY Any source-rock evaluation should attempt to answer three questions: What are the quantity.40 0.0 2.00 1. we should not rely on a single analytical technique. type. and organic facies. Interpretation of source-rock data on a basic level is quite simple.60 0.00 3. In some areas one technique may fail completely or may be only partially successful. we should attempt to corroborate the measured data by other analyses. Whenever possible.80 1.6 2. With increasing experience one can also learn to derive important information on thermal histories.8 4.20 1.0 3.0 4. Vitrinite Reflectance (%Ro) 0.00 4. We should always attempt to extrapolate our measured data over as large an area as possible. rather.35 1.

however.56 EXERCISES Worked out example: Perform a source-rock analysis on the Mauve Well.5 1.6 0. so "Total Oil" can be plotted against "Oil Already Generated.38 TAI 2.9 3. and then tracing the H/C ratio back to its immature value.5 2.66 0.5 2.15 0.05 0.1 3.6 2.7 2.72 0. A) Calculation of the immature kerogen H/C ratio(at A) from the present-day H/C ratio and vitrinite reflectance data(at P) .7 3.5 0." To do this. Both the immature H / C ratios and the maceral analysis data need to be scaled to calculate "Total Oil. 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 0.65 0.5 0. The calculated immature H/C ratios are listed in the table on next page.0 2-2.7 1.5 2-2.27 1.5 2. This can be done easily by plotting H/C versus TAI.86 0.81 1.0 3. quality (H /C and %Alginite + Exinite). To use the H /C data.22 1.7 1.7 2.3 0.2 3." Two independent quality measurements have been made.8 0.41 0.0 0.75 0.5 2-2. presenting the kerogen quality factor as a .3 1.6 2. and both should be utilized and examined for possible discrepancies.6 2.8 % Alginite + Exinite 75 80 80 75 80 90 85 75 70 50 45 60 45 40 ? ? Core Cuttings Data are available on quantity (%Corg). and maturity (TAI). as shown in Figure B (derived from Figure A).07 1.5 1.33 1.2 1.Source Rock Evaluation .98 0.2 Atomic H/C 1. B) H/C versus TAI for Mauve Well samples.2 2.1 2. present-day H/C ratios to the ones that the kerogens had when they were thermally immature. one must first convert the measured.77 0. refer to the graph on next page.

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 1.77 0.90 0.57 function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen in order to determine the quality factor from H/C.81 1.6 1.65 0.5 1.07 1.65 0.05 0.5 1. and not .05 0.22 1. Without more knowledge.05 0.75 0.05 1.66 0.9 0.9 1.98 0.72 0. 1750. 2000. It is apparent that there are serious discrepanties between the H/C and maceral analysis results for several of the samples. 4000. and would certainly request that the slides made for maceral analysis be reviewed.5 1.35 0. The scaled quality factors are given for each parameter in the table on next page.20 1.27 1. however.00 0.35 1.8 ? ? * * * Indicates discrepancy between quality factors calculated from H /C and from maceral analysis. The most important point being made here is that these discrepanties must be taken seriously by the interpreter.30 1.33 1. 2300.90 0.4 1.77 0.7 1. to check for analytical error. In likewise manner (not illustrated here) the quality factor can be determined from maceral analysis data. The prudent interpreter might now ask that some of the H/C ratios be rerun.90 ? ? Quality Factor Quality Factor (from H/ C) (from 1.85 1.05 1.81 1.60 0.0 0.90 0. 1500.90 0.43 1.60 ? ? * * * * * 1. it is impossible to pinpoint the error.Source Rock Evaluation .70 1.2 0.07 1. such as pyrolysis. the H/C ratio gives the lower quality factor.38 Immature H/C 1.17 0. so some systematic error is likely. In each case. the interpreter might then decide to try a third technique.15 0. The samples at 1000.6 1.35 0.6 1. If these attempts produced no resolution of the problem. and 4500 meters all show differences in the quality factors calculated from the two types of data.86 0.8 1. Kerogen quality factor as a function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen.50 1.60 0.22 1.41 0.

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

17 0.5-3 2.12 *TAI and Ro are interconverted according to the correlation table at the end of chapter 7.85 0.08 0.66 0.06 0.60 0.55 0.5 2.5 2.5-3.90 0.59 0.07 0.08 0.99 1.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1.52 0.Source Rock Evaluation .9 1.17 0.46 0.09 0.60 0.59 EXERCISE Source Rock 1 Combine the data from the Blue Well to give a coherent picture of thermal maturity in the section drilled.0 3-3.05 0.5 2.22 0.61 0.5 3-3.5 2.5-3 2.08 0.21 0.5 0.5 TOC = Total Organic Carbon Bit/TOC = Bitumen/Total organic carbon ? indicates a poor histogram TAI = Thermal Alteration Index Ro = Vitrinite reflectance .5 3.09 0.5-3 2.51 0.5 2.07 0.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10 2-2.03 0.5 2.48 Ro 0.67 0.26? 1.5 2.5 3.1 0.5-3 2.65 0.63 0.5 2.65 0.4 0.03 0.21 1.91 1.00 1.0 2.0 2.6 4.42 0.2 0.10 0.18 0.0 2.0-2.02 0.6 0.08 0.8 0.11 0.33? 1. EXERCISE Source Rock 2 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well. Source-rock data tor the Turquoise Well Depth (ft) 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500 10.06 0.01 0.49 0.5-3 2.60 0.59 0.3 Bit/TOC 0.0 2.88 0.8 1.2 2.0-2.02 Atomic H/C 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 2.25 1.0-2.06 0.7 0.03 0.21 1.3 2.02 0.41? 1.05 0.86 1.1 2.7 0.5 2.5 2.25 0.27 0.71 0.07 1.91 1.0 0.0 2.91 0.5-3 3.0 2.51 0.3 1.3 2.5 2. Explain how you resolved any apparent discrepancies.6 2.27 1.3 2.44 0.51 0.66 0.49 0.

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. In order to circumvent these difficulties. We need data that will enable us to construct a time stratigraphy for the location of interest and to specify its temperature history. If no well data are available. and migration with timing of structure development or trap formation. maturity measurements can only tell us about present-day maturity levels. we still have no clue as to when oil generation occurred. measured maturity data are of limited value in exploration. These considerations are important when we want to compare timing of generation. Nevertheless. indeed. He developed a "Time-Temperature Index" of maturity (TTI) to quantify his method. Time-stratigraphic data are usually available as formation tops and ages obtained by routine biostratigraphic analysis of well cuttings.60 9 . In 1971. 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. in frontier basins there may not be a single well within tens or hundreds of kilometers. perhaps from thicknesses of exposed sections nearby. 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. expulsion. however. This assumption is a logical and defensible one. for it is in keeping with the predictions of chemical-kinetic theory. In some areas there are no well samples available. In most cases.Predicting Thermal Maturity . however.Predicting Thermal Maturity INTRODUCTION Measured maturity values for possible source rocks are invaluable because they tell us much about the present status of hydrocarbon generation at the sample location. 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. . If no subsurface data are available. If our measurements indicate that a rock has already passed through the oil-generation window. Furthermore. nor do we know at what depth or temperature it occurred. Even in maturely explored basins the samples available for analysis often do not give a representative picture of maturity in the basin. methods have been developed for calculating maturity levels where measurements are not available. Part of this problem is a consequence of the limitations we face in attempting to obtain reliable maturity measurements. It has even been suggested that maturity models are more accurate than measured data for determining the extent of petroleum generation. estimates can be made. especially if the seismic reflectors can be tied to well data. a time stratigraphy can sometimes be constructed using seismic data. 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. 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. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

33? 1.03 0.08 0.7 0.27 1. 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. In other cases.7 0. The corrected bottom-hole temperature was 270° F.0 0. Construct a family of burial-history curves for the well and calculate the present-day TTI at total depth.48 Ro 0.000 ft of Upper Miocene before being abandoned at 16. Base Pleistocene 2 Ma Base Pliocene 5 Base Upper Miocene 11 Base Middle Miocene 50 Ma .27 0. In many cases.22 0.67 0.41? 1.3 Bit/TOC 0.9 1.06 0.06 0.1 2. EXERCISES EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 1 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well.99 1.5-3.4 0.5 2.60 0.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10 2-2.88 0.86 1.08 0.07 1.Predicting Thermal Maturity .5 3.1 0. do not utilize different kinetic parameters for the various kerogen types.91 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.00 1.49 0. Despite experimental evidence indicating that different kerogens decompose to yield hydrocarbons at different levels of maturity models.8 1.85 0.05 0.08 0.21 1.66 Even if we could measure present-day subsurface temperatures with perfect accuracy.17 0.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1.5-3 2.91 0. particularly where Paleozoic rocks are involved.5-3 2.5 3-3.6 4.5 2.5-3 3. however.51 0.8 0. 3500 ft of Pliocene. an accurate interpretation of the ancient geothermal history may be critical.18 0.90 0.66 0. however.51 0.25 1.3 1. even an inaccurate extrapolation into the past may not cause significant problems.2 0. A plausible average surface temperature is 20° C.3 2.01 0.65 0.59 0.150 ft in the Middle Miocene.65 0.91 1. A question of some concern comes from the previously mentioned fact that most of the maturity models treat all types of kerogen identically. we still would have to extrapolate the present somehow into the past.26? 1.02 Atomic H/C 0.5-3 2.71 0.5 3.5 2.5 0. where presentday temperatures are maximum paleotemperatures.5-3 2. and 11.02 0.0 3-3.21 1. It penetrated 1000 ft of Pleistocene sediments.03 0.52 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.

Corrected BHT (4200 m): Estimated surface temp. Find when the rock at 3000 m began to generate oil (TTI = 10). Total original thickness of the Kimmeridgian is thought to be 1500 ft.67 EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 3 Calculate present-day TTI at 3000 m in the Red Well. assuming a constant geothermal gradient through time. It is also believed that 500 ft of Lower Cretaceous sediments were deposited before uplift and erosion began. 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.Predicting Thermal Maturity . At a depth of 1500 ft. 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. Age data top Paleocene base Paleocene base Maastrichtian base Campanian base Santonian base Coniacian 55 Ma 65 73 83 87. Total depth is reached at 6120 ft in Middle Jurassic rocks. draw a burial-history curve for the section penetrated and calculate maturity for the Kimmeridgian shale. 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.5 base Turonian base Cenomanian base Cretaceous top Kimmeridgian base Kimmeridgian 91 Ma 97 144 150 156 Ma .5 88. Assuming a surface temperature of 10° C and a geothermal gradient of 2° F/100 ft. Evidence from related sections indicates that the Paleocene was originally about 3000 ft thick and that no other Cenozoic sediments were ever deposited. micropaleontology indicates the rocks to be of Maestrichtian age.

they are in turn overlain at 2750m by a sandstone of excellent reservoir quality. Your responsibility is to make a recommendation regarding the nature of hydrocarbons that might be present in die prospect. No other source rocks were noted.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.000 8. Highly fractured carbonates overlie the source rock. rich. "A regional study of the area suggests the probable presence of a thin. Because of the high operations cost.000 13. oil-prone source rock at about 4300m depth near the prospect. Carboniferous '' '' '' '' E.500 21. No unconformities are recognized within the Paleozoic.Predicting Thermal Maturity . The source rock is thought to be about 300 Ma old. 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. Nearby well control indicates that a geothermal gradient of 3. From 40 Ma to the present about 500m of additional burial occurred. Erosional removal since the Permian probably totals about 2000 ft. 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.500 27. upper management has decided that gas and condensate are not economical. At that time nearby orogenic activity caused the first traps to be formed during a gradual 1200m uplift lasting until 40 Ma.000 23. The reservoir is sealed by a thick salt layer. evaluate the prospect. and the surface temperature today is about 15° C. The basin filled at a generally uniform rate from about 300 Ma to 100 Ma.65°C/100 m and a surface intercept of 15°C are reasonable for the area. No other reservoirs are anticipated. Carboniferous '' Ordovician '' Depth (ft) 7. .000 11.000 18. The geothermal gradient was found to be 1.68 EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 5 Analyze the timing of oil generation in the Pink Well." Utilizing the principles of hydrocarbon generation and preservation.000 25. Time-stratigraphic data are given in the following table.0° F/100 ft.

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

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

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

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

73 Lastly. We might look at explored and known parts of the basin. however. The obvious thing to do is to add together the risked reserves estimates of all the remaining prospects. Use past statistics (number of barrels of oil found on average for each 100m of exploration drilling?) and extrapolate to future drilling. If all else fails.Quantitative Assessment . unless we really have a lot of information (we never have enough!). and calculate average quantities of oil per cubic mile of sediment. and a number of techniques have been employed. expelled. otherwise we may be doing little more than guessing. ULTIMATE RESERVES So far we have been talking about a single oil accumulation or a single prospect. the expected reserve estimates from our Monte Carlo simulation multiplied (discounted) by the risk factor (Fig. qualify it by a statistical probability. this technique may bring us into the right ball-park. This combines in a single estimate. go for a large but very risky prospect. or underlying each square mile of surface area. and the area under that bit will represent what. is a hypothetical figure. We could adopt what is known as a `geochemical material balance' approach. knowing how rich it is. the two elements of size and chance of success. and use the figures for the known also for the unknown ones. Many `experts' have scratched their heads over the estimation of undiscovered reserves. on average. However. it is a pretty wild sort of plot. In a similar vein the amount of oil found world-wide each year from the beginning of the century can be plotted. 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. the amount of oil generated. Undiscovered are thus what we hope to find in a prospect area or sedimentary basin in the future. There are lots of uncertainties in this but the calculation would be amenable to a Monte Carlo type of simulation. 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. 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. This starts with the volume of mature source rock in the basin and then. but some will be dry. we can. the built-in risk factor takes care of this. sometimes in combination. But we have to admit that. if we draw a smooth line through it to even out the peaks and the troughs. on this tack. Extrapolate this smoothing line out into the future. for our `best estimate'. Adding this to the original reserves will give us what is sometimes called the `ultimate reserves'-a grand total for the basin. then the area under it represents the total volume of oil found to date. If we have a reasonable amount of information and control. This is known as the Delphi technique. 4. or would our money be better spent on drilling a smaller but safer one? The risked reserves. We could make comparisons between known and unknown basins. get a number of experts to make their forecasts by whatever technique they prefer and. Forcing these experts to agree a figure amongst them might refine the approach. however. 6. remains to be found. to believe that we can do this would be the height of conceit. However. then use these figures for the unexplored parts of the basin. 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. merely use the average of the figures they produce. 1. 5. for example. Should we. let us note a number known as the risked reserves. all of them are very dodgy . 2. and some may be more appropriate in given circumstances than the others. Let us look at the more important ones. Some of these will be successful. we are said to be consulting the oracles! All of the above techniques have been used. 3. Delphi was the place in ancient Greece where one went to consult the oracle about one's future. This kind of plot can be used also for individual basins or for the whole world.

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