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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
but only within the last few years have we realized that in many areas a large portion of the natura!-gas reserves are biogenic. however. thermal reactions become increasingly important. 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. Although the transformation process is very complex. the principal products consist of smaller gas molecules. In the late stages of catagenesis and in the final transformation stage. and thus eventually bring organic diagenesis to a halt. Most of this organic matter is transformed during diagenesis info very large molecules.5 1 . and were formed as dead organic matter was converted to microbial tissues. These changes lead to a gradual cessation of microbial activity. and temperature increases. with many details still poorly understood. As temperature rises. or under different diagenetic conditions.Organic Facies . Once formed. these are the precursors for petroleum. As burial depth increases. . The earliest stage of hydrocarbon generation occurs during diagenesis. These play a key role as the precursors for oil and much natural gas. Migration through these conduits often leads to traps. where hydrocarbon movement ceases and accumulation occurs. convert some of the organic debris to biogenic methane. porosity and permeability decrease. In the early stages of catagenesis most of the molecules produced from kerogen are still relatively large. are chemically distinct from each other. the largest of which are called kerogen. Formation of biogenic methane has been recognized for a long time. Low-temperature chemical and biological reactions (called diagenesis) that occur during transport to and early burial in the depositional environment modify this organic matter. These differences can have a significant effect on hydrocarbon generation. more mobile molecules. Certain microorganisms. it is known that organic debris derived from plants and algae is best preserved in fine-grained sediments deposited in the absence of oxygen. oil and gas molecules can be expelled from the source rock into more permeable carrier beds or conduits. called metagenesis. and are called bitumen . called methanogens. kerogen begins to decompose into smaller. called catagenesis.Introduction FORMATI0N OF 0IL AND GAS Proponents of the organic origin of oil and gas have given us a general picture of how organic matter derived from dead plants is converted to hydrocarbons. Many of the chemical compounds present in sediments are in fact derived from bacteria. During this second transformation phase.
Zooplankton and higher animals contribute relatively little organic matter to sediments. however. less than 1% of the annual photosynthetic production escapes from the carbon cycle and is preserved in sediments. Some of the organic material in sediments consists of fragments of plants or algae that derived their energy from the sun. Because of . A large fraction. 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. Preservation of organic matter begins with photosynthesis. 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.Organic Facies THE CARBON CYCLE Because oil and gas are generated from organic matter in sedimentary rocks. Preservation of organic material is actually a rare event.Organic Facies . Despite the great imbalance in biomass between terrestrial plants (450 billion metric tons [t]) and aquatic phytoplankton (5 billion t). the yearly productivity of both groups is about equal. Most organic carbon is returned to the atmosphere through the carbon cycle. Oxidative decay of dead organic matter is a highly efficient process mediated largely by microorganisms.6 2 . as a consequence of the much more rapid reproduction of simple aquatic organisms.
because under normal circumstances they cannot move upward into the zone of photosynthesis. nutrient availability would depend on such factors as water circulation patterns. accumulation of organic-rich sediments cannot occur. or about 0. paleoclimate.Organic Facies . In relatively unrestricted marine environments. significant amounts of organic matter must be deposited and protected from diagenetic destruction. and Northwest Africa that result from the movement of surface waters away from these coasts. Only where there is upwelling of subsurface waters can these nutrients return to the photic zone. Depth could interfere with microbial diagenesis when compaction reduces pore sizes and nutrient fluxes in interstitial waters.000 billion t) dispersed in fine-grained sedimentary rocks. and general water chemistry. volcanism. Nutrient availability is. The three primary factors influencing the amount of organic matter in a sedimentary rock are productivity. suggesting that either depth or organiccarbon content eventually limits diagenesis. For example.1%. Peru. Although oxidative decay destroys most of the yearly production. high photosynthetic productivity will occur at the site of upwelling. and recycling by organic decay. Although some destruction of organic material occurs during transport to the depositional environment. Namibia. PRODUCTIVITY A partial listing of the many factors influencing productivity would include nutrient availability.05%) occurs in economic deposits of fossil fuels. and dilution. When we consider inefficiencies in discovery and recovery. however. predators. Each of these categories could in turn be further subdivided. and that the microbes have given up trying to digest it. FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANIC RICHNESS In order for organic-rich rocks to be formed. only one molecule out of about every one million successfully negotiates the journey from living organism to the gasoline pump. On the other hand. orogeny and erosion. Productivity is the logical place to begin our analysis. Nutrients dissolved in waters below the photic zone therefore go unutilized. over vast amounts of geologic time the small fraction that escaped the carbon cycle has built up extremely large quantities of organic matter (20. preservation. Bodies of water naturally develop density stratification. temperature.000 billion t. where there is local recycling of nutrients from decaying organisms and influx of fresh nutrients from terrestrial sources. one of the critical parameters governing productivity. In the modern world there are zones of intense seasonal upwelling off the west coasts of California. If this deeper water is enriched in nutrients. the low TOC values could indicate that the remaining organic matter has no more nutritional value. with a preference for horizontal water movement within each density layer. Upwelling occurs where bulk movement of surface water away from a particular area allows deeper water to ascend to replace it. watercirculation patterns are particularly important for supplying nutrients and thus controlling productivity. Only a small fraction of this (10. are therefore much more productive than the open ocean. Shallowmarine environments. in fact. Total Organic Carbon (TOC) values decrease monotonically through the first 300 meters of burial before levelling out at about 0. much of the terrestrial organic material is already highly oxidized when it arrives in the sediments.7 extensive oxidation of land-plant debris in soils.000. a great deal of the oxidation of organic matter occurs within the sediments themselves. carbonate supply. 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. because without adequate productivity. light intensity.
" hut because of the radical change in biota that occurs at about 0. and because most biological oxidation processes require molecular oxygen. the simplest way to limit oxidation is to limit the supply of oxygen. At dissolved oxygen levels below about 0. wind and water circulation patterns. its use in practice has been expanded to include very low oxygen levels as well. and the sediment-accumulation rate. however. Secondly. and paleoclimates. Anoxic sediments are not always easy to recognize. Processes that occur in these two zones are called aerobic and anaerobic. especially in the Palaeozoic. oxidizing agents are probably the most crucial factor. All these areas exhibit high productivity when upwelling occurs. diagenesis is restricted to anaerobic processes. There are many more organic-rich facies resulting from excellent preservation than from extremely high productivity. 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. However. The term dysaerobic has been used to describe processes occurring in the transitional zone (0. Anoxic sediments always contain elevated TOC values (generally above 2% and always above 1% ). because when the availability of oxygen is limited. Anoxia is of tremendous importance in the preservation of organic matter in sediments. and are usually limited in scope by the availability of sulfate or nitrate. There are. and we could coin the term dysoxic to describe the zone itself. some problems associated with their application. many species disappear. the remaining individuals often become dwarfed in an effort to survive in a hostile environment. landmasses. much oxic sediment also contains large amounts of organic matter. the accuracy with which we can reconstruct continental positions. the type of organic matter deposited. TOC values alone must therefore be used with caution. if on the average only 1% of organic matter is preserved. the zone where oxygen falls below 0. We call the zone in which oxygen contents are high the oxic zone. The term "anoxic" literally means "having no oxygen.2 mL/L is called the anoxic zone. although some species can tolerate extremely low oxygen levels (0. Its presence in . Of these. After all. and all the other factors that influence upwelling loci is severely limited. At lower levels of dissolved oxygen. productivity is probably not as important a factor as preservation. Theoretical models have been developed to predict upwelling (and consequent productivity) in ancient seas from input data on continental configurations.5 milliliters (mL) per liter (L)). soils.Organic Facies . microorganisms that utilize materials like sulfate or nitrate ions instead of molecular oxygen as electron acceptors in their metabolic processes. Thus if anoxia can develop. because some of the commonly used indicators of anoxia may be misleading.2 mL/L. especially of woody origin. respectively. All large organisms require oxygen in order to live. These anaerobic processes are inefficient compared with aerobic diagenesis. paleoclimatic conditions. First. because marine organic matter is consumed preferentially by organisms. increasing preservation rates is a very efficient way to increase organic richness.2-0. ANOXIA.5 mL/L). essentially the only viable organisms are those that we call anaerobes. Because most of the oxidation occurring in the water column.2 mL/L. and sediments is biological. The presence of undegraded marine organic material is a strong indication of anoxia. Such models are interesting. Three factors affect the preservation (or destruction) of organic matter: the concentration and nature of oxidizing agents. and may in fact prove useful in future exploration efforts. preservation of organic matter will be much enhanced.
once the original oxygen has been consumed in oxidizing organic matter. The presence of pyrite itself can also be deceptive.Organic Facies . The ultimate implications of anoxia for petroleum exploration are great. 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. are not rich in organic carbon. Among the ancient lake beds thought to have been deposited in permanently stratified waters are the well-known Green River Shale (middle Eocene. Furthermore. it has been estimated. most likely by absence of oxygen. The oxygen minimum layer usually begins immediately below the photic zone. slow circulation or turnover of the water column occurs almost everywhere. Lakes of the Rift Valley of East Africa are excellent modern analogs receiving much attention from both researchers and explorationists at the present time. Depths in excess of 200 m are required to prevent mixing during storms. it may well have developed after burial. Therefore. very dark. It therefore behoves us to understand the conditions under which anoxia develops. All anoxic sediments will be very dark gray or black when deposited. Lakes in failed rifts can also contain organic-rich. and its presence indicates that the anaerobic reduction of sulfate ion did occur. in fact. no more oxygen can enter. particularly in understanding lacustrine beds. Marine basins are seldom isolated enough to fit well into the stagnant-basin model. the presence of bioturbation indicates that the bottom waters were not anoxic. If an isolated body of water is deep enough. Nevertheless. the Elko Formation (Eocene/Oligocene. Lake deposits associated with continental rifting. anoxia can be very local. that most of the world's oil was generated from source beds deposited under anoxic conditions. leading to the eventual development of a pycnocline (density interface) which prevents interchange between the two layers. The cooler. they often owe their dark color to finely divided pyrite or to particular chert phases. Lack of communication between the layers prohibits replenishment of oxygen in the bottom layer. Although pyrite does indeed form under anoxic conditions. STAGNANT BASINS. Nevada). and warm climates are necessary to avoid overturn caused by freeze-thaw cycles.2 mL/L. The supply of fresh oxygen is therefore limited to horizontal . Wyoming). This oxygen minimum develops when the rate of consumption of oxygen within that layer exceeds the rate of influx of oxygen to it. however. are anoxic in some of the places where they have been penetrated. Color should be used mainly as a negative criterion: If a rock is not very. anoxic sediments. and if the climate is subtropical or tropical. and therefore that dissolved-oxygen levels were below 0. OXYGEN-MINIMUM LAYER (OML). and strata from several basins in China. Many black rocks. Color is not a reliable indicator. The laminae prove that burrowing fauna were absent. it is instructive to consider complete stagnation. and both the waters in the bottom layer and the underlying sediments will become anoxic. although stunted burrows can be used as evidence of dysoxia. where photosynthesis and turbulence can no longer contribute oxygen to the water. especially during the Triassic along the margins of the developing Atlantic Ocean. then permanent density stratification will arise as a result of temperature differences within the water column. Truly stagnant basins are actually quite rare. there is no guarantee that anoxia was present at the sea floor. it cannot represent an anoxic facies. Conversely.9 rocks therefore indicates that diagenesis was stopped prematurely. but limnic environments often are. 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. Consumption of oxygen results from decay of dead organisms that have sunk from the photic zone above. Finally. denser waters remain at the bottom. anoxic sediments show preserved depositional laminae on a millimeter or submillimeter scale.
and diminished bacterial activity.. in areas of poor circulation. Shallowly silled basins often yield evaporites. There are other ancient and modern examples of organic-rich rocks deposited under anoxic or near-anoxic conditions associated with OMLs. and grazers and predatory organism are eliminated by the high salinities. the oxygen they can contribute is limited. Evaporitic environments combine the opportunity for abundant growth of algae with ideal conditions for preservation. and high hydrogen-sulfide concentrations create conditions poisonous to predators. Although circulation in coal swamps is generally sluggish. whereas in a fluvially dominated system (Black Sea) the net flow of surface water is out over the sill. During those times the OML expanded both upward and downward because of poor supply of oxygen to subsurface waters.Organic Facies . Intensely developed OMLs occur in areas of high productivity and. Furthermore. Settings in which circulation is restricted are much more common than stagnant basins. Nutrients are concentrated by evaporation. the shallowness of the swamps prevents the waters themselves from becoming anoxic. Late Devonian) the world oceans were severely depleted in dissolved oxygen. Wherever an intensely developed OML intersects the sediment-water interface. Where the sill is shallow. The result is often deposition of organic-rich laminae within evaporites. It has been proposed that at certain times in the past (e. RESTRICTED CIRCULATION. Anoxia . its intensity varies greatly. sediments will be deposited under low-oxygen conditions. or as lateral facies equivalente thereof. the waters entering or leaving the basin are near surface. because of their connection with the open-marine realm.10 movement of oxygen-bearing waters. but it is too slow to disturb the anoxia which develops in the bottom layer. an upward expansion of the OML led to a tremendous increase in the surface area covered by anoxic bottom waters. 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.g. with the bottom layer almost isolated from the open-marine waters. It is not coincidental that these were times of deposition of large amounts of organic-rich rocks in many parts of the world. Any organic matter arriving in those sediments will have an excellent chance to escape oxidation. since most organic matter was destroyed within the overlying OML. including paleoclimate and water circulation. foreset beds within the same system are leaner in organic matter because they are deposited above the OML. Circulation is often restricted by the presence of a sill. In times like the mid-Cretaceous. to a lesser extent. Below the OML oxygen levels again increase. Coal swamps can develop under a variety of conditions in both marine and non-marine environments. Large amounts of organic material are preserved in coal swamps as a result of the combined effects of poor water circulation. which could be excellent hydrocarbon source rocks. Shallow Silling. However. as a result of diminished oxygen demand. 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. In either case. because these horizontally moving waters also lie within the oxygen minimum layer. 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. high influxes of organic matter. permanent density stratification will develop. mid-Cretaceous. when a major transgression had greatly increased the continental shelf area. High productivity reduces oxygen levels. In contrast. In an evaporitic environment (Karabogaz in the Caspian Sea) there is a net flow of water into the basin. Coal Swamps. Although an oxygen-minimum layer exists virtually everywhere in the ocean. In actuality there is a lazy turnover of the bottom waters. if the basin is deep enough. the point of connection between the restricted area and the open-marine environment. Late jurassic.
The net result is a reduction in TOC values. It may also contain very resistent organic debris derived from erosion of ancient rocks. but the organic material is almost invariably woody. or organic material. TOC values increase as sediment-accumulation rates increase. Any extensive organic diagenesis is therefore likely to eliminate algal organic matter first. because its chemical components are digestible and provide precisely the nutrients required by scavengers and predators. very slow sedimentation rates.11 develops within the sediments rather than in the water column.Organic Facies . cellulosic. DILUTION Although high sediment-accumulation rates enhance preservation of organic matter. but it does spread that organic material through a larger volume of rock. Dilution does not reduce the total amount of organic matter preserved. That material which remains is dominantly of terrestrial origin. Oxic Settings. Coals are important source rocks for gas accumulations. The extremely high accumulation rates for biogenic carbonates and siliceous sediments in zones of high productivity promote preservation of the associated algal protoplasm. thus preventing extensive diagenesis of such material. In fact. provide an ideal means of maintaining low-oxygen conditions. the phenolic components present in lignin-derived terrestrial material are toxic to many micro-organism. all of which are chemically quite distinct from each other. with their high concentrations of organic matter. Rapid deposition of inorganic detritus is common in turbidites and in prodelta shales. or resinous material. Abyssal sediments are notoriously low in organic carbon as the result of the combined effects of high oxygen levels in abyssal waters. Rapid sedimentation and burial con also enhance preservation. Lack of sulfate in non-marine swamps further prevents anaerobic microbial destruction of the organic matter. which settle several orders of magnitude faster than individual phytoplankton. TYPE OF ORGANIC MATTER. and therefore wi11 contain primarily oxidized organic matter. Organic matter of algal (phytoplanktonic) origin is consumed more readily by organisms than are other types of organic material. their virtual absence in much terrestrial organic material. cuticular. biogenic inorganic sediment. RAPID SEDIMENTATION AND BURIAL. especially in structural (woody) material. Coals also accumulate very rapidly and. but their supposedly low potential for generating oil is to be reconsidered. and other oxidative processes. lignitic. Nitrogen and phosphorus are in particular demand. Rapid burial is accomplished by a high influx of inorganic detritus. much of the organic material that does reach the bottom in deep waters arrives in relatively large fecal pellets. forest fires. and may include woody. Furthermore. Phenolic bactericides derived from lignin hinder bacterial decay in the water and throughout the sediment column. and more favorable for gas than for oil. at very high accumulation rate dilution may become a more important factor than increased preservation. Rapid settling of organic debris through the water column is also important. The hydrocarbon-source potential of all of these oxidizing facies is low. renders it of little nutritional value. Near-shore oxidizing facies sometimes have high TOC values. and low productivity in the overlying pelagic realm. as a result of more rapid removal of organic material from the zone of microbial diagenesis. because extensive decomposition occurs during its fall to the ocean floor. Most depositional settings not specifically catalogued above will be more or less well oxygenated. .
such models are not yet of much practical value for the distant past. we should always strive to place the organic rich rocks in the larger context of basin evolution through time and space. anoxia in bottom waters is a phenomenon whose effects we should learn to recognize in ancient rocks. dilution is far less marked. Because of its role in creating rocks with excellent hydrocarbon-source potential. by uncertainties about exact continental positions and configurations in the past. and the presence of high TOC values coupled with the occurrence of undegraded marine organic matter. Some of the commonly applied criteria are apt to be misleading. . Of these. Anoxic events in the past were probably not as large in scale or as long lasting as some workers have suggested. as a result of high productivity or sluggish circulation. As in the modern oceans. To derive maximum value from our analyses. preservation is generally the most important. Preservation is best accomplished where oxygen is excluded from bottom waters. lack of knowledge of seawater chemistry and nutrient availability at those times. anoxic sediments were deposited discontinuously through time and space. In biogenic sediments or coals. where sediment-accumulation rates are directly proportional to organic-carbon-accumulation rates. SUMMARY There are three principal factors that affect the amount of organic matter in sedimentary rocks: primary photosynthetic productivity. in which the organic and inorganic materials arrive together. Consequently. effectiveness of preservation. including stagnancy or near-stagnancy. such events were often interrupted for long periods before anoxia was reinduced. The most reliable criteria for bottom-water anoxia are the preservation of fine depositional laminae. and dilution by inorganic material. Models that integrate the concepts of organic richness with depositional cycles and facies analysis will be valuable tools for understanding hydrocarbon systems in basins. If the rapidly accumulating sediment is mainly clastic. and rapid burial. and a very imperfect understanding of oceanic. however.12 Dilution effects depend upon rock lithology. in contrast. It is important to be able to distinguish local anoxia or anoxia developed deep within sediments from anoxia induced by anoxic bottom waters. Rapid accumulation of sediment shortens the residence time of organic matter in the zone of diagenesis and thus promotes preservation.and atmospheric-circulation patterns. Our ability to make accurate predictions is limited. Direct control of the anoxia was thus probably local. a strongly developed oxygen-minimum layer. dilution effects may lead to lower TOC values in spite of enhanced preservation rates. are not as strongly affected by dilution. Although certain periods undeniably contain more than their share of anoxic rocks. Biogenic sediments.Organic Facies . It is often very difficult to separate the influences of these various factors in a particular depositional environment. however. There are a number of mechanisms by which oxygen depletion may be fostered and maintained. show strong dilution effects when accumulation rates are very high. however. Facies changes from carbonates to shales may create large dilution effects that can be wrongly interpreted as indicating changes in oxygen levels. Productivity can be predicted by locating ancient sites of marine upwellings. in contrast. Shales.
Organic chemistry is thus the study of carboncontaining compounds. and organic geochemistry the study of organic compounds present in geological environments. The following representations of n-pentane are equivalent: CH3CH2CH2CH2CH3 or CH3(CH2)3CH3. All compounds containing carbon atoms. and indeed in every carbon compound (except a few highly unstable ones created only in laboratories). two bonds.Organic Chemistry INTRODUCTION Anyone who uses petroleum geochemistry must be familiar with basic chemical terminology. Several different types of shorthand have therefore developed to facilitate drawing organic molecules. every carbon atom forms four bonds. The objective of this chapter is to acquaint the reader with the names of common compounds and with several different conventions for drawing their structures. We can make other logical simplifications for longer carbon chains. Examples of hydrocarbons are methane. except carbon dioxide. One common convention is to represent all the hydrogen atoms attached to a given carbon atom by a single H. carbonates. whose structures are shown below. Similarly. . especially if one has to do it only occasionally. This objective is very different trom that of a normal course in organic chemistry. and other elements. and nitrogen. Writing the detailed structure of a simple molecule like methane is no problem. NAMES AND STRUCTURES HYDROCARBONS In chemical terms a hydrocarbon is a compound containing only the elements carbon and hydrogen. Carbon atoms like to form bonds with each other. using a subscript on the H to denote the total number of hydrogens around that atom. and metal carbides. In this chapter we restrict the usage of the term hydrocarbon to the standard chemical one. however. three bonds. This usage is historical and does not imply that all such compounds are necessarily derived from living organisms. This unique property of carbon is responsible for the existence of literally millions of different organic compounds. trace metals. as it does in the real world. In each of these compounds. The structures of methane and ethane are thus represented by CH4 and CH3CH3 respectively. hydrogen always forms one bond. the explicit inclusion of every atom and every bond becomes extremely tedious. sulfur. creating long chains and ring structures.Organic Chemistry . Petroleum and natural gas are themselves often referred to as "hydrocarbons. in which one must also learn all the reactions of many classes of compounds. oxygen and sulfer." but that usage is incorrect trom the chemist's point of view because those materials often contain substantial amounts of nitrogen. If one wants to draw large molecules. ethane. are termed organic. oxygen. The chemical reactions of interest to us are very few and are discussed only briefly.13 3 . elsewhere in this text usage will vary. and cyclohexane.
The term methyl. We have also seen that carbon atoms can be arranged in rings. Other adjectival forms are made by dropping the -ane ending and adding yl (for example." The first four names are irregular.Organic Chemistry . Because we know that each carbon atom forms four bonds and each hydrogen atom forms one bond. The zigzag configuration illustrated for n-pentane is adopted to show clearly each carbon atom. ethyl and propyl). and carbon-carbon bonds are shown as lines connecting those points. is the adjectival form of the word methane. and indicates that there is no branching in the carbon chain.14 An even quicker shorthand that uses no letters at all has evolved. simple inspection shows how mant' hydrogen atoms each carbon atom must have. 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. as in "alkane. the names of the other nine simplest n-alkanes are given in the following table. Note that the name of each compound ends in -ane. but the prefixes denoting the number of carbon atoms in the other alkanes are derived from Greek numbers. in contrast. which we used earlier. giving rise to a vast number of possible structures. Hydrogen atoms and bonds to hydrogen atoms are not shown at all. are able to combine with additional hydrogen. Among the most important branched hydrocarbons in organic geochemistry are the isoprenoids. All the compounds mentioned above are called saturated hydrocarbons or saturates. Each carbon atom is represented by a point. We have ahready encountered n-pentane. n-pentane and cyclohexane are represented by the line structures shown below. In the case of 2methylhexane (C7H16) the basic structure is hexane. no more hydrogen can be incorporated into the molecule without breaking it apart. which. That is. Branching can occur. Isoprenoids ranging in length from six to forty carbon atoms have been found in petroleum and rocks. Many unsaturated compounds have carbon-carbon double . these molecules are called n-alkanes or nparains. The simplest series of hydrocarbons has linear structures. a CH3 (methyl) group is attached to the second carbon atom. The letter n stands for normal. Another important group of hydrocarbons is the unsaturates. For example. Regular isoprenoids consist of a straight chain of carbon atoms with a methyl branch on every fourth carbon. because they are saturated with respect to hydrogen. These cyclic compounds (called naphthenes) are named by counting the number of carbon atoms in the ring and attaching the prefix cyclo.
The extreme case is graphite. they are free to move throughout the cyclic system instead of being held between two particular carbon atoms. Fossil organic matter often contains a vide variety of heterocompounds. that is. Many of the heterocompounds present in organisms are converted to hydrocarbons during diagenesis and catagenesis. which are large. The hydrocarbons we discussed so far are relatively simple molecules. and kerogen are called heteroatoms. converts alkenes to alkanes and cyclic compounds during diagenesis. highly aromatic materials of .Organic Chemistry . A variety of reactions. Their stability permits aromatics to be important constituents of oils and sediments. A simplified notation for drawing these molecules permits us to represent the double-bond system by a circle within the ring. sulfur. Although they are unsaturated. nitrogen. except that the ending -ene indicates the presence of a double bond. They are named in a similar manner to the alkanes. the majority contain oxygen. Heterocompounds are also called NSO compounds. At first glance aromatics appear to be nothing more than cyclic alkenes containing several double bonds. these compounds are called alkenes. the structures of which are shown below. NONHYDROCARBONS Atoms other than hydrogen and carbon that occur in petroleum. In fact. which is an almost-endless sheet of aromatic rings. including hydrogenafion. they do not add hydrogen easily. Although they are very important constituents of petroleum. The hydrocarbons present in petroleum are mostly the end products of extensive degradation of biogenic molecules. Many common NSO compounds are not directly related to biogenic precursors. and oxygen. and cyclohexene (C6H10). Most biological molecules are larger and more complex than the simple hydrocarbons. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons having fused ring structures are quite common. Aromatics form an extremely important class of unsaturated hydrocarbons. propene (C3H6).15 bonds. or other elements. Among the most important NSO compounds are the asphaltenes. of which some are biogenic and others are formed during diagenesis. phosphorus. but they actually have completely different chemical properties from alkenes and are unusually stable. some complex hydrocarbons that are found in fossil organic material can be related directly to individual biological precursors. because the most common heteroatoms are nitrogen. Examples are ethene (C2H4) . By hydrogenation ethene thus reacts to form ethane. sulfur. The circle indicates that the electrons in the double bonds are delocalized. Aromatics possess a system of alternating single and double bonds within a cyclic structure. Because alkenes are highly reactive. In the laboratory they are readily converted to alkanes by the addition of hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst. It is this delocalization of electrons which makes aromatic compounds very stable. bitumen. the compounds in which they occur are called heterocompounds. they do not long persist in geologic environments. Some aromatic molecules are very large. these compounds are quite different trom the majority of the organic molecules found in living organisms.
providing much of the structural support for large land plants. Lignin and cellulose are major constituents of humic coals. Lignin monomers are linked topether to form molecules having molecular weights from 3000 to 10. Like lignin. Because phenols are potent bactericides. however. Although cellulose is quite resistant to decomposition under some conditions. it is an important constituent of terrestrial organic matter. the latter is the most abundant organic compound in the biosphere. It is a polymer consisting of many repetitions and combinations of three basic aromatic subunits. lignin is rather resistant to degradation. They have many characteristics in common with kerogen.16 varying structure. and thus tends to become concentrated as other organic matter is decomposed. and amino acids. Lignin is an important component of wood.Organic Chemistry . most carbohydrates are attacked readily by microorganisms. Carbohydrates include starch. which are aromatics having a hydroxyl group (OH) attached. Upon decomposition lignin forms phenolic compounds. where small amounts of preserved amino acids can be used to date specimens) . Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. but asphaltene molecules are smaller and more aromatic than most kerogens. Many nonhydrocarbon molecules common to living organisms are also present in sediments.000 atomic mass units. and cellulose. sugars. carbohydrates. Among these are lignin. They are rapidly metabolized by virtually all organisms. and thus are seldom preserved in sediments (exceptions occur in shell material and in bones.
with some of the inorganic matrix often being contributed by the algae themselves.Kerogen INTRODUCTION Kerogen is normally defined as that portion of the organic matter present in sedimentary rocks that is insoluble in ordinary organic solvents. strongly influence the ability of the kerogen to generate oil and gas. humins. which have molecular weights of several thousand or more. Today it is used to describe the insoluble organic material in both coals and oil shales. which are reflected in their chemical and physical properties. Diagenetic and catagenetic histories of a kerogen. and natural gas. Lack of solubility is a direct result of the large size of kerogen molecules. as well as the nature of the organic matter from which it was formed. Coals are a subcategory of kerogen. more complex. and less regular in structure. and the individual component parts are either destroyed or used to construct new geopolymers. Algal (boghead) coals are formed in environments where the source phytoplankton lack both calcareous and siliceous skeletal components. True kerogens. carbon dioxide. called bitumen. KEROGEN FORMATION The process of kerogen formation actually begins during senescence of organisms. Subsurface heating causes chemical reactions that break off small fragments of the kerogen as oil or gas molecules. and ammonia from the original geopolymers. will be discussed in a following chapter. Large organic biopolymers of highly regular structure (proteins and carbohydrates. The residual kerogens also undergo important changes. as well as dispersed organic matter in sedimentary rocks. Kerogen composition is also affected by thermal maturation processes (catagenesis and metagenesis) that alter the original kerogen. for example) are partially or completely dismantled. soils. The detailed chemistry of kerogen formation need not concern us greatly. These geopolymers are the precursors for kerogen but are not yet true kerogens. Oil shales. The smallest of these geopolymers are usually called fulvic acids. 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. Each kerogen molecule is unique. A basic understanding of how kerogen is formed and transformed in the subsurface is therefore important in understanding how and where hydrocarbons are generated. 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. During the course of diagenesis in the water column. large molecules that have no regular or biologically defined structure. and still larger ones. oil. having very high molecular weights. have more mineral matter than algal coals. the geopolymers become larger. whether these hydrocarbons are mainly oil or gas. humic acids. and sediments. The term kerogen was originally coined to describe the organic matter in oil shales that yielded oil upon retorting. develop after tens or hundreds of meters of burial. Coals and oil shales should therefore be viewed merely as sedimentary rocks containing special types of kerogens in very high concentrations. Diagenesis results mainly in loss of water. slightly larger ones.Kerogen .17 4 . The soluble portion. because it has patchwork structures formed by the random combination of many small molecular fragments. when the chemical and biological destruction and transformation of organic tissues begin. Humic coals are best thought of as kerogens formed mainly from landplant material without codeposition of much mineral matter. and how much oil or gas can be expected. 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. in contrast. If anaerobic sulfate .
Microorganisms prefer to attack small molecules that are biogenic. They identified three main types of kerogen (called Types I. Subsequent investigations have identified Type IV kerogen as well. The four types of kerogen. it would not be of great and direct significance to exploration geologists. or at least look very much like biogenic molecules. Kerogen formation competes with the destruction of organic matter by oxidative processes. The amount of sulfur contributed by the original organic matter itself is very small. because the bacterial enzyme systems do not know how to attack them.Kerogen . One way that we can begin is by classifying kerogens into a few general types. Carboncarbon double bonds. contain mainly the most resistant types of biogenic molecules that were ignored by microorganisms during diagenesis. in contrast. What is within our reach. About a decade ago workers at the French Petroleum Institute developed a useful scheme for describing kerogens that is still the standard today. the macerals that they are composed of. Kerogens formed under reducing conditions will be composed of fragments of many kinds of biogenic molecules. Most organic oxidation in sedimentary environments is microbially mediated. In an oxidizing environment many of the small biogenic molecules will be attacked by bacteria before they can form geopolymers. which are highly reactive. In a low-oxygen (reducing) environment. is developing a general method of describing gross kerogen composition and relating it to hydrocarbon-generative capacity. better organic preservation. and ultimately of much greater practical value. therefore. . and III) and have studied the chemical characteristics and the nature of the organisms from which all types of kerogens were derived. it is somewhat fruitless to attempt a detailed discussion of the chemical composition of kerogens. 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). in contrast.18 reduction is occurring in the sediments. KEROGEN COMPOSITION Because each kerogen molecule is unique. Geopolymers are more or less immune to bacterial degradation. and their organic precursors Transformation of organic material in sediments and sedimentary rocks. large amounts of sulfur may become incorporated into the kerogen structure. II. Even if such a description were possible. Those kerogens formed under oxidizing conditions. the subdued level of bacterial activity allows more time for the formation of geopolymers and.
In the immature state. contain far less oxygen because they were formed from oxygen-poor lipid materials. Occurrences of Type I kerogens are limited to anoxic lakes and to a few unusual marine environments. They also include contributions from bacterial-cell lipids. They are generally considered to have essentially no hydrocarbon-source potential. catagenesis.19 Type I kerogen is quite rare because it is derived principally from lacustrine algae. from Wyoming. The shaded areas approximately represent diagenesis. and metagenesis. The various Type II kerogens are grouped together. despite their very disparate origins. are normally considered to generate mainly gas. Type III kerogens have high oxygen contents because they are formed from lignin. including marine algae. successively. Cellulose and lignin are major contributors. phenols. Type IV kerogens. Type II kerogens arise from several very different sources. of middle Eocene age.Kerogen . Utah. in contrast. Heteroatom contents of kerogens also vary with kerogen type. The best-known example is the Green River Shale. and Colorado. pollen and spores. Type I and Type II kerogens. Type II (liptinitic) kerogens are also high in hydrogen. Van Krevelen diagram showing maturation pathways for Types 1 to IV kerogens as traced by changes in atomic HIC and OIC ratios. have lower hydrogen contents because they contain extensive aromatic systems. . Type IV kerogens contain mainly reworked organic debris and highly oxidized material of various origins. 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. Type III (humic) kerogens. because they all have great capacities to generate liquid hydrocarbons. Type III kerogens have much lower hydrocarbon-generative capacities than do Type II kerogens and. leaf waxes. and fossil resin. Type I kerogens have high generative capacities for liquid hydrocarbons. which mainly contain polycyclic aromatic systems. have the lowest hydrogen contents. Type I (algal) kerogens have the highest hydrogen contents because they have few rings or aromatic structures. Type IV kerogens are highly oxidized and therefore contain large amounts of oxygen. and carbohydrates. cellulose. unless they have small inclusions of Type II material. Type III kerogens are composed of terrestrial organic material that is lacking in fatty or waxy components. Hydrogen contents of immature kerogens (expressed as atomic H/C ratios) correlate with kerogen type. Most Type II kerogens are found in marine sediments deposited under reducing conditions.
. because there is not a perfect biological separation of the various types of living organic matter. Most high-nitrogen kerogens were therefore deposited under anoxic conditions where diagenesis was severely limited. interrelated. KEROGEN MATURATION INTRODUCTION Very important changes. especially when we are discussing both aspects simultaneously. whereas hydrocarbon generation focuses on the production of hydrocarbon molecules. they represent fundamentally different perspectives. In this text we shall use the terms somewhat interchangeably. The kerogen in a given sedimentary rock includes many individual particles that are often derived from a variety of sources. In principle. they are not precisely equivalent. metagenesis is not equivalent to "metamorphism. High-sulfur kerogens (and coals) are almost always associated with marine deposition. which occurs after catagenesis. but they really represent different aspects of the same process. they are to kerogen what minerals are to a rock. Maceral names were developed by coal petrologists to describe. marine. a term taken trom coal petrology. because fresh waters are usually low in sulfate. Thermal decomposition reactions. which is destroyed rapidly during diagenesis. Despite its name. called catagenesis and metagenesis. is derived mainly from sulfate that was reduced by anaerobic bacteria. By convention the term catagenesis usually refers to the stages of kerogen decomposition during which oil and wet gas are produced.Kerogen . Kerogen types are defined by the morphologies of the kerogen particles. however. forcing us to make assumptions about the source organisms. anoxic. Macerals are essentially organic minerals. The small molecules eventually become petroleum and natural gas. Catagenesis and hydrocarbon generation occur concurrently. but it also continues through the metamorphic stage. Thus few kerogens consist of a single maceral type. called maturation. Many high-sulfur kerogens are also high in nitrogen. Kerogen sulfur. 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. A list of the most common macerals and their precursors is given in the table presented earlier in this chapter. The different types of kerogen particles are called macerals. The correspondence is not perfect. break off small molecules and leave behind a more resistant kerogen residue. wherever possible. in contrast. most terrestrially influenced kerogens are low in nitrogen. Metagenesis. Sulfur is only incorporated into kerogens in large quantities where sulfate reduction is extensive and where Fe +2 ions are absent (organic-rich. Nitrogen is derived mainly from proteinaceous material. the materials from which a maceral was derived. 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. Because lignins and carbohydrates contain little nitrogen." Metagenesis begins long before true rock metamorphism. Microscopic organic analysis has reached a fairly high level of refinement and is often capable of assessing kerogen type with good accuracy. however. occur when a kerogen is subjected to high temperatures over long periods of time. in some cases. The biggest problem comes in identifying Type III kerogen. In many cases the original cellular structure is still recognizable. Catagenesis refers to transformations of kerogen molecules. proving the origin of the particle. It is possible to make a reasonably good correlation between kerogen type based on chemical characteristics and kerogen type based on visual appearance. In others the original fabric has disappeared completely.20 Sulfur and nitrogen contents of kerogens are also variable and. nonclastic sediments). Although the terms catagenesis and oil generation are often used synonymously. represents drygas generation.
Some of these changes can be measured quantitatively. 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. All kerogens become increasingly aromatic and depleted in hydrogen and oxygen during thermal maturation. For practical purposes. The real reason for following kerogen catagenesis. EFFECTS OF MATURATION ON KEROGENS Kerogen undergoes important and detectable changes during catagenesis and metagenesis.Kerogen . This complex interplay between the effects of time and temperature on maturity is discussed in a later chapter. Nitrogen loss occurs primarily during late catagenesis or metagenesis. of course. Kerogen particles become darker during catagenesis and metagenesis. it is also true that other changes in kerogen properties have little or nothing to do with it. possessing essentially no remaining hydrocarbon generative capacity. much as a cookie browns during baking. the residual kerogen gradually becomes more aromatic and hydrogen poor as catagenesis proceeds. In the late stages of maturity. These reactions are intimately related to important changes in the chemical structure of kerogen. and gas) will be discussed in a following chapter. Types I.21 This chapter will focus on those changes in the residual kerogen that accompany catagenesis. Because many of the light product molecules are rich in hydrogen. 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. Furthermore. Old rocks will often generate hydrocarbons at significantly lower temperatures than young rocks. Chemical reaction-rate theory requires that the rates of reactions decrease as temperature decreases. The most important implication of these chemical changes is that the remaining hydrocarbongenerative capacity of a kerogen decreases during catagenesis and metagenesis. It is impossible to set precise and universal temperature limits for catagenesis. Furthermore. There is therefore no necessary cause-and-effect relationship . the rates of catagenesis are generally not important at temperatures below about 70° C. because time also plays a role. however. provided that the hydrogen content of the kerogen was known prior to the onset of catagenesis. In contrast. There is a steady color progression yellow-goldenorange-light brown-dark brownblack as a result of polymerization and aromatization reactions. but it also states that at any temperature above absolute zero reactions will be occurring at some definable rate. Kerogen maturation is not a reversible process-any more than baking a cake is reversible. and III kerogens will therefore be very similar chemically. after hydrogen loss is well advanced. Although it is obvious that many measurable changes in kerogens are related to hydrocarbon generation. thus allowing us to judge the extent to which kerogen maturation has proceeded. as evidenced by low maturity. The more hydrogen a kerogen contains. The composition of the products (bitumen. the chemical process of maturation never stops completely. simply because the longer time available compensates for lower temperatures. much of the sulfur is lost in the earliest stages of catagenesis. oil. Nitrogen and sulfur are also lost from kerogens during catagenesis. including the Miocene Monterey Formation of southern California. high-sulfur oils found in a number of areas. II. even if drastic decreases in temperature occur. 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. the more hydrocarbons it can yield during cracking. but they are not necessarily identical with hydrocarbon generation. and thus are not necessarily valid indicators of hydrocarbon generation. As we saw earlier. the cracking of any organic molecule requires hydrogen. is to monitor hydrocarbon generation.
Except for darkening.Kerogen . These small compounds are much more mobile than the kerogen molecules and are the direct precursors of oil and gas. Both curves are highly . Cracking often produces free radicals. is that some of the bitumen is expelled from the source rock or cracked to gas. Kerogens. however. resulting in lower bitumen contents in the source. especially highly aromatic ones. If neither expulsion from the source rock nor cracking of bitumen occurred. Plot of bitumen generation as a function of maturity (dashed fine) compared to bitumen remaining in rock (solid line). which are unpaired electrons not yet involved in chemical honds. These structural reorganizations bring about changes in physical properties of kerogens. Some of these are hydrocarbons. A general name tor these molecules is bitumen. while others are small heterocompounds. One property that is strongly affected. Bitumen generation occurs mainly during catagenesis. The intensity and wavelength of the fluorescente are functions of kerogen maturity. For example. because the flat aromatic sheets can stack neatly. Kerogens often fluoresce when irradiated. carbon-isotopic compositions of kerogens are affected little by maturation. contain large numbers of unpaired electrons. has been widely and successfully applied in assessing kerogen maturity. the technique. Half a century ago coal petrologists discovered that the percentage of light reflected by vitrinite particles could be correlated with coal rank measured by other methods. Some properties of kerogen change very little during catagenesis. is the ability of kerogen particles to reflect incident light coherently. there would be a large and continuous build-up of bitumen in the rock as a result of catagenetic decomposition of kerogen. somewhat beyond the oil-generation window. during metagenesis the chief product is methane. the more an incident light beam will be scattered. called vitrinite reflectance. and the less it will be reflected. its structure becomes more ordered. and which can be used to gauge the extent of molecular reorganization. and no guarantee that a particular kerogen color always heralds the onset of oil generation. Because coal rank is merely a measure of coal maturity.22 between kerogen darkening and hydrocarbon generation. small molecules are broken off the kerogen matrix. The more random a kerogen's structure. the visual appearance of kerogen also does not change during catagenesis: kerogen types are generally recognizable until the particles become black and opaque. The concentration of free radicals in a given kerogen has been found to increase with increasing maturity. What actually occurs. The difference between the two curves represents bitumen expelled from the rock or cracked to light hydrocarbons. and because vitrinite particles also occur in kerogens. As kerogen matures and becomes more aromatic. HYDROCARBON GENERATION As kerogen catagenesis occurs. Free-radical concentrations can be measured by electron-spin resonance.
high-sulfur oils at low levels of maturity. High-sulfur kerogens generate heavy. The chemical composition and morphology of kerogen macerals depend both on the type of original organic matter and on diagenetic transformations. Catagenesis of kerogen produces a more aromatic. In very lean rocks expulsion may occur so late that cracking of the generated bitumen is competitive with expulsion. although we know that oil generation does occur during the phase we call catagenesis.Kerogen . It has become apparent in recent years that not all kerogens generate hydrocarbons at the same catagenetic levels. hydrogen-poor. as measured by parameters such as vitrinite reflectance. this result is hardly surprising.23 idealized. because natural variations among samples cause much scatter in experimental data. Timing and efficiency of expulsion depend on a number of factors. including rock physics and organic-geochemical considerations. those rocks that generate few hydrocarbons may not expel them until they have been cracked to gas. Microfracturing is related to overpressuring. Conversely. Source rocks that generate large amounts of hydrocarbons early are likely to expel those hydrocarbons early. Rich rocks will become overpressured earlier than lean ones and thus will also expel hydrocarbons earlier. Sulfur-rich kerogens decompose easily because carbon-sulfur hbonds are weaker than any bonds in sulfur-poor kerogens. Numerous methods exist for tracing the history of a kerogen and determining its original chemical and physical characteristics. Given the significant chemical differences among the various types of kerogens. Thus. Several methods exist for estimating the extent to which hydrocarbon generation has occurred in a given kerogen. Other kerogens usually follow a more traditional model. Candidates for early expulsion would be very organic rich rocks and those containing resinite or high-sulfur kerogens. but none of these measurements is closely linked to the actual process of hydrocarbon generation. however. Effective generation of hydrocarbons requires that the generated products be expelled from the source-rock matrix and migrated to a trap. . which in turn is partly attributed to hydrocarbon generation itself. residual kerogen as well as small molecules that are the direct precursors for petroleum and natural gas. we cannot always define the limits of hydrocarbon generation with great confidence. when large geopolymers are created from biological molecules. SUMMARY Kerogen begins to form during early diagenesis. whereas those kerogens that contain few lipids will generate mainly 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. In such cases the expelled products will be mainly gas. Kerogens formed from resinite will generate condensates or light oils quite early. The chemical composition of a kerogen controls the timing of hydrocarbon generation and the type of products obtained. We shall consider the latter briefly here. Kerogens formed from lipid-rich organic material are likely to generate liquid hydrocarbons. Resinite consists of polymerized terpanes (ten-carbon isoprenoids) that can decompose easily by reversing the polymerization process. Many workers now believe that microfracturing of source rocks is very important tor hydrocarbon expulsion.
Bitumen and petroleum compositions can also be used as tools in correlating samples with each other. Such correlations can be particularly useful in establishing genetic relationships among samples. branched hydrocarbons (including isoprenoids). but these compounds are lost from bitumens during evaporation of the solvent used in extracting the bitumen from the rock. Each of the fractions contains certain types of chemical compounds. Most of the NSO compounds appear in the remaining two fractions. triterpanes. n-alkanes. Some of these are present in relatively large quantities. Petroleum. and Natural Gas INTRODUCTION Petroleum obtained from reservoir rocks and bitumen extracted from fine-grained rocks have many similarities. are more commonly studied. 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. while others are only trace contributors. and how much is due to physical separation of chemical compounds having very different properties.Bitumen. Light aromatic hydrocarbons. NSOs. Both bitumens and petroleums exhibit a wide range of compositions. however.24 Bitumen. Petroleum. and resins. The large sizes of asphaltene units render . Major compositional changes occur in going from bitumen to petroleum. In order to understand bitumen and petroleum compositions and to use them for exploration. like benzene and toluene. and steranes. The final fraction contains very large. bitumen is almost universally accepted as the direct precursor for petroleum. Maturity also exerts control over bitumen and petroleum composition. but they also exhibit many important differences. and cyclics. The influence of the lithologies of source and reservoir rocks on these compositional changes is poorly understood. highly aromatic asphaltene molecules that are often rich in heteroatoms. have been studied in petroleums. Reservoir transformations in some cases greatly affect oil composition and properties. indeed. However. There is no doubt that they are related. contains a wide variety of small and medium-sized molecules with one or more heteroatoms. One fraction consists mainly of saturated hydrocarbons. Much of this variety is related to source-rock facies and the composition of the kerogens that generated the bitumens. In order to investigate the individual compounds present. and Natural Gas - 5 . COMPOUNDS PRESENT IN BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM GENERAL CLASSES OF COMPOUNDS Both bitumen and petroleum contain a very large number of different chemical compounds. Asphaltenes tend to aggregate into stacks because of their planarity. we first separate a crude oil or a bitumen into several fractions having distinct properties. Heavier aromatic and naphthenoaromatic hydrocarbons. We also do not know how much of the change involves chemical reactions. variously called polars. A second fraction consists of aromatic hydrocarbons and some light sulfur-containing compounds. and form complexes with molecular weights of perhaps 50.000. Few of these heterocompounds have been studied carefully. but we are not certain whether they occur mainly within the source rock or during migration through the reservoir rock. many unanswered questions remain about the processes that transform bitumen into petroleum. particularly those derived from diterpanes. This chapter will compare and contrast bitumen and petroleum compositions and examine the factors responsible for the observed differences. Saturated hydrocarbons are the most thoroughly studied of the components of petroleum and bitumen because they are the easiest to work with analytically. The lighter of these fractions.
or even-carbon homologs is evident. If odd-carbon homologs predominate. whereas in other instances we may be able to limit the possible precursors to only a few species. Other compounds. and 31 atoms. (Among the acids and alcohols present in living organisms. Their n-alkane distributions reflect this mix. Another important indication of the origin of n-alkanes is the distribution of individual homologs. In a few cases specific precursor organisms or molecules can be identified. marine algae produce n-alkanes that have a maximum in their distribution at C-17 or C22. but their sources are simply no longer recognizable due to diagenetic and catagenetic transformations. or CPI. In most cases. such as pentane or propane. where input of terrestrial n-alkanes is minimal and diagenetic conditions are highly reducing.0. especially 23. The average of two ranges is taken to minimize bias produced by the generally decreasing n-alkane concentrations with increasing number of carbon atoms. However. or members of the n-alkane series. Carbon Preference Index. depending upon the species present. we are unable to use it as an "index fossil" for specific organisms. the CPI is 1. and Natural Gas . the CPI is greater than 1. however. These compounds. The most useful biomarkers serve as indicators of the organisms from which the bitumen or petroleum was derived. FACTORS AFFECTING COMPOSITION OF BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM SOURCE AND DIAGENESIS Biomarkers n-Alkanes were among the first biomarkers to be studied extensively. Because of their molecular complexity and heterogeneity. Their high concentration in bitumens and oils is best explained by their existence in plant and algal lipids. receive contributions of n-alkanes from both terrestrial and marine sources. an abbreviation for biological markers. These n-alkanes are believed to be formed by hydrogenation (reduction) of longchain fatty acids and alcohols having even numbers of carbon atoms. are essentially molecular fossils. and by their catagenetic formation from long-chain compounds such as fatty acids and alcohols. however.Bitumen. 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. of course. The distributions are quite sharp. CPI values can therefore . Many sediments. the lower-carbon homologs are given more weight in the calculation. For the most part n-alkanes present in terrestrial plants have odd numbers of carbon atoms. In contrast. SPECIFIC COMPOUNDS Biomarkers. or of the diagenetic conditions under which the organic matter was buried. Many of the compounds and classes of compounds that we find in crude oils and bitumens are called biomarkers. because the concentration of n-alkanes often decreases with increasing carbon number.0. and no preference for either odd.) Even-carbon preferences occur principally in evaporitic and carbonate sediments. 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).and even-carbon members is equal. 27. Asphaltenes can thus be removed from oils or bitumens in the laboratory or refinery by adding a light hydrocarbon. 25. of biological origin. which are derived from biogenic precursor molecules. If the number of odd. 29. Petroleum.25 them insoluble in light solvents. although we know for certain that the biomarker molecule is biogenic. They are. Sediments are also known that exhibit a strong preference for n-alkanes having an even number of carbon atoms. even-carbon homologs predominate as strongly as do the oddcarbon homologs among the n-alkanes. asphaltene molecules have not been studied in detail.
Bitumen, Petroleum, and Natural Gas -
deviate from 1.0 even when no preference is distinguishable by visual inspection of the distribution curve. n-Alkane distributions are greatly modified by thermal maturity. Chain lengths gradually become shorter, and the original n-alkanes present in the immature sample are diluted with new n-alkanes generated during catagenesis. Because the newly generated n-alkanes show little or no preference for either odd- or even-carbon homologs, CPI values approach 1.0 as maturity increases. n-Alkane distributions in bitumens and oils derived from algae do not show the influences of maturity as clearly because the original CPI values are already very close to 1.0. It is therefore often difficult to estimate maturity levels in pelagic rocks on the basis of n-alkane data. Parameters other than Biomarkers. Sulfur contents are also strongly influenced by diagenetic conditions. For economic and environmental reasons, oils having more than about 0.5% sulfur are designated as high-sulfur. Many high-sulfur oils contain 1% sulfur or less, but in some areas sulfur contents can reach 7% (Monterey oils from the onshore Santa Maria area, southern California, for example). A few oils contain more than 10%. These high-sulfur bitumens and crude oils are derived from high-sulfur kerogens. As we saw earlier, sulfur is incorporated into kerogens formed in nonclastic sediments that accumulate where anaerobic sulfate reduction is important. Most oils and bitumens derived from lacustrine or ordinary clastic marine source rocks will be low in sulfur content, whereas those from euxinic or anoxic marine source rocks will be high-sulfur. Sulfur occurs predominantly in the heavy fractions of oils and bitumens, particularly in the asphaltenes. High-sulfur oils therefore have elevated asphaltene contents.
Introduction. There are two main types of reservoir transformations that can affect crude oils (reservoir transformations are not applicable to bitumen because, by definition, the material in a reservoir is petroleum). Thermal processes occurring in reservoirs include cracking and deasphalting. Nonthermal processes are water washing and biodegradation. Of these, cracking and biodegradation are by far the most important. Cracking and Deasphalting. Cracking, which breaks large molecules down into smaller ones, can convert a heavy, heteroatom-rich off into a lighter, sweeter one. Waxy oils become less waxy. API gravities increase, and pour points and viscosities decrease. When cracking is extreme, the products become condensate, wet gas, or dry gas. Cracking is a function of both time and temperature, as well as of the composition of the oil and the catalytic potential of the reservoir rock. It is therefore impossible to state that cracking always occurs at a certain depth or reservoir temperature. Most oils, however, will be reasonably stable at reservoir temperatures below about 90° C, regardless of the length of time they spend there. On the other hand, a reservoir above 120° C will contain normal oil only if the oil is a recent arrival. Although the role of catalysis in hydrocarbon cracking in reservoirs has not been proven, many workers suspect that clay minerals are important facilitators of hydrocarbon breakdown. Catalytic effectiveness varies greatly from one clay mineral to another, however, and our partial understanding of this difficult subject is not of much practical use at the present time. Cracking also brings about deasphalting, because asphaltene molecules become less soluble as the oil becomes lighter. Precipitation of asphaltenes in the reservoir will lower sulfur content and increase API gravity appreciably. Biodegradation and water washing. Water washing involves selective dissolution of the most soluble components of crude oils in waters that come in contact with the oils. The smallest hydrocarbon molecules and the light aromatics, such as benzene, are the most soluble. The effects of water washing are rather difficult to determine because they do not affect the oil fractions that
Bitumen, Petroleum, and Natural Gas - 27
are most frequently studied. Furthermore, in most cases the effects are quite small because of the low solubilities of all hydrocarbons in water. Finally, water washing and biodegradation often occur together, with the more dramatic effects of biodegradation obscuring those of water washing. Biodegradation is a transformation process of major importance. Under certain conditions some species of bacteria are able to destroy some of the compounds present in crude oil, using them as a source of energy. The bacteria responsible for biodegradation are probably a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic strains. Only aerobic bacteria are believed to actually attack hydrocarbons, but anaerobes may consume some of the partially oxidized byproducts of initial aerobic attack. Because biodegradation changes the physical properties of oils, it can have serious negative financial implications. Heavily biodegraded oils are often impossible to produce (Athabasca Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada, and the Orinoco heavy oils of Venezuela, for example). If production is physically possible, it may be expensive or uneconomic. It is therefore important to understand where and why biodegradation occurs, and what its effects are on oil composition. Biodegradation may actually start during oil migration (provided required temperature and oxygen conditions are met), because oil-water interactions are maximized then. Most biodegradation probably occurs within reservoirs, however, since the length of time an oil spends in a reservoir is usually much longer than its transit time during migration. Biodegradation can vary in intensity from very light to extremely heavy. Because the chemical and physical properties of an oil change dramatically in several predictable ways during biodegradation, biodegraded oils are easily recognized. Many basins have at least a few biodegraded oils, and in some areas they are epidemic. Bacteria that consume petroleum hydrocarbons have strong preferences. Hydrocarbons are not their very favorite foods, and they eat them only because there is nothing else available. The preferred hydrocarbons are n-alkanes, presumably because their straight-chain configurations allow the bacterial enzymes to work on them most efficiently. Also attractive to the "bugs" are long, alkyl side-chains attached to cyclic structures. After the n-alkanes and alkyl groups are consumed, the bacteria begin to destroy compounds having only a single methyl branch or those having widely spaced branches. Then they move on to morehighly branched compounds, such as the isoprenoids. In the last stages of biodegradation, polycyclic alkanes are attacked. Because the hierarchy of bacterial attack on crude oils is well known, it is possible to assess the degree of biodegradation by observing which compounds have been destroyed. Sulfur contents of crude oils also increase as a result of biodegradation. In a heavily biodegraded oil the sulfur content may increase by a factor of two or three. Sulfur is undoubtedly concentrated in the oil by selective removal of hydrocarbons, and may also be added by bacterially mediated sulfate reduction.
COMPARISON OF BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM
Although bitumens and crude oils contain the same compounds, the relative amounts are quite different. In the process of converting bitumen to petroleum, either the NSO compounds are lost in large quantities, or they are converted to hydrocarbons. In actuality, both processes probably occur, although selective loss of nonhydrocarbons during expulsion is probably most effective in concentrating the hydrocarbons. Bitumen composition depends strongly on the lithology of the host rock. Carbonates contain bitumens that are much richer in heterocompounds than are shales, and their hydrocarbon fractions are more aromatic. These differences are the result of the higher sulfur contents of kerogens in carbonates. Oils derived from carbonate sources are also richer in heterocompounds than oils sourced from shales.
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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.
and solution in gas. but those that have been discounted will not be discussed here. where they can be preserved over long periods of time. any contribution by diffusion will be overwhelmed by that from other expulsion mechanisms.29 6 . There appear to be three distinct ways in which oilphase expulsion can occur. where pre-existing light hydrocarbons bleed out of the rocks prior to the onset of significant generation and expulsion. we must look at each of these steps separately. Many cycles of pressure buildup. but will describe the most widely held views on the dominant mechanisms of primary and secondary migration and accumulation. 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. oil-phase expulsion.Migration . whereas accumulation of hydrocarbons requires concentration. Today there are only three mechanisms of primary migration that are given serious consideration by most petroleum geochemists: diffusion. PRIMARY MIGRATION MECHANISMS Many theories about primary migration (expulsion) have been popular at various times. Although the exact threshold value must vary considerably as a function of rock lithology and other factors. During intense hydrocarbon generation. Its importance is probably limited to the edges of thick units or to thin source beds. microfracturing occurs. and overpressuring commences anew. Diffusion would therefore have to be coupled with a powerful concentrating force to yield accumulations of appreciable size. The main problem with diffusion as an important mechanism of migration is that diffusion is by definition a dispersive force. Once the internal pressure has returned to normal. When the internal pressures exceed the strength of the rock. Momper's value has been widely accepted as a reasonable average. Primary migration is the first phase of the migration process. The hydrocarbons within the pores then become isolated again because of the impermeability of the waterwet source rocks to hydrocarbons. . expulsion. Each of these steps is quite distinct from the others. In order to understand the complex sequence of events that we call migration. This chapter wi11 not go into the physics and chemistry of migration in detail. Furthermore. and pressure release can be repeated. lowpermeability source rock into a carrier bed having much greater permeability. Secondary migration is the movement of oil and gas within this carrier bed. the microfractures heal. Based on empirical evidence. One occurs most commonly as a result of microfracturing induced by overpressuring during hydrocarbon generation. Laminated source rocks may therefore expel hydrocarbons with greater efficiency than massive rocks.Migration DEFINITIONS Migration is the movement of oil and gas within the subsurface. particularly along lines of weakness such as bedding planes. An important implication of the microfracturing model is that expulsion cannot take place until the strength of the source rock has been exceeded. Accumulation is the concentration of migrated hydrocarbons in a relatively immobile configuration. Traps are the means by which migration is stopped and accumulation occurs. microfracturing. it is probably most effective in immature rocks. Diffusion has been shown to be active on at least a minor scale and over short distances in carefully studied cores. 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.
Thus a source rock lying between two sands will expel hydrocarbons into both carrier beds. hydrocarbons will be expelled in any direction that offers a lower pressure than that in the source rock. Expulsion of hydrocarbons is facilitated because water-mineral and water-water interactions no longer need be overcome. Finally. oil-phase expulsion can take place when bitumen forms a continuous network that replaces water as the wetting agent in the source rock. we conclude that solution in gas is a minor mechanism for oil expulsion. expulsion can be lateral. but the mechanism by which overpressuring is achieved is not understood. . This expulsion process probably releases internal pressures in the rock. depending upon the carrier-bed characteristics of the surrounding rocks. requires that there be a separate gas phase. but a large proportion of NSO compounds and heavier hydrocarbons are left behind. upward. As soon as easier paths become available. The organic matter expelled consists mainly of lipids that were present in the sediment during deposition and diagenesis. unfractured source-rock units are relatively rare. the migrating fluids will take them. most of the hydrocarbons are expelled. By comparing the average hydrocarbon compositions of bitumen and crude oil. this early expulsion mechanism seems to be limited to rocks having very high original contents of lipids. Therefore the threshold must represent not only a hurdle to be cleared by the bitumen before it can leave the source rock. Thus primary migration ends whenever a permeable conduit for secondary migration is reached. also make excellent secondary-migration pathways.30 Once the threshold has been exceeded. Primary migration is difficult and slow. and assuming that expulsion of hydrocarbons is ten times as efficient as expulsion of NSO compounds. Primary migration is unquestionably the most difficult part of the entire migration process. Such a phase could only exist where the amount of gas far exceeds the amount of liquid hydrocarbons. particularly in brittle carbonate and opal-chert source rocks. because petroleum is being forced through rocks having low matrix permeabilities." We can only estimate the fraction of the bitumen left in the source rock during microfractureinduced expulsion. Of course. This type of expulsion is probably only operative in very rich source rocks during the main phase of oil generation. In most cases the distances of primary migration are probably between 10 centimetres and 100 m. where they do exist. In most cases hydrocarbons are generated within short distances of viable secondary-migration conduits. this approach is rather approximate. or downward. primary migration may be of poor efficiency. therefore. we can estimate that once the expulsion threshold is reached the expulsion efficiency for bitumen is about 50%. Because the source rock is overpressured. Therefore. Thus inefficiency of expulsion is responsible for much of the difference in composition of bitumen and petroleum that we noted earlier. A second way in which oil-phase expulsion can occur is from very organic-rich rocks prior to the onset of strong hydrocarbon generation. The third mechanism. Massive. Fracture and joint systems. it would be expected only in the late stages of catagenesis or in source rocks capable of generating mainly gas. but also an "exit tax. expulsion of oil dissolved in gas. Because the driving force for microfracture-induced primary migration is pressure release. but it does give some idea of the efficiency of expulsion. DISTANCE AND DIRECTION The distances traversed by hydrocarbons during primary migration are short.Migration . Because neither case is of great general significance for petroleum formation. Sand stringers within shale units can provide secondary migration conduits for hydrocarbons sourced in the shales.
Within massive sandstone.Migration . hydrocarbons entering the land from an underlying source rock will move toward the top of the sand even as they migrate laterally updip. Structural contours on the top of the carrier bed will . 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. In contrast. Hydrocarbons are almost all less dense than formation waters. hydrodynamic flow. These modifications to the overall scheme are probably minor. however. the globule will squeeze into the pore throat and continue moving upward. migration may have to proceed at an oblique angle to structural contours. then the rate of hydrocarbon transport will be retarded. Opposing the buoyancy is capillary-entry pressure. the globule must deform to squeeze into the pore. Hydrocarbons are thus capable of displacing water downward and moving upward themselves. secondary migration will occur both laterally and vertically. Buoyancy promotes migration. the more deformation is required. secondary migration will cease until either the capillary-entry pressure is reduced or the buoyant force is increased. but it is not essential and does not change our basic model. requiring only the existence of two forces. the globule cannot enter. if bulk water movement opposes the direction of buoyant movement. If water is flowing in the subsurface in the same direction as hydrocarbons are moving by buoyancy. and becomes stuck until either the buoyant force or the capillary entry pressure changes. The smaller the pore throat. we say that accumulation has occurred.31 SECONDARY MIGRATION MECHANISM Once hydrocarbons are expelled from the source rock in a separate hydrocarbon phase into a secondary-migration conduit. Retardatin of buoyant movement as an oil globule (X) is deformed to fit in to a narrow pore throat (Y). the force required to deform the oil globule enough to enter the pore throat. the pore throat is very tiny or if the buoyant force is small. Where faulting or facies changes create impassable barriers (capillary-entry pressure exceeds buoyant force). subsequent movement of the hydrocarbons will be driven by buoyancy. and therefore are more buoyant. This fact has important implications for tracing migration pathways through a thick conduit. which is resistance to entry of the hydrocarbon globule or stringer into pore throats. can modify hydrocarbon movement. Whenever a pore throat narrower than the globule is encountered. When hydrocarbons cease moving. That is. If the capillary-entry pressure exceeds the buoyant force. Thus movement within a confined migration conduit will be updip perpendicular to structural contours whenever possible. The upward buoyant force is partly or completely opposed by the capillary-entry pressure. Coalescence of globules of hydrocarbons after expulsion from the source rock therefore increases their ability to move upward through water-wet rocks. whereas capillary-entry pressure retards or stops it. DISTANCE AND DIRECTION Secondary migration occurs preferentially in the direction that offers the greatest buoyant advantage. then the rate of hydrocarbon movement should be enhanced somewhat. A third force-namely. This model is very simple. If. If the upward force of buoyancy is large enough.
although it should be remembered that there are two fundamentally different types of vertical migration. and the Saudi Arabian crude oils.Migration . Lateral migration is therefore often stymied. for example.32 in general be more useful than contours on its base. Unconformities also can juxtapose migration conduits. the heavy oils in the Orinoco Belt of Venezuela. 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). otherwise it is impossible to account for the incredible volumes of hydrocarbons in place today. Vertical migration distances can also be considerable. as a result of both tectonic disruption and facies changes related to tectonic events. Various mechanisms for exsolution were proposed to explain how all this was supposed to happen. Indeed. distances of several thousand feet are not unheard of. however. Migration updip within a single stratum can accomplish a large amount of "vertical" migration rather painlessly. the largest hydrocarbon deposits known. However. Faults may play an important role in vertical migration. Much more common. the process of hydrocarbon accumulation was somewhat mystical. 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. This model greatly simplifies the problem of accumulation. are basins in which lateral migration distances do not exceed a few tens of kilometers. Hydrocarbons had to remain in solution until they reached the trap. The absence of both tectonic and stratigraphic barriers permits long-distance migration. large drainage areas and chances for very large accumulations. Vertical migration can also occur across formations. by definition. Lack of long-distance migration opportunities implies that supergiant and giant accumulations are far less likely and that exploration targets will be smaller. Most basins. because now accumulation can occur where the buoyancy-driven movement of the hydrocarbon phase is stopped or even strongly impeded. however. Nevertheless. There is no a priori reason why secondary migration cannot be a very-long-distance phenomenon. all must have migrated long distances. including the Athabasca Tar Sands of western Canada. The question of long-distance migration has been much discussed and disputed. Drainage area is one of the most important factors influencing the size of hydrocarbon accumulations. Stacked sands in a paleodelta. Cap rocks having low . not only because they often juxtapose carrier beds from different stratigraphic horizons. are broken up tectonically and have poor lateral continuity of carrier beds. The problem in discussing long-distance migration is that such cases are rare. thus providing a potentially very effective system for combined vertical and lateral migration. It is possible to have lateral migrations of as much as a few hundred kilometers in exceptional circumstances. when migration was thought to occur mainly in water solution. leading to smaller fault-bounded accumulations and vertical migration. Today we believe that hydrocarbons migrate as a separate phase. Vertical migration across stratigraphic boundaries is more difficult. Long-distance migration implies. but also because an active fault or the brecciated zone adjacent to a fault may itself have high permeability. can offer possible pathways (although sometimes rather tortuous ones) for vertical migration. and has provided as carrier beds continuous blankets of sand juxtaposed with these source rocks. ACCUMULATION INTRODUCTION In the old days. at which time they suddenly became immiscible with the water and formed a separate hydrocarbon phase.
The simple principle behind a kinetic trap is that hydrocarbons are supplied to the trap faster than they can leak away. the low-permeability sands become filled with gas. . Accumulations are small because drainage areas are small. rocks whose capillary-entry pressures are high enough to overcome hydrocarbon buoyancy. that strong hydrocarbon generation and migration is going on today. Cross section across the Rhine Graben of West Germany showing the discontinuity of strata as a result of extensional tectonism endemic to rift basins. The low permeability sand thus creates a bottleneck to gas migration. a fractured shale that is both source and reservoir. The much smaller Antelope Field produces from the Mississippian Bakken Formation. The seal prevents vertical migration from the reservoir rock into overlying strata. 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. Gas production is actually from the low-permeability sand rather than from the high-permeability sand updip and downdip. and vertical migration becomes important. CLASSICAL TRAPS.33 permeabilities to hydrocarbons provide barriers to migration: that is. Classical traps are well understood. Most hydrocarbon traps are either structural or stratigraphic. Because the high permeability sand updip allows gas to migrate rapidly through. KINETIC TRAPS Kinetic traps represent a fundamentally new concept in trapping mechanisms for hydrocarbons. Because gas generation is very rapid. The Elmworth Field in the Alberta Deep Basin of Canada is the prototype for kinetic gas accumulations. while the structure or lithologic change prevents lateral updip migration. Fracturing associated with high races of oil generation in the Green River Shale has created a supergiant accumulation at Altamont. of course. This model requires. and will be covered separately. 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. it remains water wet. Thus the Elmworth Field exhibits a water-over-gas contact. Lateral migration is of necessity short distance. No traditional seal exists. Much of the hydrocarbon storage at Antelope is apparently in silts and sands juxtaposed with the producible Bakken reservoir. Seals in the traditional sense of the word may not exist.Migration .
because much of the methane trapped is biogenic and was formed in young. 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. and thus are not expelled as efficiently with the oil phase. Because hydrate zones are often hundreds of meters thick. but it may also include some heavier hydrocarbons dissolved in the gas. but hydrates large enough to accommodate butane molecules are known. the quantities of gas in such accumulations are huge. Once expulsion has occurred. At the present time the vast potential of gas-hydrate accumulations is just beginning to be recognized. and the poor producibilitv of the hydrocarbons they trap. These gas hydrates consist of a rigid lattice of water molecules that form a cage within which a single molecule of gas is trapped. Accumulations beneath tar-mat seals are generally biodegraded themselves. Formation of hydrates thus provides an important trapping mechanism. but in the future gas-hydrate accumulations may be of great economic significance. these changes in temperature and pressure can cause separation of the original phase into a liquid phase and a gas phase.Migration . Despite the rarity of tar-mat seals. Methane is by far the most commonly trapped gas molecule. tar mats may provide the only possible means for retaining any hydrocarbons. TAR-MAT TRAPS Tar mats produced by biodegradation can create excellent seals. As soon as two immiscible phases are formed. and would be incapable of sealing accumulations for long geologic periods. The gas phase will. 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. The polar molecules once again interact most strongly with interstitial water and mineral surfaces. The polar (NSO) compounds interact most strongly with both mineral surfaces and water molecules. A second characteristic is that gas hydrates form effective seals against vertical hydrocarbon migration. When the original hydrocarbon phase contains large amounts of light components. In cases where no other structural or stratigraphic trapping mechanism exists. Cap-rocks in those fields are often poor. One important feature of methane hydrates is that they are much more efficient at storing methane than is liquid pore water. however. large accumulations have formed despite high rates of leakage. 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 the same conditions that created the tar mat persist in the subsurface. GAS HYDRATES Formation of crystalline hydrates of natural gas provides an extremely efficient trapping mechanism for natural gas. there may be a chromatographic effect during secondary migration. especially methane. The base of the gas hydrate zone forms a pronounced seismic reflector that often simulates bottom contours and cuts across bedding planes. The technology necessary for producing these hydrocarbons has not yet been developed. contain mainly light components. and thus get left behind as the oil globule or stringer moves upward. and in zones of permafrost. unconsolidated sediments that would have no other means of retaining the methane. Phase changes occur as a result of decreases in pressure and temperature during migration.34 Many of the accumulations in Pliocene reservoirs in southern California are also kinetic accumulations in a slightly different sense. Because intense oil generation is going on now. It will therefore migrate much faster and .
vertical faulting. gas is presumably expelled as a gas phase. as we have seen. Polar compounds interact more strongly with water and rock minerals and thus move more slowly than hydrocarbons. are determined by structural contours on the top of the carrier beds. Thus if we can determine the timing of generation.35 will also assume the structurally high position in any reservoirs containing both phases. and the vertical and horizontal distances involved. When separation of a single hydrocarbon phase into two phases occurs. we want to determine the main pathways and conduite through which migration occurs. and expulsion occurs concurrently with generation to relieve generation-induced overpressuring. 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. In summary. both new phases will have compositions that differ drastically from the original phase. Vertical-migration distances can be considerable. In using our understanding of secondary migration for exploration. Efficiency of expulsion of liquids has already been estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 50% after the expulsion threshold has been reached. Lateralmigration distances are strongly influenced by tectonic and depositional histories of basins. Barriers can be created by folding. the barriers that modify die direction of migration and eventually stop it. by faulting. Efficiency of expulsion for hydrocarbons is apparently much higher than for NSO compounds. and the timing of expulsion. We already know two important facts about timing from our previous discussion: expulsion based on microfracturing cannot occur before generation. the efficiency of expulsion. Proximity to effective source rocks and their permeabilities to hydrocarbons determine conduits. leading to an enrichment of hydrocarbons in the expelled liquid. and the possibilities of combined vertical and lateral migration. . We need to know when hydrocarbons moved. "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). Unstable basins seldom have depositional or tectonic continuities necessary for longdistance lateral migration to occur. Pathways. as explorationists we have very pragmatic interests in migration. SIGNIFICANCE FOR EXPLORATION Explorationists who are reading about migration will surely ask. We have already stated that oil is expelled primarily as a liquid phase. Tectonically stable basins have the best potential for long-distance migration and supergiant accumulations. and how far they moved. depending upon stacking of reservoirs. Timing of expulsion must be dealt with in a different way.Migration . in what direction they moved. we will also have determined the timing of expulsion. or by the presence of tars. by decreases in permeability as a result of facies changes.
Petroleum Traps . The top of a reservoir formation. This may be caused either by the reservoir itself dying out or by an interruption of its upwards continuity to the surface. they should properly be drawn with the same scale for both the vertical and the horizontal. except that the contours are in depth below sealevel.36 7 .Petroleum Traps We have seen petroleum generated in and expelled from the source rock formation into an overlying or underlying reservoir. the ticks are on the downthrown sides of the faults. where it is lost. it will escape to surface as a seepage. 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). 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. If it can. before we reached our modern understanding of the geology of petroleum. Faults will be marked by jumps of the contours. THE REPRESENTATION OF TRAPS Traps are commonly depicted in two ways. they can be mapped by means of contours drawn on the top of the reservoir formation. which may refer either to its depth or to the spot under the ground where it lies. The lowest point. and furthermore we can map out the extent and shape of the trap with a good deal of precision-thanks mostly to modern seismic techniques. The highest point of the reservoir. These are illustrated using a simple anticline as an example. up towards the ground surface. Nowadays we can do better. is known as the crest of the trap. but there must also be some sort of blockage to prevent further migration. so that the highest points on the map have the lowest values. To give a true representation. First. and hoping for the best. To complement the structure contour map. Indeed. but it is often convenient to exaggerate the vertical to show the individual beds more clearly. by displacing the water already there in the porosity. Any oil getting there will be unable to migrate further and so it starts to accumulate. Such a configuration of the reservoir is known as a trap. A structure contour map resembles an ordinary topographic contour map. is mapped by contours showing depth below sealevel. The contours are in feet below mean sea-level. If then we are to find any of it still preserved. one or more cross-sections may be drawn. we need a few definitions. Note that we commonly highlight petroleum accumulations by shading or colouring the reservoir formations where they contain oil or gas. 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. as the beds on one side are dropped down relative to the other. drilling a well into it. (a) A simple hypothetical anticline. exploration used to consist largely of finding a trap. if more continues to migrate up into the trap than can be .(2-18) Before we go further.
However. STRUCTURAL TRAPS The best known type of trap is the anticline: on reaching the crest. A single accumulation of oil or gas is called a pool. will spill out (under) and migrate on. The vertical height of the oil (or gas) between the crest of the trap and the water contact is the oil.37 accommodated. 4. Just a couple more terms. Now we can start to consider the types of trap whose discovery may await us. 3. then we may see a gas-water contact. that most reservoir formations include some tight intervals. and the same term is used loosely to refer to the area of the trap above the level of the spill-point. either by folding or faulting. Hydrodynamic traps. where the trap has been produced by deformation of the beds after they were deposited. 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. the only structural effect being a tilt to allow the oil to migrate through the reservoir.(or gas-) column.e. Similarly gas. The vertical height between the spill-point and the crest is referred to as the closure. they are embraced by the familiar terms oilfield or gasfield. Let us remember. there are various types of . When referring to a single well. The trap is due to water flowing through the reservoir and holding the oil in places where it would not otherwise be trapped. petroleum migrating up along a reservoir can go no further and it accumulates there as a pool. however. the informal term pay is often used. Structural. Some terms used to define a trap. formed partly by structural and partly by stratigraphic effects. which have porosities and permeabilities too low for them to contribute oil to production. Combination traps.Petroleum Traps . so that we can recognize a generally horizontal oil-water contact. which are rare and are mentioned mainly for completeness. or in their layering. i. being lighter still. but not entirely due to either. If there is no oil. in which the trap is formed by changes in the nature of the rocks themselves. 2. Oil being lighter than water. Stratigraphic. 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. perhaps if more than one reservoir is present. using a cross-section of a simple anticline as example (2-19). will occur as a gas cap above a gas-oil contact. They are normally classified under four headings (2-21): 1.
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. We will describe in a little detail the most important types of anticline. so that the beds maintain a constant thickness throughout. Compressive structures have a range of shapes between the purely concentric or parallel anticline and the similar fold. These conditions mean that the anticline becomes smaller and tighter at deeper levels until we reach a common `centre of curvature'. maintains its shape constant down to depth. This leads us into the next problem. with one flank steeper than the other.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. Traps can also be formed against faults if a chopped-off reservoir is thrown against a shale or other impervious rock. and we may be able to continue exploration down to depths where we have to stop for other reasons. we can find the trap present at all levels down to the basement. To test the crest at depth.(2-22) In the concentric fold the tops and bottoms of all the layers remain strictly parallel to each other. so that the beds become intensely crushed and thrust together: we may no longer even have an anticline at all. (a) The dips are the same on both flanks and the crest is beneath the same locality at all depths. 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 similar anticline. therefore in order to drill into a reservoir near its highest point (where we would expect the oil to be). a well would have to be located off-crest at surface. Anticlines. In this case. Below this point we have just too much rock to fit into the anticline. then the position of the crest will shift with increasing depth. This is a very different kettle of fish from the concentric anticline. If. . These compressive structures pose one problem right from the start. many structures have forms in-between the two extremes. depending on the nature and strength of the rock layers being folded. in cross-section. noting the differences in shape and prospectivity that we have to try to interpret.Petroleum Traps . In practice. This can only happen if there is an apparent thickening of some beds over the crest of the fold. the anticline is asymmetrical. (b) The anticline is asymmetrical and the crest shifts with increasing depth. Cross-sections of trap-forming anticlines. we can thus expect to find only smaller and smaller accumulations of petroleum down to the centre of curvature. Seismic may help. but an understanding of the shape and size of a prospect is clearly critical to programming an exploration well. There is a definite limit to the depths to which we should drill. but we commonly have to undertake some form of geometrical construction to interpret what is happening at depth. and we may no longer be able to see where the bottle is. and the blanket bulges upwards with an anticlinal shape. Cover it with a few more blankets and a duvet or two. beyond which there may be no trap left to explore as the consequence of decoupling of layers. The general principles of this are straightforward. Let us see what the implications are for exploration. we have to know its depth to know where best to locate the well.
showing the variety of traps that may be associated with them.39 A drape-compaction anticline. being plastic. bending downwards into the hole. In case anyone should think that this is unimportant. however. 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. which contains more than four times as much oil as the whole of the North Sea put together. it is not always easy to separate out the two effects. it may extend up to the surface of the ground or only part way if the supply of salt is limited. Nature. note that the largest oilfield in the world. and finally a residual bulge may be left between two nearby plugs: a turtle or turtle-back structure. Diagrammatic section through two salt plugs. A second effect comes into play here: because there is a greater thickness of beds off the structure than over the top. can be a perfect seal to any underlying accumulations. 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. Another is the Forties field in the North Sea. then they will blanket the hill as an anticline. it may bend up and seal off the strata it cuts through. and hence the combined name. This compaction enhances the anticline formed by the drape. All of these possible traps may contain hydrocarbons. the beds being draped over an upfaulted block (horst) of basement rocks.Petroleum Traps . much of the west coast and continental shelf of Africa. Ghawar in Saudi Arabia. This occurs alongside a normal fault that is curved. Not only may an anticline be pushed up over the plug. a salt pillow or a salt dome.(2-25) Similarly. Note that the anticline dies out upwards towards the surface. it is also liable to fracture the overlying and surrounding beds creating fault traps. In effect the downthrown side is being pulled away from the upthrown side which would tend to create an open fissure along the fault. or over an upfaulted block or horst. does not like empty holes. so that it is steep near the surface and flattens with depth. is in one such trap. the Canadian Arctic Islands. Note a characteristic of these anticlines: not only do they `grow' with depth. Note also that salt. and several others.(2-26) A wide variety of traps can be associated with salt plugs. This creates a rollover anticline. The last type of anticline that we should be aware of is the roll-over anticline. but also . the Middle East. where the beds are draped over the eroded stumps of an old Jurassic volcano. The effect of salt diapirism will be initially to bulge up the overlying sediments as an anticline. the Gulf Coast of the USA. higher beds will gradually mute and suppress the structure until it is no longer present at shallow levels. and the beds on the downthrown side above the curving fault collapse to fill the gap. Extensive salt deposits and plugs with associated traps occur in many parts of the world: the southern North Sea and northern Germany.
thus causing sand against sand to permit migration and sand against shale to be sealing. Tertiary. (B) a roll-over complicated by subsidiary faulting near the crest. Fault traps We indicated above that a trap may be formed where a dipping reservoir is cut off up-dip by a fault. as at Wytch Farm. Occasionally indeed. (2-28) We do not propose to discuss fault traps in detail. we still do not fully understand what the difference is due to. It adds further uncertainties to our predictions of the subsurface occurrence of oil and gas. Middle Jurassic. setting it against something impermeable. trapped against faults to the south. or slumping as a sort of land-slide. in both cases. UK. or by opposing dips. and how big it is. Kim+P. or have acted in the past. and it will depend on the amount of displacement on the fault. Much of the oil under the Niger and Mississippi Deltas is in such roll-over anticlines. Lower Jurassic. . It also depends on whether the fault itself is sealing or non-sealing. Lower Cretaceous. whether the fault is normal or reverse. the position of the crest is displaced with depth and that accumulations in successive reservoirs will not underlie the same surface position. The proviso is that we also have lateral closure: this may be provided by further faulting. a fault can provide a seal. Whether or not there is a trap. T. Upper Cretaceous. Note that. All very puzzling! Although attempts have been made to investigate the problem in Nigeria and elsewhere.Petroleum Traps . The large Wytch Farm oilfield of southern England offers a splendid example. Again. but we also know that sometimes faults are pathways for migrating petroleum and non-sealing at all. and in understanding them. will depend on the dip of the reservoir as compared with that of the fault. Cross-section through the Wytch Farm oilfield. The sealing capacity of faults is a major difficulty confronting us.40 they are asymmetrical. L. Tr. down towards the deep ocean. and naturally we have some ideas on the subject. southern England. therefore. Roll-over anticlines: (A) a simple roll-over into a normal fault. and its depth. We know that sometimes. W. whether or not the reservoir is completely or only partially offset. Upper Jurassic. these predated the deposition of the Upper Cretaceous. The oil is in two reservoirs. (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. BS+MJ+O. it seems that one and the same fault may act.. Triassic. we have to know whereabouts in the succession our prospective reservoir lies. 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. in both ways. to locate an exploration well in the right place. at deeper levels the crest will shift away from the position of the fault at surface.
Petroleum Traps . will spread out as a fan over the ocean floor. its edges will provide an example of a reservoir dying out laterally. are formed by unconformities. on the direction of dip of the beds relative to the fault plane. In fact. claystone. may serve as an isolated stratigraphic trap. We would be left with a sandstone reservoir dying out above the unconformity. We mention just three examples. cut across by erosion and later covered above the unconformity by impermeable sediments. A dipping reservoir. thus preventing further migration. depending on whether the fault is normal or reverse. strongly weathered basement rock (granites. the beach sands will spread progressively over the land surface.(2-29) STRATIGRAPHIC TRAPS Petroleum may be trapped where the reservoir itself is cut off up-dip. we have an isolated trapping situation. to a large extent reflecting the restricted environments in which the reservoir rocks were deposited. More esoterically. In this manner. is the biggest in the USA outside Alaska. if drowned by shales. however. First. Consider the sea gradually encroaching over the land as sea level rises. the porosity could be preserved beneath the unconformity. provides the classic case: the East Texas field. to provide a trap when later covered with. becoming younger as time goes on. Unconformity traps can also be found above the break. until perhaps the supply of sand runs out. but nevertheless known. for example. A lot of oil has been found in recent years in this sort of trap in the North Sea. fan sands provide one of the prime present-day exploration . a hill on the old land surface may be formed of permeable rock. and on the amount of displacement of the reservoir. so we will mention a few to convey the general idea. gneisses) under an unconformity serve as reservoirs in China and North Africa. It would be pointless to list all of the possible types of stratigraphic trap that can exist.41 Six trapping and two non-trapping configurations against a fault. say. but are generally classified as stratigraphic traps. they differ somewhat in principle from the others. A sand deposited in a river channel will be confined by the banks and. if terminated updip as not infrequently happens. let us note that a number of traps. some of them very important. It is presumed that petroleum cannot escape up the fault plane. The variety in size and shape of such traps is enormous. and leave the reader to speculate on other possibilities. possibly through a submarine canyon. A coral reef overwhelmed by muds. A flood of sand washed off the shallow continental shelf into the deeper ocean. Non-unconformity traps are even more diverse. no structural control is needed.
The oil in these fields can only have migrated there after the traps were sealed by the higher sequences. The reservoir beds were folded into an anticline. The oil is held in the reservoirs by younger shales overlying the erosion surface (Fig. has most of its oil and gas trapped in a Carboniferous to Jurassic sequence which includes more than one reservoir. A block representation of the trap at the Prudhoe Bay field in northern Alaska. Both the faulting and the unconformity control the traps. The Prudhoe Bay field in northern Alaska. A couple of examples may give the idea. neither completely controls the trap.(230) COMBINATION TRAPS A number of fields. Again the range of possibilities is almost infinite. that the trap must be shown to have been there before the oil migrated.42 targets. it is presumed that the fault is non-sealing. as the fault moved. where the reservoirs overlie overpressured shales. Where a reservoir is full to spillpoint against a fault. tilted westwards. and where an oil-water contact is continuous across a fault. which were eroded and unconformably overlain by Cretaceous shales. As the more easily found structural traps are running out in much of the world. We may note here one most important consideration. or the oil would have been lost. which was tilted west and eroded before deposition of the overlying beds now dipping east. and truncated by erosion. occur in traps formed by a combination of structural and stratigraphic circumstances. This vital factor.(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.).Petroleum Traps . these beds were folded into a faulted east-west anticline. some of them large. where there is enough of it in the section. there always seems to be something new as a challenge. although such prospects are not easy to locate and may require a lot of sophisticated seismic. The difference is believed to be due to clay being smeared into the fault plane. the biggest field in the USA. This combination trap is partly structural (the anticline) and partly stratigraphic (beneath the unconformity). An investigation into the sealing qualities of faults affecting roll-over anticlines in the Niger Delta. possibly even before it . elsewhere it appears to form a trap.
is that in most parts of the world the larger anticlines have now been drilled. therefore. The timing of trap formation versus oil migration has not always worked out favorably. It is therefore always important to get a handle on the hydrodynamic regime in a reservoir for both exploration and oilfield development purposes. are the more obscure and generally smaller prospects. cases are known where flowing water has apparently been able totally to flush oil out of an anticlinal trap. but the oil reserves they contain show clearly that generally they are also bigger. This is what has been described as a hydrodynamic trap. Furthermore. is held against an unevenness of its upper surface by water flowing in the opposite direction. and the oil will be free to move again. It is totally dependent on the flow of water and is effective. a regime of water flow cannot normally be expected to remain constant for long. traps in both number and size. in say ordinary anticlinal traps. This may be one of the reasons why oil accumulations trapped hydrodynamically are rare. essentially anticlinal. from our present-day point of view. entering a reservoir formation. The number of structural field of this size may partly reflect the fact that structural traps are easier to find than the others. Oil. attempting to escape to surface up a reservoir. There is no structural or stratigraphic closure. In this sort of situation. geologically speaking. Such tilted contacts. is yet another aspect of the petroleum geology that we have to assess in proposing exploration drilling. they are known in a number of parts of the world. . HYDRODYNAMIC TRAPS Imagine surface water. Note that the oil-water contact is tilted down in the direction of water flow. The oil-water contact in such a hydrodynamic trap is normally tilted in the direction of water flow. or aquifer. it may find itself caught against an unevenness of the reservoir surface where there is no conventional trap at all. Depending on the balance of forces acting on the oil.(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. Oil has found its way into the reservoir and is battling to migrate upwards to the surface against the flow of water. perhaps from rain. We would recognize this from residual traces of oil in a water-bearing reservoir. The trouble. indicating the former presence of an oil accumulation now lost.Petroleum Traps . as we do not want to waste the money drilling wells that would miss the oil altogether. up in the hills and percolating downwards towards a spring.43 was generated. only for as long as the water keeps coming: dry up the supply of water. we would have to be careful where we locate and drill our oil production wells. of course. What our efforts are increasingly directed towards. A hydrodynamic trap. are not all that rare.
Petroleum Traps . Interpret the geological relationships shown in each by drawing a structural cross-section through the logs.Make the interpretations from easy (A) to more difficult.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. . multi-interpretable (D).
N.Petroleum Traps . showing the interval from top of Onondaga to bottom of Oriskany. Elevations and marked logs are provided for 6 wells in the Wyckoff Field.46 EXERCISE PetroleumTraps 2 The Wyckoff Gas Field. located in Steuben County. The Onondaga forms a thick biohermal reef over part of the field. Wyckoff Reef Gas Field WellElevation CORNELL DIBBLE GUILD CHASE BANKS RICHARDS 2257' 2098' 2037' 2206' 2182' 2066' . 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..Y. produces from Onondaga Limestone and/or Oriskany Sandstone. Oriskany production is from a small anticline on the upthrown side of the fault. Only the porous core facies is productive in the reef section (see map on next page).
Petroleum Traps .47 .
Petroleum Traps .48 .
The term "effective source rock" obviously encompasses a wide range of generative histories from earliest maturity to overmaturity. Analysis normally requires about one gram of rock. is it because the rock never had a high initial 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. When we analyze a rock sample in the laboratory. For example. is most meaningful if we can compare it to the rock's original source capacity. Possible source rock: any sedimentary rock whose source potential has not yet been evaluated. Although the term source rock is frequently used generically to describe fine-grained sedimentary rocks. the Phosphoria Formation of Wyoming and Idaho belongs to each of these classifications in different areas.Source-Rock Evaluation DEFINITION OF SOURCE ROCK Much of modern petroleum geochemistry depends upon accurate assessment of the hydrocarbonsource capabilities of sedimentary rocks.49 8 . the remaining source capacity and not the original capacity (Go). overmature. it is also necessary to know what level of thermal maturity is represented by that particular G value. the following distinctions can be made: Effective source rock: any sedimentary rock that has already generated and expelled hydrocarbons. 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. It follows from these definitions that a particular stratum could be an effective source rock in one place. quick. where G and Go are identical. a possible source rock in a nearby unstudied region. in which case virtually all the initial . a potential source rock in a less-mature area. 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. instead it must be estimated by measuring G for a similar sample that is still immature. much smaller amounts can be analyzed. but if the rocks contain abundant organic matter.. MATURITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL Knowing a rock's remaining source capacity G solves only one part of the puzzle. if G is very low. that usage is a bit too broad and loose. Go can only be measured directly for immature source rocks. which we can call G.e. or is it because the rock is "burned out" (i. For example. This simple. The difference between Go and G represents the hydrocarbons already generated in the effective source rock.Source Rock Evaluation . we actually measure its remaining (or untapped) source capacity at the present day. The quantity actually measured in the laboratory is always G. and inexpensive analysis serves as the first and most important screening technique in source-rock analysis. but which may have generated and expelled hydrocarbons. we cannot measure G directly for a sample that has already begun to generate hydrocarbons. This quantity. Go. However. For better communication.
the plot is a straight line. The ideal histogram of reflectance values is therefore rather rare. The most commonly used maturity parameters today are spore color (Thermal Alteration Index. In order to minimize differences in color caused by changes in the type or thickness of the kerogen particles. misidentification of macerals can cause problems. In other rocks. leading to frequent difficulties in establishing which vitrinite population is indigenous. Despite its weaknesses. Because each maceral type increases in reflectance in a slightly different way as thermal stress increases. in which the vitrinite maceral is usually very common. TAI values are estimated. TAI measurements are made on the same slides prepared for microscopic kerogen-type analysis. If no pollen can be found. vitrinite reflectance. where the o indicates that the measurements were made with the plug immersed in oil. The method is based on the fact that with increasing thermal stress. Vitrinite-reflectance measurements begin by isolating the kerogen with HCl and HF. Less commonly used are fluorescence and conodont color (CAI). its maturity is not related to that of the rock in which it is found. vitrinite reflectance is the most popular technique today for estimating kerogen maturity. The fraction of the incident beam that is reflected coherently is measured and recorded and stored automatically on a computer. in some cases it is essential. At the end of the analysis a histogram of the collected data is printed. the microscopist shines light on an individual vitrinite particle. of course. A few of these parameters will briefly be discussed. A substantial number of techniques for measuring or estimating kerogen maturity have been developed over the years. In all cases it is worthwhile to supplement vitrinite with other measures of maturity. The darkening of kerogen particles with increasing thermal maturity can be used as an indicator of maturity. and none can be applied in all cases. Reworked vitrinite is. very different. There are many problems with vitrinite reflectance as applied to kerogens. and then embedding the kerogen particles in an epoxy plug. In many rocks vitrinite is rare or absent. Vitrinite-reflectance techniques were developed for measuring the rank of coals. in fact. Thermal Alteration Index (TAI). however. TAI measurements are carried out on bisaccate pollen grains whenever possible. between 50 and 100 measurements will be taken. even for experienced workers. Because what is present is often reworked. Vitrinite reflectance (Ro). The feeling of most workers today is that there is no single maturity indicator that tells the whole story unerringly all the rime. far more common in shales than in coals. the reflectance value of vitrinite increases. In many areas it is easy to use and valuable. 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.Source Rock Evaluation . If enough vitrinite particles can be found. Results are reported as Ro values. along with a statistical analysis of the data. All the methods have strengths and weaknesses. . All the techniques discussed are useful and probably reasonably accurate if the analytical work is carefully done.50 hydrocarbon-source capacity has already been used up)? The exploration implications of these two scenarios are. After the plug is polished. in obtaining more than one maturity parameter. If a log scale is used for the reflectance. paucity of first-cycle vitrinite renders vitrinite-reflectance measurements essentially worthless. Reflectance values are normally plotted versus depth in a well. and pyrolysis temperature. or TAI). with lower confidence. Other macerals or solidified bitumens can often be misidentified as vitrinite. unless surrounding samples help us determine the indigenous vitrinite population. Such histograms are quite often difficult or impossible to interpret. whenever possible. from amorphous kerogen. The key to using maturity parameters effectively lies in evaluating the measured data carefully (and sometimes with skepticism) and.
The chief problems arise with inexperienced workers. most commonly from fossiliferous carbonates.Source Rock Evaluation . leading to an inaccurate assessment of kerogen maturity. A careful worker can reproduce earlier work with excellent precision. with the help of color charts can be carried out by inexperienced personnel. or most commonly. where most of the interest is. which can vary greatly in its chemical and physical properties. Finally. they offer a means of measuring maturity in rocks that do not contain pollen grains or vitrinite. CAI is only an indirect indicator of hydrocarbon maturity. by removing the mineral matrix with acetic or formic acid. Conodonts are isolated. Carbon Preference Index (CPI). where pollen and vitrinite are often absent. Thirdly. thus defusing to a large degree the criticism that TAI is too subjective to be valid. Conodont Alteration Index (CAI). and thus are of no value in many areas. TAI values estimated from amorphous material are always suspect and should be corroborated by other analyses. Colors of the specimens thus obtained are determined under a binocular microscope and compared with standards. Early investigations showed that immature rocks often had high CPI . changes in conodont color are apparently due to carbonization of inclusions of small amounts of organic matter during catagenesis and metagenesis. TAI measurements are therefore often quite accurate and correlate very well with results from other techniques.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. Furthermore. Finally. The technique is simple and quick and can be done even by inexperienced workers. conodonts are plentiful in carbonate rocks. lack of proper standardization. Although conodonts are composed of carbonate apatite. the CAI scale is most sensitive at levels of maturity much higher than can be measured by TAI. and thus helps expand the range over which maturities can be measured. One disadvantage of CAI measurements is that CAI values can be dramatically increased in the presence of hot brines. TAI values must be estimated from amorphous debris. the absence of spores and pollen in the samples. The first maturity indicator applied to sediments was the Carbon Preference Index. Conodonts do not occur in rocks younger than the Triassic. When palynomorphs are absent. Although TAI determinations are subjective. use of careful standards and the same type of palynomorph in each analysis greatly aid reproducibility. One advantage of CAI over other maturity parameters is that because conodonts existed as early as the Cambrian. because the organic metamorphism displayed by conodonts is not related to hydrocarbon generation or destruction. CAI is inexpensive and easy to measure and. Conodonts are not very sensitive indicators of maturity within the oil generation window. Other disadvantages overlap with some of the advantages.
As a result. palynological analysis can usually detect the presence of lignosulfonates because of the unique pollen assemblages present in the lignite. they can usually be identified with reasonable confidence. In particular. Without additional information. Like pyrolysis. Hydrocarbon contamination is rare except in the immediate vicinity of production or where vehicles are used. Fortunately. and lignite from lignosulfonates. and can be removed prior to beginning the analytical sequence. in the last decade kerogen analyses have replaced bitumen analyses as the routine procedure in source-rock evaluation. where the fluorescence that enables us to distinguish between oil-prone and non-oil-prone disappears toward the end of the oil-generation window. diesel fuel affects both kerogen and bitumen. It breaks down at high maturity levels. because of their friability. The exception to this rule is with amorphous material. TOC values will be raised and vitrinite-reflectance values lowered by the presence of adsorbed diesel. Drilling-fluid additives have been a severe headache for petroleum geochemists for a long time. therefore. This discovery led to the use of CPI as an indicator of maturity. of course. ESTIMATION OF ORIGINAL SOURCE CAPACITY Of the three major methods of determining kerogen type. Caving is not a problem for conventional or sidewall cores. Atomic H/C ratios must therefore be corrected for the effects of . only microscopic analysis is relatively unaffected by maturity.5%. strongly affected by maturity. however.2.5).52 values (> 1. whereas those of oils were almost always below 1. In many cases. but it can be devastating in cuttings samples. Pyrolysis yields are. have low CPI values even when immature. of course. rocks deposited in pelagic environments. in which the input of terrestrial lipids was very limited. 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. Well Samples . Contaminants of particular notoriety are diesel fuel. Mold or other surface growth may also be present. and therefore should be easy to avoid. In contrast to solid additives. vitrinite reflectance measurements offer the best means of recognizing caving. it can lead to an overly optimistic assessment of the organic richness of the section. 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. atomic H/C ratios measure the present day status of the kerogen rather than its original chemical composition.The main causes of contamination among samples obtained from wells are caving and adulteration by drilling-fluid additives. It is capable of impregnating sidewall and conventional cores as well as cuttings. however. In such cases TOC values will be raised and reflectance histograms will show a large population near 0. it is impossible to determine which maturation path brought it to that point. 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. Furthermore.Source Rock Evaluation . Problems with living organic matter are easily avoided by physically removing tiny plant roots and other recognizable debris. Caving is a particular problem for coals. walnut hulls and other solid debris. Walnut hulls and other organic debris are also easy to detect microscopically. because all kerogens have low pyrolysis yields. Careful picking of lithologies and comparison with up-hole samples can often recognize caved materials. which affect only the kerogen portion of the sample. This method works fairly well if the kerogen is still within the oil-generation window. As long as kerogen particles are not completely black. fewer CPI determinations are made now.
53 maturation by using a van Krevelen diagram. exinite. Gas-generative kerogen is mainly vitrinite. TYPE OF ORGANIC MATTER Microscopic kerogen-type analysis describes the proportions of the various macerals present in a sample. but they may expel small quantities of hydrocarbons and thus should not be discounted completely. S2. The oil-generative macerals are those of Type I and Type II kerogens: alginite.5% TOC are considered to have negligible hydrocarbon-source potential. because the type of kerogen preserved in rich rocks is often more oil-prone than in lean rocks. have little oil-source potential. the kerogen in such lean rocks is almost always highly oxidized and thus of low source potential. Kerogens in rocks containing less than 1% TOC are generally oxidized.0% TOC are marginal. the actual volume percent occupied by the organic material is about twice the TOC percentage. and inert.5% TOC. and thus of limited source potential. Rocks containing between 0. yielding . As such these quantities are a measure of the total capacity of a rock to release or generate hydrocarbons or carbon dioxide. resinite. gas-generative. Those rocks containing less than 0. Many rocks with high TOC values. In interpreting these observations we normally divide these macerals into oil-generative. which ones might be of slight interest (TOC between 0. the direct evidence for such a statement is rather meager. where preservation of lipid-rich organic matter with source potential for oil can occur. because the kerogens they contain are woody or highly oxidized.0%).Source Rock Evaluation . and S3) are expressed in milligrams of hydrocarbon or carbon dioxide per gram of rock sample. Rocks containing more than 1% TOC often have substantial source potential. Raw data (S1. We therefore use TOC values as screens to indicate which rocks are of no interest to us (TOC < 0. Nevertheless. A rock containing 3% TOC is likely to have much more than six times as much source capacity as a rock containing 0. etc.0%). on the basis of deductive reasoning. They will not function as highly effective source rocks. however. Because the density of organic matter is about one-half that of clays and carbonates.5% and 1. These immature H/C ratios can then be used to calculate Go. has dissented from this pessimistic view. 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. Furthermore. In some rocks TOC values between 1% and 2% are associated with depositional environments intermediate between oxidizing and reducing. fluorescing amorphous kerogen. We must still determine whether the kerogen present is in fact of good hydrocarbon-source quality. TOC values above 2% often indicate highly reducing environments with excellent source potential. Thus high TOC values are a necessary but not sufficient criterion for good source rocks.5% and 1. The amount of hydrocarbons generated in such rocks is so small that expulsion simply cannot occur. Smyth (1983). cutinite. These raw data are then normalized for the organic-carbon content of the sample. that at least some Australian inertinites can generate significant amounts of oil. claiming. Pyrolysis results are normally reported in two ways. Inertinite is considered by most workers to have no hydrocarbon-source capacity. however.5%). Interpretation of TOC values therefore does not simply focus on the quantity of organic matter present. and which are definitely worthy of further consideration (TOC > 1.
and the end of liquid-hydrocarbon generation is thought to be at about 1. Age of coals is important. but there are still some minor variations from one laboratory to another. either from terrestrial macerals (cutinite. . a unified scale for comparing them with Ro values has not been adopted. 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. Nevertheless. They have excellent potential to generate liquid hydrocarbons.54 values in milligrams per gram of TOC. Kerogens with hydrogen indices above 600 usually consist of nearly pure Type I or Type II kerogens. Kerogens with hydrogen indices above about 300 contain substantial amounts of Type II macerals. The ultimate limit of oil stability is not known for certain. The correlations among maturity parameters have been fairly well established. Hydrogen indices above 150 reflect increasing amounts of lipid-rich material. 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. However.5% Ro. Thus. The limits of the oil generation window vary considerably depending upon the type of organic matter being transformed. Some laboratories put the onset of maturity at 435° C. make sure that you have a copy of their equivalency between TAI and Ro. Peak generation is reached near 0. most other maturation parameters are related to Ro values. less common application is to decide whether oil will be stable in a given reservoir.9% Ro. Interpretation of hydrogen indices for immature kerogens is straightforward.35% Ro. Although Tmax values are determined objectively. A second. It is particularly difficult to generalize about TAI values because the numerical values of TAI scales have not been standardized among laboratories. Because some Cenozoic land plants are richer in resins and waxes than Paleozoic plants. Those between 150 and 300 contain more Type III kerogen than Type II and therefore have marginal to fair potential for liquids. Determination of the oil-generation window in a particular section is the objective of most maturity analyses performed on possible source rocks. and thus are considered to have good source potential for liquid hydrocarbons. The normalized S2 and S3 values are called the hydrogen index and the oxygen index. some Cenozoic coals should have better potential for generating liquid hydrocarbons. resinite. if you are using TAI determinations determined by an analytical laboratory. Conodont Alteration Index (CAI) values ranging from 1 to 5 were tied loosely to vitrinite reflectance and fixed carbon content of coals. the hydrogen index serves as an indicator of kerogen type. respectively. but in most cases is probably not much above 1. exinite) or from marine algal material. this generalization has two fallacies: most of the coalfields originally studied were of Paleozoic age. because they vary with kerogen type as well as maturity. with CAI of 8 reached in a marble. CAI can actually measure high-grade metamorphism. because during the Paleozoic the biota was quite different than during the Cenozoic.6% Ro. Because variations in TOC have been removed in the normalizing calculation. MATURITY Kerogen Parameters. others use 440°. Measured hydrogen indices must be corrected for maturity effects by using a modified van Krevelen diagram as outlined above.Source Rock Evaluation . Because vitrinite reflectance is the most popular method of determining maturity. for most kerogens the onset of oil-generation is taken to be near 0. and the coals were of bituminous to anthracite rank.
unconformities and erosional events.5 3. we should not rely on a single analytical technique.20 1.5 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 Correlation of various kerogen-maturity parameters with vitrinite-reflectance (Ro) values .8 4. type. Vitrinite Reflectance (%Ro) 0.40 0. therefore. With increasing experience one can also learn to derive important information on thermal histories.00 1. Whenever possible. Interpretation of source-rock data on a basic level is quite simple.35 1. In some areas one technique may fail completely or may be only partially successful.50 0. and organic facies.00 4.0 3.8 3.6 2.60 0.80 1.0 2.00 3. To do this intelligently we must have the ability to develop regional models of organic facies and thermal maturity. We should always attempt to extrapolate our measured data over as large an area as possible. and maturity of the organic matter present in the rocks? Satisfactory methods are available in most cases to answer all these questions.2 3. we should attempt to corroborate the measured data by other analyses.3 2.55 SUMMARY Any source-rock evaluation should attempt to answer three questions: What are the quantity.0 4.0 Pyrolysis Tmax (°C) 420 430 440 450 460 465 470 480 500 500 + 500 + Conodont Alteration Index (CAI) 1 1 1 1.50 2.Source Rock Evaluation . rather.4 3.00 Thermal Alteration Index (TAI) 2.
B) H/C versus TAI for Mauve Well samples.3 0. quality (H /C and %Alginite + Exinite).77 0.5 1.7 1. one must first convert the measured. and then tracing the H/C ratio back to its immature value.75 0.6 2. Both the immature H / C ratios and the maceral analysis data need to be scaled to calculate "Total Oil.0 3.5 2.86 0. To use the H /C data.15 0.66 0.72 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) .2 3.5 2. and both should be utilized and examined for possible discrepancies. so "Total Oil" can be plotted against "Oil Already Generated.0 2-2.27 1.9 3. present-day H/C ratios to the ones that the kerogens had when they were thermally immature.3 1.1 3. presenting the kerogen quality factor as a .65 0.33 1." To do this.2 Atomic H/C 1.56 EXERCISES Worked out example: Perform a source-rock analysis on the Mauve Well.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).5 0.6 2.07 1. The calculated immature H/C ratios are listed in the table on next page. refer to the graph on next page.05 0.2 1.8 0. however.7 1.7 2.5 2-2.41 0.0 0.Source Rock Evaluation .7 2.22 1. as shown in Figure B (derived from Figure A).6 0. Source-rock data for the Mauve Well Depth (m) 1000 1200 1500 1750 2000 2300 2700 3000 3500 3600 3800 4000 4500 4600 4800 5000 Type of Sample Sidewall Cores %Corg 0.98 0.7 3." Two independent quality measurements have been made.1 2.38 TAI 2. This can be done easily by plotting H/C versus TAI.2 2.5 2.5 2-2.6 2.81 1.5 0.5 1. and maturity (TAI).
and not . It is apparent that there are serious discrepanties between the H/C and maceral analysis results for several of the samples. and would certainly request that the slides made for maceral analysis be reviewed.38 Immature H/C 1.6 1.90 0. Without more knowledge.85 1.07 1.6 1.81 1.60 0.35 0.2 0.77 0.15 0. it is impossible to pinpoint the error.65 0.72 0. If these attempts produced no resolution of the problem. such as pyrolysis.43 1. The samples at 1000.8 ? ? * * * Indicates discrepancy between quality factors calculated from H /C and from maceral analysis.50 1. 2300.05 0.9 0. 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 1.41 0.70 1. to check for analytical error.05 0.35 1.30 1. and 4500 meters all show differences in the quality factors calculated from the two types of data.22 1.5 1. In each case.5 1.7 1.90 0. however. 4000.20 1.0 0.00 0.33 1.75 0.65 0.81 1.05 0.22 1. 1750.27 1.86 0.8 1.90 0.4 1.57 function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen in order to determine the quality factor from H/C.60 0. 1500.07 1.66 0.9 1.05 1.Source Rock Evaluation .05 1.98 0.17 0.35 0.77 0. the H/C ratio gives the lower quality factor.6 1.60 ? ? * * * * * 1.5 1.90 ? ? Quality Factor Quality Factor (from H/ C) (from 1. The prudent interpreter might now ask that some of the H/C ratios be rerun. The scaled quality factors are given for each parameter in the table on next page. In likewise manner (not illustrated here) the quality factor can be determined from maceral analysis data. so some systematic error is likely. the interpreter might then decide to try a third technique.90 0. The most important point being made here is that these discrepanties must be taken seriously by the interpreter. Kerogen quality factor as a function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen. 2000.
.58 be overlooked or swept under the rug. More samples between 3000 and 3500 meters should be obtained to define better the zone of high "Total Oil" values. no maceral analysis was possible here. about the oil-source history of the section below 4600 meters. The only sample where the discrepancy is significant is that from 2000 meters. although the section between 2000 and 3500 meters shows fairly good potential. "Total Oil" values are generally unexciting. In fact. Finally. "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. Most of the discrepanties among the different quality factors turn out to be unimportant. "Total Oil" and "Oil Already Generated" profiles are plotted in above figure. Future exploratory activity could include an attempt to find such a section. except for the two deepest samples. It may be necessary occasionally to offer two alternative interpretations without choosing between them. These two kerogens are highly mature and quite black. The rest of the section shows a good correspondente between the two parameters. The relative organic richness of the blackened samples below 4600 meters makes them interesting for further investigation. One can say little.Source Rock Evaluation . Let us take this last approach to this problem. "Total Oil" and "Oil Already Generated" profiles tor the Mauve Well. therefore. because sourcerock potential is not good for most of the section. 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. and the H/C ratios are not helpful because the maceral types cannot be ascertained from such low H/C values.
52 0.5 2.07 0.0 2.44 0.42 0.33? 1.91 1.21 0.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10 2-2.08 0.61 0.0 0.Source Rock Evaluation .10 0.5 2.55 0.66 0. Source-rock data tor the Turquoise Well Depth (ft) 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500 10.27 1.2 2.0 2.59 0.12 *TAI and Ro are interconverted according to the correlation table at the end of chapter 7.09 0.60 0.03 0.5-3 2.5 2.90 0.49 0.05 0.0-2.5 3.5-3 3.3 2.06 0.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1.09 0.5-3 2.85 0.03 0.00 1.0 3-3.86 1.51 0.3 2.06 0.65 0.06 0.0 2.46 0.7 0.7 0.41? 1.5-3.60 0.65 0.5-3 2.59 0. Explain how you resolved any apparent discrepancies.91 1. 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 2.5-3 2.5 TOC = Total Organic Carbon Bit/TOC = Bitumen/Total organic carbon ? indicates a poor histogram TAI = Thermal Alteration Index Ro = Vitrinite reflectance .5 2.6 4.8 0.07 1.1 2.08 0.25 1.2 0.9 1.0-2.21 1.6 0.0 2.91 0.5 2.0 2.6 2.5 2.5 2.27 0.5 3.17 0.5 0.25 0.02 0.71 0.3 2. EXERCISE Source Rock 2 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well.67 0.02 0.5-3 2.5 2.11 0.07 0.51 0.5 3-3.21 1.3 1.51 0.3 Bit/TOC 0.88 0.48 Ro 0.4 0.99 1.17 0.63 0.0 2.5 2.8 1.05 0.08 0.1 0.08 0.0-2.18 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.66 0.22 0.49 0.26? 1.02 Atomic H/C 0.03 0.60 0.01 0.5 2.5 2.
Nevertheless. and migration with timing of structure development or trap formation. measured maturity data are of limited value in exploration. 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. Even in maturely explored basins the samples available for analysis often do not give a representative picture of maturity in the basin. 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. These considerations are important when we want to compare timing of generation. nor do we know at what depth or temperature it occurred.Predicting Thermal Maturity . 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. 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. In most cases. maturity measurements can only tell us about present-day maturity levels. estimates can be made. Part of this problem is a consequence of the limitations we face in attempting to obtain reliable maturity measurements.60 9 . Time-stratigraphic data are usually available as formation tops and ages obtained by routine biostratigraphic analysis of well cuttings. in frontier basins there may not be a single well within tens or hundreds of kilometers. methods have been developed for calculating maturity levels where measurements are not available. perhaps from thicknesses of exposed sections nearby. . for it is in keeping with the predictions of chemical-kinetic theory. however. If our measurements indicate that a rock has already passed through the oil-generation window. 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. If no subsurface data are available. a time stratigraphy can sometimes be constructed using seismic data. however. We need data that will enable us to construct a time stratigraphy for the location of interest and to specify its temperature history. 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. Furthermore. 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. It has even been suggested that maturity models are more accurate than measured data for determining the extent of petroleum generation. indeed. especially if the seismic reflectors can be tied to well data. If no well data are available. In some areas there are no well samples available. we still have no clue as to when oil generation occurred. This assumption is a logical and defensible one.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. He developed a "Time-Temperature Index" of maturity (TTI) to quantify his method. expulsion. In 1971.
burial-history curves represent our best understanding of the geological history of an area. sediment has accumulated continuously but at varying rates since deposition of the oldest rock 100 million years ago (Ma). we can construct the complete figure. for example. Nevertheless. The next step is to locate the first control point from the time-stratigraphic data on the input table. Today the rock is at a depth of 3700 m. An example is shown in the following figure. Connecting the six dots completes the burial-history curve. In the Tiger well. .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. representing the initial deposition of the sediment (point A) and its position today (point B). it is easy to construct burial-history curves with a high level of confidence. that the Tiger well was logged. by 80 Ma the sediment had been buried to a depth of 900 m (point C). 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. In cases where biostratigraphic data are available and deposition has been reasonably continuous. and that a corrected bottom-hole temperature of 133° C was obtained at 3800 m. The subsurface temperature must be specified for every depth throughout the relevant geologic past. Using the other control points from the input table. The burial-history curve was constructed in the following way: two points. Neglecting compaction effects. are marked on the age-depth plot. Burial-history curves are based on the best information available to the geologist. Suppose. In cases where biostratigraphic data are lacking or where the sediments have had complex tectonic histories. Using these present-day data and extrapolating them into the past. TEMPERATURE HISTORY The next step is to provide a temperature history to accompany our burial-history curve. if constructed as carefully as the data permit.Predicting Thermal Maturity . which was constructed from the time stratigraphy for the Tiger well.(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. Suppose further that local weather records indicate a yearly average surface temperature of 19° C. a burial-history curve may represent only a rather uncertain guess. we can construct the temperature grid with equally spaced isotherms parallel to the earth's surface.
however. The effects of thrusting on thermal maturity are not well understood. 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. two separate diagrams should be used for the sake of clarity. the burial-history curve again begins to trend downward. but the geothermal gradient varies in response to heating or cooling events. however.Predicting Thermal Maturity . burial-history curves for both hanging wall and footwall can be represented on a single diagram. The individual segments of each of the burial-history curves in a family will remain parallel. SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT BURIAL-HISTORY CURVES The most common complicating factor in constructing burial-history curves is erosional removal. Causes for such events could include global warming and cooling or local climatic variations resulting from continental drift or elevation changes. we are limited only by our own creativity. some part of the section is repeated as a result of thrusting. temperature profiles will be based largely on guesswork. Erosion is indicated in a burial-history curve by an upward movement of the curve. In most cases. There are numerous other variations that can be employed in creating temperature grids. the movement of hot rocks from the bottom of the overthrusted slab over cool rocks at the top of the underthrusted slab will affect . If thrusting is rapid compared to the rate of thermal equilibration between thrust sheets. In many poorly explored areas. we can change surface temperatures through time without altering the geothermal gradient. In other cases the surface temperature remains constant. Whenever erosional removal occurs. Given adequate data or an appropriate model on which to base complex temperature reconstructions. More complicated temperature histories account for changes in thermal conductivities caused by variations in lithology. the data necessary for highly sophisticated temperature reconstructions are simply not available.62 Where measured bottom-hole temperatures are not available. For example (9-7). the resultant thinning of the section must be represented in the entire family of burial-history curves. 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. If part of the section is missing as a result of faulting. Faulting can be dealt with by considering the hanging wall and footwall as separate units having distinct burial histories. If deposition resumes later. If.
Individual burial-history curves remain parallel. increases exponentially with increasing temperature. This intervalTTI value represents the maturity acquired by the rock in that temperature interval during the time . we need to define both a time factor and a temperature factor for each temperature interval. respectively. in contrast.400 cal/mol will approximately double with every 10° C increase in reaction temperature. Studies in the Overthrust Belt of Wyoming indicate that a slow-equilibration model is superior to a simple model invoking rapid thermal equilibration. Testing of his model and the successful application of Lopatin's method in numerous published examples have confirmed the general validity of this assumption.Predicting Thermal Maturity . Lopatin chose the 100°-110° C interval as his base and assigned to it an index value n = 0. 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. These dots define the time and temperature intervals that we shall use in our calculations. decreases by 1000 m. expressed in millions of years. 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). Lopatin (1971) assumed that the rate of maturation followed this doubling rule. Intersections of the burial-history curve with each isotherm are marked with dots.63 organic maturation by causing important perturbations in subsurface temperatures. Total maturity is calculated by summing the incremental maturity added in each succeeding temperature interval. more work is required before we will understand fully how thrusting influences hydrocarbon generation and destruction. Now we can carry out the maturity calculations. Because the rate of maturation was assumed to increase by a factor of two for every 10° C rise in temperature. In order to carry out maturity calculations conveniently. for any temperature interval the temperature factor (?) was given by: ? = 2n The temperature-factor thus reflects the exponential dependence of maturity on temperature. A Time interval is the length of time that the rock has spent in a particular temperature interval. However.(9-12) CALCULATION OF MATURITY Once the burial-history curves and temperature grids have been constructed. The temperature factor. Lopatin defined each time factor simply as the length of time. Index values increase or decrease regularly at higher or lower temperatures intervals. spent by the rock in each temperature interval. we must paste them together. but the distance between the two lines which bracket the erosion. Temperature intervals are defined by successive isotherms spaced 10° C apart. Loss of 1000 m of section by erosion during an uplift event lasting from 70 Ma to 60 Ma.
we cannot "unburn" it. In D 40 Ma of rapid burial to a depth of 4000 m was followed by a hiatus lasting 30 Ma and. baking will continue. although at increasingly slower rates. finally. Figure C shows rapid burial during the first 20 Ma. the cake will bake slowly at first but will bake faster and faster as the temperature rises. FACTORS AFFECTING THERMAL MATURITY Because maturity is affected by both baking time and baking temperature. even if a rock cools down. On the other hand. Maturity always increases. but quite rapid in the last 10 my.(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. 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). we simply sum all the interval-TTI values for the rock. In B burial was very slow during the first 70 Ma of the rock's existence. The first step in calculating TTI is illustrated in the following figure. followed by a nonerosional depositional hiatus for the last 50 Ma. where the time factors and yfactors for each temperature interval are shown on the burial-history curve. TTI values differ appreciably among these four scenarios.64 given. if we forget about the cake when the oven is hot and let it burn. In A the rock was buried at a constant rate for its entire 80-my history. To obtain total maturity. the specific burial history of a rock can strongly affect its maturity. as the oven cools down. In the adjoining table interval-TTI values and total-TTI values up to the present day are calculated. Furthermore. no matter how much or how rapidly we cool it down. . A good analogy can be drawn between oil generation and baking.Predicting Thermal Maturity . by 10 Ma of uplift and erosion. If we turn off the oven but leave the cake inside. maturity continues to increase (albeit at a slower rate) because y is always greater than zero. If we put a cake in a cold oven and turn the oven on. it can never go backward because interval-TTI values are never negative.
Family of burial-history curves for a well in the Big Horn Basin. the dependence of maturity on time is linear. in contrast. Km = Lance-Meeteetse formations. Various methods have been developed for this purpose. is the single most important cause of uncertainty and error in maturity calculations. Age calls are often made within a million years. Only in cases where micropaleontological dating was not or could not be carried out. First.65 A) Initial proposed burialhistory model for Well #1. Temperature. Tu = undifferentiated Tertiary.(9-29) Furthermore. our uncertainties about the true values of subsurface temperatures are much greater than about time. B) Revised burial-history model for Well #1 based on the poor correlation with measured maturity data. Present-day subsurface temperatures are difficult to measure accurately.Predicting Thermal Maturity . Secondly. so even a rather large error in baking time will not produce a catastrophic change in maturity. Most logged temperatures are too low and require correction. 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. Kc = Cody-Frontier formations. might we anticipate possible problems with time. we usually have excellent control on rock ages through micropaleontology. The sensitivity of maturity to temperature is clearly indicated by the exponential dependence of maturity on temperature predicted by the Arrhenius equation. time data are seldom a problem. In actuality. . Wyoming. but there is no guarantee of their accuracy in any particular case. showing the evolution of the oilgeneration window through time. The model includes an extensive nonerosional depositional hiatus. Tfu = Fort Union Formation. and can be even better in Cenozoic rocks.
do not utilize different kinetic parameters for the various kerogen types.65 0.8 1.90 0.4 0.03 0.7 0. Base Pleistocene 2 Ma Base Pliocene 5 Base Upper Miocene 11 Base Middle Miocene 50 Ma .66 0. Source-rock data tor the Turquoise Well Depth (ft) 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500 10.07 1.5-3 2. Despite experimental evidence indicating that different kerogens decompose to yield hydrocarbons at different levels of maturity models.5-3.5 2. It penetrated 1000 ft of Pleistocene sediments.17 0.65 0.Predicting Thermal Maturity .5-3 3.71 0. particularly where Paleozoic rocks are involved. however.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. 3500 ft of Pliocene. A plausible average surface temperature is 20° C.1 0.51 0.06 0. where presentday temperatures are maximum paleotemperatures.01 0.91 1.99 1.03 0.0 0.5 2.000 ft of Upper Miocene before being abandoned at 16.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1. In many cases.41? 1.5 2. we still would have to extrapolate the present somehow into the past. EXERCISES EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 1 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well. and 11.5 0.25 1.5-3 2.9 1.5 3.8 0.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10 2-2.60 0.21 1. A question of some concern comes from the previously mentioned fact that most of the maturity models treat all types of kerogen identically.3 Bit/TOC 0.06 0. The corrected bottom-hole temperature was 270° F. Construct a family of burial-history curves for the well and calculate the present-day TTI at total depth. however.5-3 2.3 2. an accurate interpretation of the ancient geothermal history may be critical.52 0.08 0.2 0.02 Atomic H/C 0. even an inaccurate extrapolation into the past may not cause significant problems.88 0. In other cases.5 3.5 2.33? 1.67 0.85 0.02 0.5-3 2.66 Even if we could measure present-day subsurface temperatures with perfect accuracy.59 0.22 0.1 2.08 0.26? 1.91 0.08 0.00 1.21 1.5 3-3.0 3-3.3 1.48 Ro 0.5-3 2.18 0.91 1. In such cases we should be very careful about using predicted maturities unless we have some independent confirmation of the validity of our model from a comparison with measured maturity data.86 1.49 0.27 0.6 4.7 0.27 1.150 ft in the Middle Miocene.05 0.51 0.
draw a burial-history curve for the section penetrated and calculate maturity for the Kimmeridgian shale. Evidence from related sections indicates that the Paleocene was originally about 3000 ft thick and that no other Cenozoic sediments were ever deposited. Determine when each of the strata began to generate oil. Corrected BHT (4200 m): Estimated surface temp.end Cretaceous: 15° C 141° C 25° C EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 4 The Ultraviolet Well is spudded in Paleocene sediments.5 88. At a depth of 1500 ft. assuming a constant geothermal gradient through time.5 base Turonian base Cenomanian base Cretaceous top Kimmeridgian base Kimmeridgian 91 Ma 97 144 150 156 Ma . 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. Find when the rock at 3000 m began to generate oil (TTI = 10). Time-stratigraphic data Temperature data Age (Ma) 0 2 38 65 80 100 Depth (m) 0 500 1200 2700 3000 4000 Present-day average surface temp. Total depth is reached at 6120 ft in Middle Jurassic rocks. Assuming a surface temperature of 10° C and a geothermal gradient of 2° F/100 ft. Age data top Paleocene base Paleocene base Maastrichtian base Campanian base Santonian base Coniacian 55 Ma 65 73 83 87. 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. It is also believed that 500 ft of Lower Cretaceous sediments were deposited before uplift and erosion began. micropaleontology indicates the rocks to be of Maestrichtian age.Predicting Thermal Maturity .
000 25. Because of the high operations cost. The following geological summary is available to you. From 40 Ma to the present about 500m of additional burial occurred. The geothermal gradient was found to be 1. upper management has decided that gas and condensate are not economical.000 23. Erosional removal since the Permian probably totals about 2000 ft. 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. Your responsibility is to make a recommendation regarding the nature of hydrocarbons that might be present in die prospect. they are in turn overlain at 2750m by a sandstone of excellent reservoir quality.000 13. At that time nearby orogenic activity caused the first traps to be formed during a gradual 1200m uplift lasting until 40 Ma. Nearby well control indicates that a geothermal gradient of 3. oil-prone source rock at about 4300m depth near the prospect.000 18.68 EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 5 Analyze the timing of oil generation in the Pink Well. 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. Carboniferous '' Ordovician '' Depth (ft) 7. The reservoir is sealed by a thick salt layer. The basin filled at a generally uniform rate from about 300 Ma to 100 Ma. No other source rocks were noted. Time-stratigraphic data are given in the following table.000 11. . No unconformities are recognized within the Paleozoic." Utilizing the principles of hydrocarbon generation and preservation.500 21. rich.500 27. Highly fractured carbonates overlie the source rock. "A regional study of the area suggests the probable presence of a thin.0° F/100 ft.Predicting Thermal Maturity .000 8.500 EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 6 You have been asked to evaluate an undrilled prospect in a remote area that is available in an expensive farm-in deal. No other reservoirs are anticipated. evaluate the prospect.65°C/100 m and a surface intercept of 15°C are reasonable for the area. and the surface temperature today is about 15° C. The source rock is thought to be about 300 Ma old. Carboniferous '' '' '' '' E.
once a discovery is made. and tertiary reserves using more exotic techniques. and terms can be used equally for gas. of the following terms: OIL IN PLACE This is the total volume of oil. This may be done via a standard deviation or by a statistical probability (see below). let us again emphasize that we are dealing all the time with uncertainties. Note. our wells. The stock tank is. is liable to change between our information points. Increasingly these days. Some might use the term to refer to the amount of recoverable oil that is believed to lie within a given radius. located at surface near the well-head. half a mile or whatever. Proven reserves: Here we start to enter a minefield! Different companies have different definitions of what is proven. 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. just what these changes amount to. We cannot regard these quantities as `reserves'. We will refer to oil. which controls the amounts of oil in the reservoir. A bald figure for `recoverable reserves' is somewhat meaningless. Similarly. 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. 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. in the case of small fields. there is no way that we can know precisely how much we have found: the geology. until actually all of the oil has been produced. or predict. methods. However.69 10 . This section is included to give an idea of what is involved. we are involved with a greater or less degree of uncertainty about quantities. it is desirable to be able to express our degree of confidence in it. unless we can be more specific about how we are going to produce them. Because anyway there is uncertainty about this amount. they might designate as `probable'. even within oil companies. and oil may be produced directly into it. 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 try to understand. before we started to take any of it out. and therefore without any dissolved gas of significance. We may distinguish between primary reserves that can be produced without any artificial assistance other than pumping. since we are never able to recover all of the oil that is down there in the reservoir. 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 yet oil companies need to know what to expect. What they think is beyond that in the accumulation.Quantitative Assessment . Now we must see how we can apply our knowledge of the geology to assessing the amounts of petroleum that we have found. let alone how much. however. or hope to find. It usually refers to what was there originally. First. which can be produced using assisted or enhanced recovery techniques. So. companies tend to use `proven' for those reserves that are believed to be present with an 85 or maybe 90 per cent degree of . How do we handle these problems? Before we get into this. secondary reserves. You may see the engineers using the term STOOIP: stock tank oil originally in place. but the same considerations.Quantitative Assessment So far we have been talking in rather generalized terms. we have to remember that we are dealing with a resource and that we are very concerned with the quantities involved. Recoverable reserves: The volume of oil that can actually be produced to surface from an accumulation. of a well.
So we multiply the bulk volume of the reservoir in the trap by those factors that represent the non-oil. and the thickness of the reservoir govern it. – N/G is the net to gross ratio.70 confidence or statistical probability. if we hear simply about `reserves'.Quantitative Assessment . and just to qualify our figures by statistical probabilities: at least then people would know what is meant! Original and remaining reserves: These are fairly obvious. We 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. It may well be that it is best to avoid the terms `proven'. to refer to a degree of confidence or probability. it shrinks because gas bubbles out of it as its pressure is eased during production. We then eliminate progressively everything from this volume that is not oil. The shape of the trap. If we do not know where the gas-oil and oil-water contacts are. . 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. in this case 50 per cent. What anyway should we regard as net reservoir? A rather arbitrary porosity cut-off value is often used. which is the percentage of the bulk volume that actually contains the oil. 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. the volume of the gas cap and the water-bearing rock below the oil-water contact being discounted. Recoverable reserves = [BV * Fill * N/G * ? * (1 . to cover the reserves that have only a 15 or 10 per cent chance of being present. DISCOVERED RESERVES Once a discovery of oil has been made. They refer respectively to what was there and recoverable before we started producing. Sometimes `possible' is also seen. We have to discount those parts of it that are useless and just consider the net reservoir thickness. Again we need an average value for the field. or rather the average porosity of the net reservoir across the entire accumulation. Usually. Probable reserves: Equally dodgy! One definition was given above: the term may be used. This can be pretty subjective. if we do. like `proven'. `probable'. 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. What this means and how we arrive at the figure. It is affected by many factors. and regional and local geological interpretation. including the adequacy of the source rock to provide enough oil to the trap. that are meant. even when we have information from a lot of wells. we shall see shortly. then this factor may be little more than a guess. BV will be determined from seismic and well data. This will be controlled by variations in the nature of the sediments that comprise the reservoir. it is the remaining reserves. and what is still there for the taking at a given date.Sw)] * RF * Constant FVF where: – BV is the volume of the reservoir formation within the closure of the trap above the spill-point. but what happens between and beyond our well control? – Sw is the water saturation. the higher will be the water saturation. the percentage of the porosity that is occupied by the immovable water. Not all of a reservoir formation is going to be sufficiently porous and permeable to contribute oil to production. faulting. – FVF is the formation volume factor. meaning that we have to try to interpret in detail the environments that the sediments were deposited in. We do our best from measurements on core samples and from wireline log interpretation. – ? is the porosity. and `possible' altogether. then we can go straight to the bulk reservoir volume containing the oil. and the quality and strength of the cap rock. – Fill is the `fill factor'.
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. Then we get a computer to pick a value for each factor at random from the range we have given. there must be considerable uncertainty to say the least. we can work out the standard deviation (the ±) which will give an idea of our confidence in our answer. and to try to be as honest and objective as possible. this is commonly about 50-60 per cent. If we are working entirely in the metric system. for this average value. and arrive at perhaps wildly different answers. The Americans measure reservoir volume in acre-feet: area in acres multiplied by reservoir thickness in feet. somewhere within which the `true' figure must be.). doubtful estimates by doubtful estimates. the proportion of the oil in the reservoir that we can actually recover and produce. and then analysed statistically. but biassing its pick towards our best estimate. from minimum possible to maximum possible. Alternatively one may plot the frequencies as percentages of the total number of answers: the statistical probabilities. It is a figure that we cannot know exactly until we have finished producing. and again. even though they may be well aware that any such figures will eventually turn out to be wrong. Instead of estimating single figures for the factors that go into the reserves formula. we give as our preferred figure the average of all the answers (the mean). having regard to all of the geology. however. In a sandstone reservoir. in producing figures for all of these factors. Note that the preferred answer that is usually used is the mean value. Diagrammatic plots of the outputs from two Monte Carlo simulations.Quantitative Assessment . known as a Monte Carlo simulation. If we plot out the answers on our list falling within successive size ranges (in barrels of oil). Most commonly these days. until we begin to wonder whether our answer has any reality or meaning at all. but it may be a good deal less from carbonates.This is because. A constant is needed to adjust the units. What we are doing. It will be clear to anyone that. since it is about this that the standard deviation can be calculated. Who is right? Whose answer should we use? Can we indeed believe any of them? Unfortunately we cannot escape from the problem. the problem is tackled through a statistical technique. To get an answer to our sum in barrels of oil. then we don't have to worry. is to multiply uncertainties by uncertainties. any one of which could be the real value. our best estimate. So we usually have to base our estimate on prior experience elsewhere. maybe 500 or 1000 times. The number of answers in successive reserve ranges is plotted against the size ranges themselves. The list is put into order from the smallest to the largest. So we have a whole list of answers. . we shall find that the bulk of them tend to cluster round the middle (Fig. for each of the factors we work out our best estimate. we have to multiply the figure we calculate by 7758. companies. and we also specify the total range.. and again. More commonly. then. and governments must have numbers that they can use for planning purposes. The computer does the sum using these values. Different geologists will certainly come up with different values for at least some of the input factors..71 – – RF is the recovery factor. Then we ask it to do the same thing again.
50. we have to go a stage further. it doesn't take any account of the fact that our exploration well may. and 10 per cent levels of probability respectively. probable. the 90. And if all this sounds like a gambling game. but rather it is the number an individual geologist might produce to reflect his/her personal interpretation of the geology. So this type of graph has now become one of the standard key tools in exploration/development decision.72 The output from a Monte Carlo simulation with the percentages plotted cumulatively. in numbers. It is this sort of thing that helps to make the oil exploration business so competitive. turn out to be totally dry-lacking in hydrocarbons. We try to assess the probability that each factor will be satisfied.at least until we start also considering the costs and economics. objective. now gives a more complete picture of the viability of an undrilled prospect . you may say. perhaps. for geological reasons. say. . then no oil. and possible at. different geologists will arrive at different figures for the probability of success.the risk factor. we can read off from the graph the chances of our field containing that much oil or more. combined with the estimate of how much. Indeed it does not! When we are looking at exploration of the unknown. the same values are discounted by a 50 per cent risk factor. In the lower plot. but also the chance of there in fact being any oil at all. Incidently. When it comes down to risk. if the engineers say that a field of so many million barrels is going to be needed to justify development and production costs. This chance (probability) is known as the risk factor: it is an expression. It cannot be worked out completely objectively. For example. UNDISCOVERED RESERVES This is all very well.Quantitative Assessment . we can plot out the percentages of answers in successive size ranges cumulatively as we work down the list (Fig. there really is no such thing as the risk factor.). and honest as can be in assessing exploration risk. It is also used to assist management in making their exploration/development decisions. We have to give not only our best estimate of how much petroleum there might be. It will give a graph which shows the probability that the reserves will be of a certain size or more. 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. of our confidence that there will be at least some oil. to give the chance of discovering certain reserves or more including the 50 per cent chance that we may find nothing at all. 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. Of course we try to be as scientific. the curve represents the chance (probability) that the reserves are a certain size or greater. Most usefully. This is what is used to determine those reserves that may be called proven. management can then decide whether or not to take the gamble on developing the field at those odds. The risk factor. that is exactly what it is. as opposed to assessing what we already know to be there. By plotting the answers from the 100 per cent probability downwards. if any one of them fails or is lacking. and then merely combine the probabilities to give an overall probability . but it assumes that we have already discovered oil. and ensures that all possibilities are considered.
let us note a number known as the risked reserves. and made available for entrapment (the `charge') can be calculated. then the area under it represents the total volume of oil found to date. and use the figures for the known also for the unknown ones. The obvious thing to do is to add together the risked reserves estimates of all the remaining prospects. 4. get a number of experts to make their forecasts by whatever technique they prefer and. or would our money be better spent on drilling a smaller but safer one? The risked reserves. we have to assume that today we can identify and assess all of the prospects that ever will be found in the basin. the built-in risk factor takes care of this. In a similar vein the amount of oil found world-wide each year from the beginning of the century can be plotted. 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. This figure is extremely imprecise and may be not much more than a guess. Use past statistics (number of barrels of oil found on average for each 100m of exploration drilling?) and extrapolate to future drilling. the amount of oil generated. otherwise we may be doing little more than guessing. If we have a reasonable amount of information and control. we are said to be consulting the oracles! All of the above techniques have been used. If all else fails. knowing how rich it is. 5. However. to believe that we can do this would be the height of conceit. 3. Some of these will be successful. merely use the average of the figures they produce. unless we really have a lot of information (we never have enough!). This combines in a single estimate. But we have to admit that. all of them are very dodgy . for example. 2. Forcing these experts to agree a figure amongst them might refine the approach. we can. then use these figures for the unexplored parts of the basin. This is known as the Delphi technique. This kind of plot can be used also for individual basins or for the whole world. 6. remains to be found. the two elements of size and chance of success. and a number of techniques have been employed. qualify it by a statistical probability. on average. the expected reserve estimates from our Monte Carlo simulation multiplied (discounted) by the risk factor (Fig. and calculate average quantities of oil per cubic mile of sediment. However. This starts with the volume of mature source rock in the basin and then. Let us look at the more important ones. Undiscovered are thus what we hope to find in a prospect area or sedimentary basin in the future. Adding this to the original reserves will give us what is sometimes called the `ultimate reserves'-a grand total for the basin. 1. Many `experts' have scratched their heads over the estimation of undiscovered reserves. ULTIMATE RESERVES So far we have been talking about a single oil accumulation or a single prospect. but some will be dry. however. expelled. if we draw a smooth line through it to even out the peaks and the troughs. on this tack. for our `best estimate'. Delphi was the place in ancient Greece where one went to consult the oracle about one's future. Extrapolate this smoothing line out into the future. however. and as such can be very useful in planning an exploration program. and the area under that bit will represent what. go for a large but very risky prospect. or underlying each square mile of surface area.Quantitative Assessment .). There are lots of uncertainties in this but the calculation would be amenable to a Monte Carlo type of simulation. this technique may bring us into the right ball-park. it is a pretty wild sort of plot.73 Lastly. We might look at explored and known parts of the basin. is a hypothetical figure. We could make comparisons between known and unknown basins. 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. We could adopt what is known as a `geochemical material balance' approach. sometimes in combination. Should we. and some may be more appropriate in given circumstances than the others.
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