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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
and temperature increases. As burial depth increases. are chemically distinct from each other. it is known that organic debris derived from plants and algae is best preserved in fine-grained sediments deposited in the absence of oxygen. These changes lead to a gradual cessation of microbial activity. 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. In the early stages of catagenesis most of the molecules produced from kerogen are still relatively large. called methanogens. and were formed as dead organic matter was converted to microbial tissues. Migration through these conduits often leads to traps. . Although the transformation process is very complex. these are the precursors for petroleum. and thus eventually bring organic diagenesis to a halt. Certain microorganisms. Low-temperature chemical and biological reactions (called diagenesis) that occur during transport to and early burial in the depositional environment modify this organic matter. where hydrocarbon movement ceases and accumulation occurs. kerogen begins to decompose into smaller. with many details still poorly understood. Many of the chemical compounds present in sediments are in fact derived from bacteria. 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. more mobile molecules. oil and gas molecules can be expelled from the source rock into more permeable carrier beds or conduits. and are called bitumen . porosity and permeability decrease. The earliest stage of hydrocarbon generation occurs during diagenesis. Most of this organic matter is transformed during diagenesis info very large molecules. These play a key role as the precursors for oil and much natural gas. These differences can have a significant effect on hydrocarbon generation.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. Once formed. As temperature rises. the largest of which are called kerogen. convert some of the organic debris to biogenic methane. called metagenesis. During this second transformation phase. In the late stages of catagenesis and in the final transformation stage. Formation of biogenic methane has been recognized for a long time. or under different diagenetic conditions.Organic Facies .5 1 . the principal products consist of smaller gas molecules. called catagenesis.
6 2 . however. Some of the organic material in sediments consists of fragments of plants or algae that derived their energy from the sun. the yearly productivity of both groups is about equal. Oxidative decay of dead organic matter is a highly efficient process mediated largely by microorganisms.Organic Facies . less than 1% of the annual photosynthetic production escapes from the carbon cycle and is preserved in sediments. Most organic carbon is returned to the atmosphere through the carbon cycle. we need to understand how this organic matter came to be preserved in the rocks. 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. comprises microbial tissue formed within the sediments by the bacterial transformation of plant and algal debris. Preservation of organic matter begins with photosynthesis.Organic Facies THE CARBON CYCLE Because oil and gas are generated from organic matter in sedimentary rocks. Despite the great imbalance in biomass between terrestrial plants (450 billion metric tons [t]) and aquatic phytoplankton (5 billion t). Preservation of organic material is actually a rare event. as a consequence of the much more rapid reproduction of simple aquatic organisms. Zooplankton and higher animals contribute relatively little organic matter to sediments. Because of . A large fraction.
and recycling by organic decay. When we consider inefficiencies in discovery and recovery. Productivity is the logical place to begin our analysis. and dilution. Each factor may be dominant under different conditions. In the modern world there are zones of intense seasonal upwelling off the west coasts of California. because without adequate productivity. In relatively unrestricted marine environments. the low TOC values could indicate that the remaining organic matter has no more nutritional value. If this deeper water is enriched in nutrients. high photosynthetic productivity will occur at the site of upwelling. carbonate supply. Although some destruction of organic material occurs during transport to the depositional environment. with a preference for horizontal water movement within each density layer. however.1%. Depth could interfere with microbial diagenesis when compaction reduces pore sizes and nutrient fluxes in interstitial waters. Although oxidative decay destroys most of the yearly production. On the other hand. one of the critical parameters governing productivity. in fact. predators. paleoclimate. Upwelling occurs where bulk movement of surface water away from a particular area allows deeper water to ascend to replace it.Organic Facies .000. Peru. Total Organic Carbon (TOC) values decrease monotonically through the first 300 meters of burial before levelling out at about 0. Nutrient availability is. and Northwest Africa that result from the movement of surface waters away from these coasts. light intensity. accumulation of organic-rich sediments cannot occur. Namibia. Only where there is upwelling of subsurface waters can these nutrients return to the photic zone.000 billion t) dispersed in fine-grained sedimentary rocks.05%) occurs in economic deposits of fossil fuels. much of the terrestrial organic material is already highly oxidized when it arrives in the sediments. because under normal circumstances they cannot move upward into the zone of photosynthesis. Nutrients dissolved in waters below the photic zone therefore go unutilized. Shallowmarine environments. PRODUCTIVITY A partial listing of the many factors influencing productivity would include nutrient availability. The three primary factors influencing the amount of organic matter in a sedimentary rock are productivity. watercirculation patterns are particularly important for supplying nutrients and thus controlling productivity. temperature. a great deal of the oxidation of organic matter occurs within the sediments themselves. or about 0. suggesting that either depth or organiccarbon content eventually limits diagenesis. over vast amounts of geologic time the small fraction that escaped the carbon cycle has built up extremely large quantities of organic matter (20. FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANIC RICHNESS In order for organic-rich rocks to be formed. where there is local recycling of nutrients from decaying organisms and influx of fresh nutrients from terrestrial sources. Only a small fraction of this (10.7 extensive oxidation of land-plant debris in soils. orogeny and erosion. and that the microbes have given up trying to digest it. are therefore much more productive than the open ocean. nutrient availability would depend on such factors as water circulation patterns. only one molecule out of about every one million successfully negotiates the journey from living organism to the gasoline pump.000 billion t. significant amounts of organic matter must be deposited and protected from diagenetic destruction. Bodies of water naturally develop density stratification. preservation. There is another zone of seasonal upwelling off the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean as a result of . Each of these categories could in turn be further subdivided. For example. and general water chemistry. volcanism.
These anaerobic processes are inefficient compared with aerobic diagenesis. increasing preservation rates is a very efficient way to increase organic richness. microorganisms that utilize materials like sulfate or nitrate ions instead of molecular oxygen as electron acceptors in their metabolic processes. especially in the Palaeozoic. the accuracy with which we can reconstruct continental positions. After all. Secondly.8 monsoonal winds that drive surface waters away from the coast.5 mL/L).2 mL/L. and sediments is biological. The term dysaerobic has been used to describe processes occurring in the transitional zone (0. paleoclimatic conditions. All these areas exhibit high productivity when upwelling occurs. preservation of organic matter will be much enhanced. The presence of undegraded marine organic material is a strong indication of anoxia. Theoretical models have been developed to predict upwelling (and consequent productivity) in ancient seas from input data on continental configurations. Because most of the oxidation occurring in the water column. At dissolved oxygen levels below about 0.2-0. Anoxic sediments are not always easy to recognize. All large organisms require oxygen in order to live. soils. and all the other factors that influence upwelling loci is severely limited. Thus if anoxia can develop. because some of the commonly used indicators of anoxia may be misleading. At lower levels of dissolved oxygen. However. wind and water circulation patterns.2 mL/L is called the anoxic zone. Its presence in . the zone where oxygen falls below 0. and are usually limited in scope by the availability of sulfate or nitrate. There are many more organic-rich facies resulting from excellent preservation than from extremely high productivity. ANOXIA. its use in practice has been expanded to include very low oxygen levels as well. if on the average only 1% of organic matter is preserved." hut because of the radical change in biota that occurs at about 0. We call the zone in which oxygen contents are high the oxic zone. many species disappear. diagenesis is restricted to anaerobic processes. the type of organic matter deposited. Anoxic sediments always contain elevated TOC values (generally above 2% and always above 1% ). and because most biological oxidation processes require molecular oxygen. and the sediment-accumulation rate. respectively. First. and we could coin the term dysoxic to describe the zone itself. There are. oxidizing agents are probably the most crucial factor. Of these. productivity is probably not as important a factor as preservation. PRESERVATION The principal control on organic richness is the efficiency of preservation of organic matter in sedimentary environments. Three factors affect the preservation (or destruction) of organic matter: the concentration and nature of oxidizing agents. essentially the only viable organisms are those that we call anaerobes. TOC values alone must therefore be used with caution. and paleoclimates. although some species can tolerate extremely low oxygen levels (0. however. Anoxia is of tremendous importance in the preservation of organic matter in sediments. because marine organic matter is consumed preferentially by organisms. Such models are interesting. some problems associated with their application.5 milliliters (mL) per liter (L)). the simplest way to limit oxidation is to limit the supply of oxygen. landmasses. The term "anoxic" literally means "having no oxygen.2 mL/L.Organic Facies . Processes that occur in these two zones are called aerobic and anaerobic. the remaining individuals often become dwarfed in an effort to survive in a hostile environment. especially of woody origin. much oxic sediment also contains large amounts of organic matter. because when the availability of oxygen is limited. and may in fact prove useful in future exploration efforts.
The supply of fresh oxygen is therefore limited to horizontal . The oxygen minimum layer usually begins immediately below the photic zone. STAGNANT BASINS.9 rocks therefore indicates that diagenesis was stopped prematurely. leading to the eventual development of a pycnocline (density interface) which prevents interchange between the two layers. where photosynthesis and turbulence can no longer contribute oxygen to the water. Many black rocks. If an isolated body of water is deep enough. it may well have developed after burial. Lakes of the Rift Valley of East Africa are excellent modern analogs receiving much attention from both researchers and explorationists at the present time. no more oxygen can enter. Conversely. Lakes in failed rifts can also contain organic-rich. Lack of communication between the layers prohibits replenishment of oxygen in the bottom layer. and its presence indicates that the anaerobic reduction of sulfate ion did occur. The presence of pyrite itself can also be deceptive. but limnic environments often are. in fact. and both the waters in the bottom layer and the underlying sediments will become anoxic. it cannot represent an anoxic facies. All anoxic sediments will be very dark gray or black when deposited. Therefore. denser waters remain at the bottom. and therefore that dissolved-oxygen levels were below 0. then permanent density stratification will arise as a result of temperature differences within the water column. Consumption of oxygen results from decay of dead organisms that have sunk from the photic zone above. Although pyrite does indeed form under anoxic conditions. there is no guarantee that anoxia was present at the sea floor. and if the climate is subtropical or tropical. particularly in understanding lacustrine beds. are anoxic in some of the places where they have been penetrated. it is instructive to consider complete stagnation. Lake deposits associated with continental rifting. Marine basins are seldom isolated enough to fit well into the stagnant-basin model. and warm climates are necessary to avoid overturn caused by freeze-thaw cycles. This oxygen minimum develops when the rate of consumption of oxygen within that layer exceeds the rate of influx of oxygen to it. anoxic sediments show preserved depositional laminae on a millimeter or submillimeter scale. and strata from several basins in China. Furthermore. Color is not a reliable indicator. they often owe their dark color to finely divided pyrite or to particular chert phases. anoxia can be very local. The ultimate implications of anoxia for petroleum exploration are great. The laminae prove that burrowing fauna were absent. Truly stagnant basins are actually quite rare. Wyoming). The cooler. once the original oxygen has been consumed in oxidizing organic matter. that most of the world's oil was generated from source beds deposited under anoxic conditions. 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. Finally.2 mL/L. however. Nevertheless. the Elko Formation (Eocene/Oligocene. Color should be used mainly as a negative criterion: If a rock is not very. most likely by absence of oxygen. OXYGEN-MINIMUM LAYER (OML). Among the ancient lake beds thought to have been deposited in permanently stratified waters are the well-known Green River Shale (middle Eocene. the presence of bioturbation indicates that the bottom waters were not anoxic. Nevada). it has been estimated. very dark.Organic Facies . anoxic sediments. although stunted burrows can be used as evidence of dysoxia. slow circulation or turnover of the water column occurs almost everywhere. It therefore behoves us to understand the conditions under which anoxia develops. Depths in excess of 200 m are required to prevent mixing during storms. especially during the Triassic along the margins of the developing Atlantic Ocean. 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.
when a major transgression had greatly increased the continental shelf area. Below the OML oxygen levels again increase. Where the sill is shallow.10 movement of oxygen-bearing waters.. because these horizontally moving waters also lie within the oxygen minimum layer. if the basin is deep enough. In an evaporitic environment (Karabogaz in the Caspian Sea) there is a net flow of water into the basin. to a lesser extent. with the bottom layer almost isolated from the open-marine waters. The result is often deposition of organic-rich laminae within evaporites. the shallowness of the swamps prevents the waters themselves from becoming anoxic. 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 productivity reduces oxygen levels. mid-Cretaceous. as a result of diminished oxygen demand. and grazers and predatory organism are eliminated by the high salinities. Wherever an intensely developed OML intersects the sediment-water interface. Coal Swamps. sediments will be deposited under low-oxygen conditions. However.Organic Facies . the waters entering or leaving the basin are near surface. high influxes of organic matter. Anoxia . During those times the OML expanded both upward and downward because of poor supply of oxygen to subsurface waters. those environments can also incorporate the features of an oxygen-minimum-layer model. Intensely developed OMLs occur in areas of high productivity and. Furthermore. It is not coincidental that these were times of deposition of large amounts of organic-rich rocks in many parts of the world. foreset beds within the same system are leaner in organic matter because they are deposited above the OML. or as lateral facies equivalente thereof. Shallowly silled basins often yield evaporites. Large amounts of organic material are preserved in coal swamps as a result of the combined effects of poor water circulation. in areas of poor circulation. In times like the mid-Cretaceous. and high hydrogen-sulfide concentrations create conditions poisonous to predators. Shallow Silling. which could be excellent hydrocarbon source rocks. RESTRICTED CIRCULATION. In actuality there is a lazy turnover of the bottom waters. It has been proposed that at certain times in the past (e. Nutrients are concentrated by evaporation. Any organic matter arriving in those sediments will have an excellent chance to escape oxidation. Settings in which circulation is restricted are much more common than stagnant basins. permanent density stratification will develop. Although circulation in coal swamps is generally sluggish. 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. Late Devonian) the world oceans were severely depleted in dissolved oxygen. because of their connection with the open-marine realm. since most organic matter was destroyed within the overlying OML.g. In contrast. Circulation is often restricted by the presence of a sill. In either case. the point of connection between the restricted area and the open-marine environment. Coal swamps can develop under a variety of conditions in both marine and non-marine environments. There are other ancient and modern examples of organic-rich rocks deposited under anoxic or near-anoxic conditions associated with OMLs. the oxygen they can contribute is limited. Although an oxygen-minimum layer exists virtually everywhere in the ocean. Evaporitic environments combine the opportunity for abundant growth of algae with ideal conditions for preservation. Late jurassic. its intensity varies greatly. including paleoclimate and water circulation. This depletion was probably the result of the complex interplay of several factors. whereas in a fluvially dominated system (Black Sea) the net flow of surface water is out over the sill. and diminished bacterial activity. but it is too slow to disturb the anoxia which develops in the bottom layer.
Lack of sulfate in non-marine swamps further prevents anaerobic microbial destruction of the organic matter. cuticular. Phenolic bactericides derived from lignin hinder bacterial decay in the water and throughout the sediment column. forest fires.Organic Facies . at very high accumulation rate dilution may become a more important factor than increased preservation. In fact. Coals also accumulate very rapidly and. renders it of little nutritional value. lignitic. as a result of more rapid removal of organic material from the zone of microbial diagenesis. and other oxidative processes. Organic matter of algal (phytoplanktonic) origin is consumed more readily by organisms than are other types of organic material. especially in structural (woody) material. Near-shore oxidizing facies sometimes have high TOC values. Coals are important source rocks for gas accumulations. much of the organic material that does reach the bottom in deep waters arrives in relatively large fecal pellets. The net result is a reduction in TOC values. cellulosic. Most depositional settings not specifically catalogued above will be more or less well oxygenated. Rapid deposition of inorganic detritus is common in turbidites and in prodelta shales. Rapid sedimentation and burial con also enhance preservation. TYPE OF ORGANIC MATTER. very slow sedimentation rates. or resinous material. or organic material. TOC values increase as sediment-accumulation rates increase. provide an ideal means of maintaining low-oxygen conditions. Oxic Settings. Abyssal sediments are notoriously low in organic carbon as the result of the combined effects of high oxygen levels in abyssal waters. thus preventing extensive diagenesis of such material. Nitrogen and phosphorus are in particular demand. and low productivity in the overlying pelagic realm. because extensive decomposition occurs during its fall to the ocean floor. biogenic inorganic sediment. their virtual absence in much terrestrial organic material. Dilution does not reduce the total amount of organic matter preserved. Rapid burial is accomplished by a high influx of inorganic detritus. That material which remains is dominantly of terrestrial origin. Any extensive organic diagenesis is therefore likely to eliminate algal organic matter first. and may include woody. but it does spread that organic material through a larger volume of rock. but their supposedly low potential for generating oil is to be reconsidered. It may also contain very resistent organic debris derived from erosion of ancient rocks. Rapid settling of organic debris through the water column is also important. . the phenolic components present in lignin-derived terrestrial material are toxic to many micro-organism. The extremely high accumulation rates for biogenic carbonates and siliceous sediments in zones of high productivity promote preservation of the associated algal protoplasm. but the organic material is almost invariably woody.11 develops within the sediments rather than in the water column. and therefore wi11 contain primarily oxidized organic matter. with their high concentrations of organic matter. because its chemical components are digestible and provide precisely the nutrients required by scavengers and predators. which settle several orders of magnitude faster than individual phytoplankton. DILUTION Although high sediment-accumulation rates enhance preservation of organic matter. The hydrocarbon-source potential of all of these oxidizing facies is low. Furthermore. RAPID SEDIMENTATION AND BURIAL. all of which are chemically quite distinct from each other. and more favorable for gas than for oil.
Productivity can be predicted by locating ancient sites of marine upwellings. however. Models that integrate the concepts of organic richness with depositional cycles and facies analysis will be valuable tools for understanding hydrocarbon systems in basins. Consequently. Biogenic sediments. It is often very difficult to separate the influences of these various factors in a particular depositional environment. a strongly developed oxygen-minimum layer. To derive maximum value from our analyses. .and atmospheric-circulation patterns. including stagnancy or near-stagnancy. in contrast. preservation is generally the most important. There are a number of mechanisms by which oxygen depletion may be fostered and maintained.12 Dilution effects depend upon rock lithology. however. Our ability to make accurate predictions is limited. Some of the commonly applied criteria are apt to be misleading.Organic Facies . anoxia in bottom waters is a phenomenon whose effects we should learn to recognize in ancient rocks. effectiveness of preservation. where sediment-accumulation rates are directly proportional to organic-carbon-accumulation rates. and a very imperfect understanding of oceanic. in which the organic and inorganic materials arrive together. such events were often interrupted for long periods before anoxia was reinduced. dilution effects may lead to lower TOC values in spite of enhanced preservation rates. If the rapidly accumulating sediment is mainly clastic. Rapid accumulation of sediment shortens the residence time of organic matter in the zone of diagenesis and thus promotes preservation. Of these. SUMMARY There are three principal factors that affect the amount of organic matter in sedimentary rocks: primary photosynthetic productivity. are not as strongly affected by dilution. we should always strive to place the organic rich rocks in the larger context of basin evolution through time and space. Preservation is best accomplished where oxygen is excluded from bottom waters. In biogenic sediments or coals. as a result of high productivity or sluggish circulation. Shales. show strong dilution effects when accumulation rates are very high. however. and dilution by inorganic material. Although certain periods undeniably contain more than their share of anoxic rocks. dilution is far less marked. Direct control of the anoxia was thus probably local. It is important to be able to distinguish local anoxia or anoxia developed deep within sediments from anoxia induced by anoxic bottom waters. Because of its role in creating rocks with excellent hydrocarbon-source potential. As in the modern oceans. The most reliable criteria for bottom-water anoxia are the preservation of fine depositional laminae. 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. and rapid burial. lack of knowledge of seawater chemistry and nutrient availability at those times. Anoxic events in the past were probably not as large in scale or as long lasting as some workers have suggested. in contrast. anoxic sediments were deposited discontinuously through time and space. Facies changes from carbonates to shales may create large dilution effects that can be wrongly interpreted as indicating changes in oxygen levels. such models are not yet of much practical value for the distant past.
and organic geochemistry the study of organic compounds present in geological environments. and nitrogen. every carbon atom forms four bonds. carbonates. Examples of hydrocarbons are methane. Similarly. In each of these compounds. Writing the detailed structure of a simple molecule like methane is no problem. Petroleum and natural gas are themselves often referred to as "hydrocarbons. trace metals. In this chapter we restrict the usage of the term hydrocarbon to the standard chemical one. are termed organic. One common convention is to represent all the hydrogen atoms attached to a given carbon atom by a single H. except carbon dioxide. Several different types of shorthand have therefore developed to facilitate drawing organic molecules. as it does in the real world. Carbon atoms like to form bonds with each other. sulfur. creating long chains and ring structures. oxygen. and indeed in every carbon compound (except a few highly unstable ones created only in laboratories). whose structures are shown below. and other elements. in which one must also learn all the reactions of many classes of compounds. The structures of methane and ethane are thus represented by CH4 and CH3CH3 respectively. oxygen and sulfer. This objective is very different trom that of a normal course in organic chemistry. and metal carbides. elsewhere in this text usage will vary. This unique property of carbon is responsible for the existence of literally millions of different organic compounds. hydrogen always forms one bond. the explicit inclusion of every atom and every bond becomes extremely tedious." but that usage is incorrect trom the chemist's point of view because those materials often contain substantial amounts of nitrogen.13 3 .Organic Chemistry INTRODUCTION Anyone who uses petroleum geochemistry must be familiar with basic chemical terminology. We can make other logical simplifications for longer carbon chains. ethane. All compounds containing carbon atoms. especially if one has to do it only occasionally. . Organic chemistry is thus the study of carboncontaining compounds. If one wants to draw large molecules. using a subscript on the H to denote the total number of hydrogens around that atom.Organic Chemistry . The chemical reactions of interest to us are very few and are discussed only briefly. two bonds. This usage is historical and does not imply that all such compounds are necessarily derived from living organisms. The following representations of n-pentane are equivalent: CH3CH2CH2CH2CH3 or CH3(CH2)3CH3. and cyclohexane. 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. NAMES AND STRUCTURES HYDROCARBONS In chemical terms a hydrocarbon is a compound containing only the elements carbon and hydrogen. three bonds. however.
Isoprenoids ranging in length from six to forty carbon atoms have been found in petroleum and rocks.Organic Chemistry . the names of the other nine simplest n-alkanes are given in the following table. Among the most important branched hydrocarbons in organic geochemistry are the isoprenoids. ethyl and propyl). are able to combine with additional hydrogen. Other adjectival forms are made by dropping the -ane ending and adding yl (for example. The zigzag configuration illustrated for n-pentane is adopted to show clearly each carbon atom. We have ahready encountered n-pentane. these molecules are called n-alkanes or nparains. Because we know that each carbon atom forms four bonds and each hydrogen atom forms one bond. Hydrogen atoms and bonds to hydrogen atoms are not shown at all. The letter n stands for normal. In the case of 2methylhexane (C7H16) the basic structure is hexane. no more hydrogen can be incorporated into the molecule without breaking it apart. and carbon-carbon bonds are shown as lines connecting those points. as in "alkane. Another important group of hydrocarbons is the unsaturates. a CH3 (methyl) group is attached to the second carbon atom. All the compounds mentioned above are called saturated hydrocarbons or saturates. For example. in contrast." The first four names are irregular. The simplest series of hydrocarbons has linear structures. but the prefixes denoting the number of carbon atoms in the other alkanes are derived from Greek numbers. giving rise to a vast number of possible structures. These cyclic compounds (called naphthenes) are named by counting the number of carbon atoms in the ring and attaching the prefix cyclo. because they are saturated with respect to hydrogen. is the adjectival form of the word methane. and indicates that there is no branching in the carbon chain. We have also seen that carbon atoms can be arranged in rings. n-pentane and cyclohexane are represented by the line structures shown below. Branching can occur. Each carbon atom is represented by a point. which we used earlier. Many unsaturated compounds have carbon-carbon double . That is. 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. simple inspection shows how mant' hydrogen atoms each carbon atom must have. Regular isoprenoids consist of a straight chain of carbon atoms with a methyl branch on every fourth carbon.14 An even quicker shorthand that uses no letters at all has evolved. The term methyl. which. Note that the name of each compound ends in -ane.
They are named in a similar manner to the alkanes. The extreme case is graphite. highly aromatic materials of . Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons having fused ring structures are quite common. sulfur. Many of the heterocompounds present in organisms are converted to hydrocarbons during diagenesis and catagenesis. nitrogen. and oxygen. or other elements. some complex hydrocarbons that are found in fossil organic material can be related directly to individual biological precursors. the compounds in which they occur are called heterocompounds. bitumen.15 bonds. At first glance aromatics appear to be nothing more than cyclic alkenes containing several double bonds. and cyclohexene (C6H10). In fact. these compounds are called alkenes. A simplified notation for drawing these molecules permits us to represent the double-bond system by a circle within the ring. Because alkenes are highly reactive.Organic Chemistry . By hydrogenation ethene thus reacts to form ethane. It is this delocalization of electrons which makes aromatic compounds very stable. they do not add hydrogen easily. Aromatics possess a system of alternating single and double bonds within a cyclic structure. The circle indicates that the electrons in the double bonds are delocalized. The hydrocarbons we discussed so far are relatively simple molecules. these compounds are quite different trom the majority of the organic molecules found in living organisms. Some aromatic molecules are very large. converts alkenes to alkanes and cyclic compounds during diagenesis. including hydrogenafion. propene (C3H6). Heterocompounds are also called NSO compounds. the majority contain oxygen. except that the ending -ene indicates the presence of a double bond. phosphorus. The hydrocarbons present in petroleum are mostly the end products of extensive degradation of biogenic molecules. Their stability permits aromatics to be important constituents of oils and sediments. sulfur. but they actually have completely different chemical properties from alkenes and are unusually stable. Although they are very important constituents of petroleum. Most biological molecules are larger and more complex than the simple hydrocarbons. and kerogen are called heteroatoms. they are free to move throughout the cyclic system instead of being held between two particular carbon atoms. because the most common heteroatoms are nitrogen. which is an almost-endless sheet of aromatic rings. Aromatics form an extremely important class of unsaturated hydrocarbons. that is. Examples are ethene (C2H4) . the structures of which are shown below. which are large. of which some are biogenic and others are formed during diagenesis. Among the most important NSO compounds are the asphaltenes. In the laboratory they are readily converted to alkanes by the addition of hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst. Fossil organic matter often contains a vide variety of heterocompounds. they do not long persist in geologic environments. NONHYDROCARBONS Atoms other than hydrogen and carbon that occur in petroleum. A variety of reactions. Many common NSO compounds are not directly related to biogenic precursors. Although they are unsaturated.
carbohydrates. but asphaltene molecules are smaller and more aromatic than most kerogens.000 atomic mass units. Lignin and cellulose are major constituents of humic coals. They are rapidly metabolized by virtually all organisms.Organic Chemistry . the latter is the most abundant organic compound in the biosphere. and amino acids. most carbohydrates are attacked readily by microorganisms. Upon decomposition lignin forms phenolic compounds. and thus tends to become concentrated as other organic matter is decomposed. Carbohydrates include starch. Like lignin. lignin is rather resistant to degradation. and thus are seldom preserved in sediments (exceptions occur in shell material and in bones. Although cellulose is quite resistant to decomposition under some conditions. and cellulose. it is an important constituent of terrestrial organic matter.16 varying structure. where small amounts of preserved amino acids can be used to date specimens) . which are aromatics having a hydroxyl group (OH) attached. It is a polymer consisting of many repetitions and combinations of three basic aromatic subunits. however. sugars. Lignin is an important component of wood. providing much of the structural support for large land plants. They have many characteristics in common with kerogen. Many nonhydrocarbon molecules common to living organisms are also present in sediments. Among these are lignin. Lignin monomers are linked topether to form molecules having molecular weights from 3000 to 10. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Because phenols are potent bactericides.
Kerogen composition is also affected by thermal maturation processes (catagenesis and metagenesis) that alter the original kerogen. During the course of diagenesis in the water column. The detailed chemistry of kerogen formation need not concern us greatly. The smallest of these geopolymers are usually called fulvic acids. because it has patchwork structures formed by the random combination of many small molecular fragments. A basic understanding of how kerogen is formed and transformed in the subsurface is therefore important in understanding how and where hydrocarbons are generated. strongly influence the ability of the kerogen to generate oil and gas. oil. slightly larger ones. and less regular in structure. True kerogens. 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.Kerogen INTRODUCTION Kerogen is normally defined as that portion of the organic matter present in sedimentary rocks that is insoluble in ordinary organic solvents. Lack of solubility is a direct result of the large size of kerogen molecules.Kerogen . when the chemical and biological destruction and transformation of organic tissues begin. which have molecular weights of several thousand or more. whether these hydrocarbons are mainly oil or gas. which are reflected in their chemical and physical properties. and natural gas. large molecules that have no regular or biologically defined structure. will be discussed in a following chapter. KEROGEN FORMATION The process of kerogen formation actually begins during senescence of organisms. and ammonia from the original geopolymers. Algal (boghead) coals are formed in environments where the source phytoplankton lack both calcareous and siliceous skeletal components. more complex. Each kerogen molecule is unique. The residual kerogens also undergo important changes. called bitumen. Coals are a subcategory of kerogen. Oil shales. carbon dioxide. These geopolymers are the precursors for kerogen but are not yet true kerogens. and how much oil or gas can be expected. in contrast. the geopolymers become larger. and still larger ones. If anaerobic sulfate . having very high molecular weights. 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. Coals and oil shales should therefore be viewed merely as sedimentary rocks containing special types of kerogens in very high concentrations. as well as the nature of the organic matter from which it was formed. Subsurface heating causes chemical reactions that break off small fragments of the kerogen as oil or gas molecules. Large organic biopolymers of highly regular structure (proteins and carbohydrates. develop after tens or hundreds of meters of burial. humins. Humic coals are best thought of as kerogens formed mainly from landplant material without codeposition of much mineral matter. humic acids. soils. and the individual component parts are either destroyed or used to construct new geopolymers. as well as dispersed organic matter in sedimentary rocks. Diagenesis results mainly in loss of water. for example) are partially or completely dismantled. have more mineral matter than algal coals. Today it is used to describe the insoluble organic material in both coals and oil shales. with some of the inorganic matrix often being contributed by the algae themselves. The term kerogen was originally coined to describe the organic matter in oil shales that yielded oil upon retorting. and sediments. 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. Diagenetic and catagenetic histories of a kerogen.17 4 . The soluble portion.
Most organic oxidation in sedimentary environments is microbially mediated.Kerogen . Subsequent investigations have identified Type IV kerogen as well. is developing a general method of describing gross kerogen composition and relating it to hydrocarbon-generative capacity. The four types of kerogen. In a low-oxygen (reducing) environment. the macerals that they are composed of. In an oxidizing environment many of the small biogenic molecules will be attacked by bacteria before they can form geopolymers. and III) and have studied the chemical characteristics and the nature of the organisms from which all types of kerogens were derived. Microorganisms prefer to attack small molecules that are biogenic.18 reduction is occurring in the sediments. What is within our reach. it would not be of great and direct significance to exploration geologists. are converted into saturated or cyclic structures. therefore. About a decade ago workers at the French Petroleum Institute developed a useful scheme for describing kerogens that is still the standard today. large amounts of sulfur may become incorporated into the kerogen structure. Carboncarbon double bonds. Kerogen formation competes with the destruction of organic matter by oxidative processes. and ultimately of much greater practical value. in contrast. which are highly reactive. the subdued level of bacterial activity allows more time for the formation of geopolymers and. Even if such a description were possible. Kerogens formed under reducing conditions will be composed of fragments of many kinds of biogenic molecules. Geopolymers are more or less immune to bacterial degradation. II. and if the sediments are depleted in heavy-metal ions (which is often the case in nonclastic sediments but is seldom true in shales). Those kerogens formed under oxidizing conditions. 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. . They identified three main types of kerogen (called Types I. One way that we can begin is by classifying kerogens into a few general types. KEROGEN COMPOSITION Because each kerogen molecule is unique. or at least look very much like biogenic molecules. contain mainly the most resistant types of biogenic molecules that were ignored by microorganisms during diagenesis. in contrast. better organic preservation. and their organic precursors Transformation of organic material in sediments and sedimentary rocks. it is somewhat fruitless to attempt a detailed discussion of the chemical composition of kerogens.
Type I kerogens have high generative capacities for liquid hydrocarbons. Occurrences of Type I kerogens are limited to anoxic lakes and to a few unusual marine environments. successively. pollen and spores. They also include contributions from bacterial-cell lipids. and fossil resin. from Wyoming.19 Type I kerogen is quite rare because it is derived principally from lacustrine algae. despite their very disparate origins. Type IV kerogens. contain far less oxygen because they were formed from oxygen-poor lipid materials. Type II (liptinitic) kerogens are also high in hydrogen. have the lowest hydrogen contents. 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. The various Type II kerogens are grouped together.Kerogen . and Colorado. Type I and Type II kerogens. Type IV kerogens are highly oxidized and therefore contain large amounts of oxygen. In the immature state. Type II kerogens arise from several very different sources. Type I (algal) kerogens have the highest hydrogen contents because they have few rings or aromatic structures. Type IV kerogens contain mainly reworked organic debris and highly oxidized material of various origins. Heteroatom contents of kerogens also vary with kerogen type. are normally considered to generate mainly gas. which mainly contain polycyclic aromatic systems. of middle Eocene age. in contrast. unless they have small inclusions of Type II material. and carbohydrates. phenols. including marine algae. Type III kerogens have high oxygen contents because they are formed from lignin. Type III kerogens have much lower hydrocarbon-generative capacities than do Type II kerogens and. . cellulose. Type III kerogens are composed of terrestrial organic material that is lacking in fatty or waxy components. They are generally considered to have essentially no hydrocarbon-source potential. and metagenesis. The shaded areas approximately represent diagenesis. Type III (humic) kerogens. The best-known example is the Green River Shale. Utah. Cellulose and lignin are major contributors. Most Type II kerogens are found in marine sediments deposited under reducing conditions. Hydrogen contents of immature kerogens (expressed as atomic H/C ratios) correlate with kerogen type. have lower hydrogen contents because they contain extensive aromatic systems. because they all have great capacities to generate liquid hydrocarbons. catagenesis. Van Krevelen diagram showing maturation pathways for Types 1 to IV kerogens as traced by changes in atomic HIC and OIC ratios. leaf waxes.
Catagenesis refers to transformations of kerogen molecules. which occurs after catagenesis. By convention the term catagenesis usually refers to the stages of kerogen decomposition during which oil and wet gas are produced. the materials from which a maceral was derived. metagenesis is not equivalent to "metamorphism. KEROGEN MATURATION INTRODUCTION Very important changes. 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. Despite its name. It is possible to make a reasonably good correlation between kerogen type based on chemical characteristics and kerogen type based on visual appearance. Although the terms catagenesis and oil generation are often used synonymously. however. Catagenesis and hydrocarbon generation occur concurrently.Kerogen . nonclastic sediments). The different types of kerogen particles are called macerals." Metagenesis begins long before true rock metamorphism. they represent fundamentally different perspectives. The kerogen in a given sedimentary rock includes many individual particles that are often derived from a variety of sources. in contrast. The small molecules eventually become petroleum and natural gas. wherever possible. however. they are to kerogen what minerals are to a rock. is derived mainly from sulfate that was reduced by anaerobic bacteria. 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. especially when we are discussing both aspects simultaneously. which is destroyed rapidly during diagenesis. marine. in some cases. In many cases the original cellular structure is still recognizable. In others the original fabric has disappeared completely. Thermal decomposition reactions. Kerogen types are defined by the morphologies of the kerogen particles. In this text we shall use the terms somewhat interchangeably. Most high-nitrogen kerogens were therefore deposited under anoxic conditions where diagenesis was severely limited. Sulfur is only incorporated into kerogens in large quantities where sulfate reduction is extensive and where Fe +2 ions are absent (organic-rich. proving the origin of the particle. but it also continues through the metamorphic stage. Many high-sulfur kerogens are also high in nitrogen. because there is not a perfect biological separation of the various types of living organic matter. Macerals are essentially organic minerals. they are not precisely equivalent. anoxic. interrelated. called catagenesis and metagenesis. Maceral names were developed by coal petrologists to describe. Thus few kerogens consist of a single maceral type. forcing us to make assumptions about the source organisms. Microscopic organic analysis has reached a fairly high level of refinement and is often capable of assessing kerogen type with good accuracy. because fresh waters are usually low in sulfate. Nitrogen is derived mainly from proteinaceous material. . Metagenesis. The correspondence is not perfect. called maturation. but they really represent different aspects of the same process. occur when a kerogen is subjected to high temperatures over long periods of time. whereas hydrocarbon generation focuses on the production of hydrocarbon molecules. Because lignins and carbohydrates contain little nitrogen. The biggest problem comes in identifying Type III kerogen.20 Sulfur and nitrogen contents of kerogens are also variable and. a term taken trom coal petrology. represents drygas generation. A list of the most common macerals and their precursors is given in the table presented earlier in this chapter. In principle. Kerogen sulfur. most terrestrially influenced kerogens are low in nitrogen. break off small molecules and leave behind a more resistant kerogen residue. High-sulfur kerogens (and coals) are almost always associated with marine deposition.
high-sulfur oils found in a number of areas.21 This chapter will focus on those changes in the residual kerogen that accompany catagenesis. because time also plays a role. Nitrogen and sulfur are also lost from kerogens during catagenesis. Chemical reaction-rate theory requires that the rates of reactions decrease as temperature decreases. thus allowing us to judge the extent to which kerogen maturation has proceeded. For practical purposes. and gas) will be discussed in a following chapter. The most important implication of these chemical changes is that the remaining hydrocarbongenerative capacity of a kerogen decreases 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. the rates of catagenesis are generally not important at temperatures below about 70° C. Old rocks will often generate hydrocarbons at significantly lower temperatures than young rocks. It is impossible to set precise and universal temperature limits for catagenesis. including the Miocene Monterey Formation of southern California. 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. the cracking of any organic molecule requires hydrogen. There is a steady color progression yellow-goldenorange-light brown-dark brownblack as a result of polymerization and aromatization reactions. Some of these changes can be measured quantitatively. In the late stages of maturity. provided that the hydrogen content of the kerogen was known prior to the onset of catagenesis. but it also states that at any temperature above absolute zero reactions will be occurring at some definable rate. Furthermore. There is therefore no necessary cause-and-effect relationship . after hydrogen loss is well advanced. Kerogen particles become darker during catagenesis and metagenesis. the chemical process of maturation never stops completely. Kerogen maturation is not a reversible process-any more than baking a cake is reversible. much as a cookie browns during baking. 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. 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. The real reason for following kerogen catagenesis. but they are not necessarily identical with hydrocarbon generation. Because many of the light product molecules are rich in hydrogen. All kerogens become increasingly aromatic and depleted in hydrogen and oxygen during thermal maturation. and III kerogens will therefore be very similar chemically. is to monitor hydrocarbon generation. and thus are not necessarily valid indicators of hydrocarbon generation. even if drastic decreases in temperature occur. Types I. Furthermore. These reactions are intimately related to important changes in the chemical structure of kerogen. as evidenced by low maturity. the more hydrocarbons it can yield during cracking. however. Although it is obvious that many measurable changes in kerogens are related to hydrocarbon generation. II. In contrast. The more hydrogen a kerogen contains. As we saw earlier. of course. simply because the longer time available compensates for lower temperatures. Nitrogen loss occurs primarily during late catagenesis or metagenesis. This complex interplay between the effects of time and temperature on maturity is discussed in a later chapter. much of the sulfur is lost in the earliest stages of catagenesis. The composition of the products (bitumen. the residual kerogen gradually becomes more aromatic and hydrogen poor as catagenesis proceeds.Kerogen . oil. EFFECTS OF MATURATION ON KEROGENS Kerogen undergoes important and detectable changes during catagenesis and metagenesis.
somewhat beyond the oil-generation window. and which can be used to gauge the extent of molecular reorganization. Cracking often produces free radicals. Kerogens. has been widely and successfully applied in assessing kerogen maturity. Half a century ago coal petrologists discovered that the percentage of light reflected by vitrinite particles could be correlated with coal rank measured by other methods. The concentration of free radicals in a given kerogen has been found to increase with increasing maturity. HYDROCARBON GENERATION As kerogen catagenesis occurs. the technique. Some of these are hydrocarbons. small molecules are broken off the kerogen matrix. The difference between the two curves represents bitumen expelled from the rock or cracked to light hydrocarbons. contain large numbers of unpaired electrons.Kerogen . called vitrinite reflectance. because the flat aromatic sheets can stack neatly. and because vitrinite particles also occur in kerogens. is the ability of kerogen particles to reflect incident light coherently. is that some of the bitumen is expelled from the source rock or cracked to gas. there would be a large and continuous build-up of bitumen in the rock as a result of catagenetic decomposition of kerogen. The more random a kerogen's structure. What actually occurs. its structure becomes more ordered. One property that is strongly affected. These structural reorganizations bring about changes in physical properties of kerogens. These small compounds are much more mobile than the kerogen molecules and are the direct precursors of oil and gas. while others are small heterocompounds. Some properties of kerogen change very little during catagenesis. and the less it will be reflected. If neither expulsion from the source rock nor cracking of bitumen occurred. which are unpaired electrons not yet involved in chemical honds. the more an incident light beam will be scattered. As kerogen matures and becomes more aromatic. the visual appearance of kerogen also does not change during catagenesis: kerogen types are generally recognizable until the particles become black and opaque. and no guarantee that a particular kerogen color always heralds the onset of oil generation. Plot of bitumen generation as a function of maturity (dashed fine) compared to bitumen remaining in rock (solid line).22 between kerogen darkening and hydrocarbon generation. Both curves are highly . A general name tor these molecules is bitumen. Except for darkening. Free-radical concentrations can be measured by electron-spin resonance. resulting in lower bitumen contents in the source. Because coal rank is merely a measure of coal maturity. during metagenesis the chief product is methane. Bitumen generation occurs mainly during catagenesis. For example. Kerogens often fluoresce when irradiated. especially highly aromatic ones. The intensity and wavelength of the fluorescente are functions of kerogen maturity. carbon-isotopic compositions of kerogens are affected little by maturation. however.
Conversely. Rich rocks will become overpressured earlier than lean ones and thus will also expel hydrocarbons earlier. The chemical composition and morphology of kerogen macerals depend both on the type of original organic matter and on diagenetic transformations.Kerogen . Timing and efficiency of expulsion depend on a number of factors. It has become apparent in recent years that not all kerogens generate hydrocarbons at the same catagenetic levels. which in turn is partly attributed to hydrocarbon generation itself. however. but none of these measurements is closely linked to the actual process of hydrocarbon generation. this result is hardly surprising. SUMMARY Kerogen begins to form during early diagenesis. we cannot always define the limits of hydrocarbon generation with great confidence. because natural variations among samples cause much scatter in experimental data. We shall consider the latter briefly here. 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. including rock physics and organic-geochemical considerations. Effective generation of hydrocarbons requires that the generated products be expelled from the source-rock matrix and migrated to a trap. hydrogen-poor. . In very lean rocks expulsion may occur so late that cracking of the generated bitumen is competitive with expulsion. when large geopolymers are created from biological molecules. The chemical composition of a kerogen controls the timing of hydrocarbon generation and the type of products obtained. Kerogens formed from resinite will generate condensates or light oils quite early. Other kerogens usually follow a more traditional model. High-sulfur kerogens generate heavy.23 idealized. as measured by parameters such as vitrinite reflectance. Thus. Given the significant chemical differences among the various types of kerogens. Candidates for early expulsion would be very organic rich rocks and those containing resinite or high-sulfur kerogens. Numerous methods exist for tracing the history of a kerogen and determining its original chemical and physical characteristics. Resinite consists of polymerized terpanes (ten-carbon isoprenoids) that can decompose easily by reversing the polymerization process. Several methods exist for estimating the extent to which hydrocarbon generation has occurred in a given kerogen. In such cases the expelled products will be mainly gas. Many workers now believe that microfracturing of source rocks is very important tor hydrocarbon expulsion. Source rocks that generate large amounts of hydrocarbons early are likely to expel those hydrocarbons early. Kerogens formed from lipid-rich organic material are likely to generate liquid hydrocarbons. Microfracturing is related to overpressuring. residual kerogen as well as small molecules that are the direct precursors for petroleum and natural gas. high-sulfur oils at low levels of maturity. although we know that oil generation does occur during the phase we call catagenesis. those rocks that generate few hydrocarbons may not expel them until they have been cracked to gas. Catagenesis of kerogen produces a more aromatic. whereas those kerogens that contain few lipids will generate mainly gas. Sulfur-rich kerogens decompose easily because carbon-sulfur hbonds are weaker than any bonds in sulfur-poor kerogens.
Few of these heterocompounds have been studied carefully. Such correlations can be particularly useful in establishing genetic relationships among samples. variously called polars. Both bitumens and petroleums exhibit a wide range of compositions. triterpanes. Most of the NSO compounds appear in the remaining two fractions. Much of this variety is related to source-rock facies and the composition of the kerogens that generated the bitumens. n-alkanes. However. are more commonly studied. bitumen is almost universally accepted as the direct precursor for petroleum. but they also exhibit many important differences. The large sizes of asphaltene units render . we must separate the characteristics related to kerogen composition from those related to the transformation of bitumen to petroleum and from those related to changes occurring in reservoirs. and how much is due to physical separation of chemical compounds having very different properties. but these compounds are lost from bitumens during evaporation of the solvent used in extracting the bitumen from the rock. Light aromatic hydrocarbons. Bitumen and petroleum compositions can also be used as tools in correlating samples with each other. and steranes. we first separate a crude oil or a bitumen into several fractions having distinct properties. The lighter of these fractions. many unanswered questions remain about the processes that transform bitumen into petroleum. The influence of the lithologies of source and reservoir rocks on these compositional changes is poorly understood. Major compositional changes occur in going from bitumen to petroleum. NSOs. COMPOUNDS PRESENT IN BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM GENERAL CLASSES OF COMPOUNDS Both bitumen and petroleum contain a very large number of different chemical compounds. and Natural Gas INTRODUCTION Petroleum obtained from reservoir rocks and bitumen extracted from fine-grained rocks have many similarities. A second fraction consists of aromatic hydrocarbons and some light sulfur-containing compounds. branched hydrocarbons (including isoprenoids). Maturity also exerts control over bitumen and petroleum composition. have been studied in petroleums. however. and form complexes with molecular weights of perhaps 50.24 Bitumen. like benzene and toluene. We also do not know how much of the change involves chemical reactions. and cyclics. Reservoir transformations in some cases greatly affect oil composition and properties.000. while others are only trace contributors. Each of the fractions contains certain types of chemical compounds. Heavier aromatic and naphthenoaromatic hydrocarbons. indeed. particularly those derived from diterpanes. This chapter will compare and contrast bitumen and petroleum compositions and examine the factors responsible for the observed differences. One fraction consists mainly of saturated hydrocarbons. highly aromatic asphaltene molecules that are often rich in heteroatoms. Some of these are present in relatively large quantities. Petroleum. Asphaltenes tend to aggregate into stacks because of their planarity. and resins. and Natural Gas - 5 .Bitumen. In order to investigate the individual compounds present. Petroleum. There is no doubt that they are related. The final fraction contains very large. In order to understand bitumen and petroleum compositions and to use them for exploration. but we are not certain whether they occur mainly within the source rock or during migration through the reservoir rock. Saturated hydrocarbons are the most thoroughly studied of the components of petroleum and bitumen because they are the easiest to work with analytically. contains a wide variety of small and medium-sized molecules with one or more heteroatoms.
25. Carbon Preference Index. Other compounds. In contrast. the lower-carbon homologs are given more weight in the calculation. especially 23. Their n-alkane distributions reflect this mix. although we know for certain that the biomarker molecule is biogenic.) Even-carbon preferences occur principally in evaporitic and carbonate sediments. They are. However. receive contributions of n-alkanes from both terrestrial and marine sources. or members of the n-alkane series. of biological origin. and by their catagenetic formation from long-chain compounds such as fatty acids and alcohols. The average of two ranges is taken to minimize bias produced by the generally decreasing n-alkane concentrations with increasing number of carbon atoms. These compounds. we are unable to use it as an "index fossil" for specific organisms. SPECIFIC COMPOUNDS Biomarkers. 29. If the number of odd.Bitumen. an abbreviation for biological markers. and no preference for either odd.0.and even-carbon members is equal. or CPI. such as pentane or propane. Because of their molecular complexity and heterogeneity. Petroleum. In most cases. of course. Sediments are also known that exhibit a strong preference for n-alkanes having an even number of carbon atoms. or of the diagenetic conditions under which the organic matter was buried. Their high concentration in bitumens and oils is best explained by their existence in plant and algal lipids. 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. Many sediments. Asphaltenes can thus be removed from oils or bitumens in the laboratory or refinery by adding a light hydrocarbon. 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. whereas in other instances we may be able to limit the possible precursors to only a few species. and 31 atoms. because the concentration of n-alkanes often decreases with increasing carbon number.25 them insoluble in light solvents. and Natural Gas . The distributions are quite sharp. Another important indication of the origin of n-alkanes is the distribution of individual homologs. CPI values can therefore . however. the CPI is greater than 1. 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. The most useful biomarkers serve as indicators of the organisms from which the bitumen or petroleum was derived. where input of terrestrial n-alkanes is minimal and diagenetic conditions are highly reducing. asphaltene molecules have not been studied in detail. depending upon the species present. Many of the compounds and classes of compounds that we find in crude oils and bitumens are called biomarkers. If odd-carbon homologs predominate. For the most part n-alkanes present in terrestrial plants have odd numbers of carbon atoms.or even-carbon homologs is evident. but their sources are simply no longer recognizable due to diagenetic and catagenetic transformations.0. which are derived from biogenic precursor molecules. the CPI is 1. 27. however. FACTORS AFFECTING COMPOSITION OF BITUMEN AND PETROLEUM SOURCE AND DIAGENESIS Biomarkers n-Alkanes were among the first biomarkers to be studied extensively. 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). (Among the acids and alcohols present in living organisms. even-carbon homologs predominate as strongly as do the oddcarbon homologs among the n-alkanes.
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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.
particularly along lines of weakness such as bedding planes. where they can be preserved over long periods of time. Based on empirical evidence. Its importance is probably limited to the edges of thick units or to thin source beds. Momper's value has been widely accepted as a reasonable average. but will describe the most widely held views on the dominant mechanisms of primary and secondary migration and accumulation. expulsion.Migration DEFINITIONS Migration is the movement of oil and gas within the subsurface. lowpermeability source rock into a carrier bed having much greater permeability. Accumulation is the concentration of migrated hydrocarbons in a relatively immobile configuration. 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. it involves expulsion of hydrocarbons from their fine-grained. and overpressuring commences anew. we must look at each of these steps separately. One occurs most commonly as a result of microfracturing induced by overpressuring during hydrocarbon generation. and pressure release can be repeated. The hydrocarbons within the pores then become isolated again because of the impermeability of the waterwet source rocks to hydrocarbons. 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. Although the exact threshold value must vary considerably as a function of rock lithology and other factors. The main problem with diffusion as an important mechanism of migration is that diffusion is by definition a dispersive force. it is probably most effective in immature rocks. microfracturing occurs. By far the most popular mechanism invoked today to explain primary migration is expulsion of hydrocarbons in a hydrophobic (oily) phase. oil-phase expulsion. In order to understand the complex sequence of events that we call migration. During intense hydrocarbon generation. Furthermore.Migration . Traps are the means by which migration is stopped and accumulation occurs. whereas accumulation of hydrocarbons requires concentration. This chapter wi11 not go into the physics and chemistry of migration in detail. Laminated source rocks may therefore expel hydrocarbons with greater efficiency than massive rocks. Many cycles of pressure buildup.29 6 . An important implication of the microfracturing model is that expulsion cannot take place until the strength of the source rock has been exceeded. Today there are only three mechanisms of primary migration that are given serious consideration by most petroleum geochemists: diffusion. Diffusion has been shown to be active on at least a minor scale and over short distances in carefully studied cores. Once the internal pressure has returned to normal. Each of these steps is quite distinct from the others. but those that have been discounted will not be discussed here. the microfractures heal. microfracturing. PRIMARY MIGRATION MECHANISMS Many theories about primary migration (expulsion) have been popular at various times. Primary migration is the first phase of the migration process. Diffusion would therefore have to be coupled with a powerful concentrating force to yield accumulations of appreciable size. and solution in gas. When the internal pressures exceed the strength of the rock. . Secondary migration is the movement of oil and gas within this carrier bed. any contribution by diffusion will be overwhelmed by that from other expulsion mechanisms.
upward. where they do exist. Thus a source rock lying between two sands will expel hydrocarbons into both carrier beds. but it does give some idea of the efficiency of expulsion. therefore." We can only estimate the fraction of the bitumen left in the source rock during microfractureinduced expulsion. most of the hydrocarbons are expelled. Because the driving force for microfracture-induced primary migration is pressure release. it would be expected only in the late stages of catagenesis or in source rocks capable of generating mainly gas. also make excellent secondary-migration pathways. Therefore. primary migration may be of poor efficiency. In most cases hydrocarbons are generated within short distances of viable secondary-migration conduits. As soon as easier paths become available. particularly in brittle carbonate and opal-chert source rocks. Of course. . By comparing the average hydrocarbon compositions of bitumen and crude oil. The third mechanism. this approach is rather approximate. Because the source rock is overpressured. Massive. Thus inefficiency of expulsion is responsible for much of the difference in composition of bitumen and petroleum that we noted earlier. requires that there be a separate gas phase. expulsion can be lateral. Primary migration is difficult and slow.30 Once the threshold has been exceeded. Expulsion of hydrocarbons is facilitated because water-mineral and water-water interactions no longer need be overcome. but the mechanism by which overpressuring is achieved is not understood. hydrocarbons will be expelled in any direction that offers a lower pressure than that in the source rock. or downward. Therefore the threshold must represent not only a hurdle to be cleared by the bitumen before it can leave the source rock. this early expulsion mechanism seems to be limited to rocks having very high original contents of lipids. Finally. but a large proportion of NSO compounds and heavier hydrocarbons are left behind. Primary migration is unquestionably the most difficult part of the entire migration process. 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. oil-phase expulsion can take place when bitumen forms a continuous network that replaces water as the wetting agent in the source rock. expulsion of oil dissolved in gas. DISTANCE AND DIRECTION The distances traversed by hydrocarbons during primary migration are short. Because neither case is of great general significance for petroleum formation. Thus primary migration ends whenever a permeable conduit for secondary migration is reached. we conclude that solution in gas is a minor mechanism for oil expulsion. we can estimate that once the expulsion threshold is reached the expulsion efficiency for bitumen is about 50%. but also an "exit tax. Sand stringers within shale units can provide secondary migration conduits for hydrocarbons sourced in the shales. Such a phase could only exist where the amount of gas far exceeds the amount of liquid hydrocarbons. and assuming that expulsion of hydrocarbons is ten times as efficient as expulsion of NSO compounds.Migration . the migrating fluids will take them. 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. Fracture and joint systems. because petroleum is being forced through rocks having low matrix permeabilities. depending upon the carrier-bed characteristics of the surrounding rocks. A second way in which oil-phase expulsion can occur is from very organic-rich rocks prior to the onset of strong hydrocarbon generation. This expulsion process probably releases internal pressures in the rock.
If. The smaller the pore throat. Coalescence of globules of hydrocarbons after expulsion from the source rock therefore increases their ability to move upward through water-wet rocks. and becomes stuck until either the buoyant force or the capillary entry pressure changes. Thus movement within a confined migration conduit will be updip perpendicular to structural contours whenever possible. Hydrocarbons are thus capable of displacing water downward and moving upward themselves. the globule must deform to squeeze into the pore. The upward buoyant force is partly or completely opposed by the capillary-entry pressure. however. A third force-namely. If water is flowing in the subsurface in the same direction as hydrocarbons are moving by buoyancy. Hydrocarbons are almost all less dense than formation waters. Structural contours on the top of the carrier bed will . the more deformation is required. This fact has important implications for tracing migration pathways through a thick conduit. we say that accumulation has occurred. In contrast. Whenever a pore throat narrower than the globule is encountered. Retardatin of buoyant movement as an oil globule (X) is deformed to fit in to a narrow pore throat (Y). That is. hydrodynamic flow. which is resistance to entry of the hydrocarbon globule or stringer into pore throats. then the rate of hydrocarbon transport will be retarded. When hydrocarbons cease moving. the globule will squeeze into the pore throat and continue moving upward. subsequent movement of the hydrocarbons will be driven by buoyancy. These modifications to the overall scheme are probably minor. Buoyancy promotes migration. requiring only the existence of two forces. then the rate of hydrocarbon movement should be enhanced somewhat. migration may have to proceed at an oblique angle to structural contours. the pore throat is very tiny or if the buoyant force is small. but it is not essential and does not change our basic model. secondary migration will occur both laterally and vertically. Opposing the buoyancy is capillary-entry pressure. secondary migration will cease until either the capillary-entry pressure is reduced or the buoyant force is increased. Within massive sandstone. This model is very simple. whereas capillary-entry pressure retards or stops it. If the capillary-entry pressure exceeds the buoyant force. If the upward force of buoyancy is large enough.31 SECONDARY MIGRATION MECHANISM Once hydrocarbons are expelled from the source rock in a separate hydrocarbon phase into a secondary-migration conduit. hydrocarbons entering the land from an underlying source rock will move toward the top of the sand even as they migrate laterally updip. the globule cannot enter. 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. and therefore are more buoyant. DISTANCE AND DIRECTION Secondary migration occurs preferentially in the direction that offers the greatest buoyant advantage.Migration . can modify hydrocarbon movement. the force required to deform the oil globule enough to enter the pore throat. Where faulting or facies changes create impassable barriers (capillary-entry pressure exceeds buoyant force). if bulk water movement opposes the direction of buoyant movement.
because final control on migration direction will be exerted by the upper part of the bed (assuming that no laterally continuous shale breaks divide the carrier bed into two or more separate systems).Migration . but also because an active fault or the brecciated zone adjacent to a fault may itself have high permeability. Vertical migration across stratigraphic boundaries is more difficult. large drainage areas and chances for very large accumulations. There is no a priori reason why secondary migration cannot be a very-long-distance phenomenon. however. Most basins. Unconformities also can juxtapose migration conduits. It is possible to have lateral migrations of as much as a few hundred kilometers in exceptional circumstances. are broken up tectonically and have poor lateral continuity of carrier beds. This model greatly simplifies the problem of accumulation. Much more common. at which time they suddenly became immiscible with the water and formed a separate hydrocarbon phase. 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. Migration updip within a single stratum can accomplish a large amount of "vertical" migration rather painlessly. are basins in which lateral migration distances do not exceed a few tens of kilometers. the largest hydrocarbon deposits known. however. Indeed. otherwise it is impossible to account for the incredible volumes of hydrocarbons in place today. However. and the Saudi Arabian crude oils. for example. Cap rocks having low . as a result of both tectonic disruption and facies changes related to tectonic events. the process of hydrocarbon accumulation was somewhat mystical. Nevertheless. The question of long-distance migration has been much discussed and disputed. Various mechanisms for exsolution were proposed to explain how all this was supposed to happen. Drainage area is one of the most important factors influencing the size of hydrocarbon accumulations. not only because they often juxtapose carrier beds from different stratigraphic horizons. Lack of long-distance migration opportunities implies that supergiant and giant accumulations are far less likely and that exploration targets will be smaller. The absence of both tectonic and stratigraphic barriers permits long-distance migration.32 in general be more useful than contours on its base. by definition. including the Athabasca Tar Sands of western Canada. Stacked sands in a paleodelta. because now accumulation can occur where the buoyancy-driven movement of the hydrocarbon phase is stopped or even strongly impeded. all must have migrated long distances. Today we believe that hydrocarbons migrate as a separate phase. Faults may play an important role in vertical migration. Hydrocarbons had to remain in solution until they reached the trap. ACCUMULATION INTRODUCTION In the old days. 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. the heavy oils in the Orinoco Belt of Venezuela. distances of several thousand feet are not unheard of. Vertical migration distances can also be considerable. leading to smaller fault-bounded accumulations and vertical migration. and has provided as carrier beds continuous blankets of sand juxtaposed with these source rocks. can offer possible pathways (although sometimes rather tortuous ones) for vertical migration. although it should be remembered that there are two fundamentally different types of vertical migration. Lateral migration is therefore often stymied. when migration was thought to occur mainly in water solution. Long-distance migration implies. Vertical migration can also occur across formations.
Fracturing associated with high races of oil generation in the Green River Shale has created a supergiant accumulation at Altamont. This model requires. The Elmworth Field in the Alberta Deep Basin of Canada is the prototype for kinetic gas accumulations. Thus the Elmworth Field exhibits a water-over-gas contact. 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. The much smaller Antelope Field produces from the Mississippian Bakken Formation. Seals in the traditional sense of the word may not exist. KINETIC TRAPS Kinetic traps represent a fundamentally new concept in trapping mechanisms for hydrocarbons. . The low permeability sand thus creates a bottleneck to gas migration. Because gas generation is very rapid. Lateral migration is of necessity short distance. Much of the hydrocarbon storage at Antelope is apparently in silts and sands juxtaposed with the producible Bakken reservoir. the low-permeability sands become filled with gas. CLASSICAL TRAPS. Because the high permeability sand updip allows gas to migrate rapidly through. Cross section across the Rhine Graben of West Germany showing the discontinuity of strata as a result of extensional tectonism endemic to rift basins. 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. Accumulations are small because drainage areas are small. that strong hydrocarbon generation and migration is going on today. No traditional seal exists.33 permeabilities to hydrocarbons provide barriers to migration: that is. The seal prevents vertical migration from the reservoir rock into overlying strata. The simple principle behind a kinetic trap is that hydrocarbons are supplied to the trap faster than they can leak away. Classical traps are well understood. while the structure or lithologic change prevents lateral updip migration.Migration . Gas production is actually from the low-permeability sand rather than from the high-permeability sand updip and downdip. it remains water wet. Most hydrocarbon traps are either structural or stratigraphic. and vertical migration becomes important. rocks whose capillary-entry pressures are high enough to overcome hydrocarbon buoyancy. and will be covered separately. a fractured shale that is both source and reservoir. of course.
It will therefore migrate much faster and . because much of the methane trapped is biogenic and was formed in young. contain mainly light components. and would be incapable of sealing accumulations for long geologic periods. As soon as two immiscible phases are formed. TAR-MAT TRAPS Tar mats produced by biodegradation can create excellent seals. Formation of hydrates thus provides an important trapping mechanism. Once expulsion has occurred. but in the future gas-hydrate accumulations may be of great economic significance. but it may also include some heavier hydrocarbons dissolved in the gas. the lighter (gas) phase will be far more buoyant than the liquid phase. because the same conditions that created the tar mat persist in the subsurface. tar mats may provide the only possible means for retaining any hydrocarbons. Methane is by far the most commonly trapped gas molecule. Despite the rarity of tar-mat seals. and thus get left behind as the oil globule or stringer moves upward. The base of the gas hydrate zone forms a pronounced seismic reflector that often simulates bottom contours and cuts across bedding planes. there may be a chromatographic effect during secondary migration.Migration . In cases where no other structural or stratigraphic trapping mechanism exists. The technology necessary for producing these hydrocarbons has not yet been developed. 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. 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. These gas hydrates consist of a rigid lattice of water molecules that form a cage within which a single molecule of gas is trapped. large accumulations have formed despite high rates of leakage. At the present time the vast potential of gas-hydrate accumulations is just beginning to be recognized. 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. and in zones of permafrost. unconsolidated sediments that would have no other means of retaining the methane. Accumulations beneath tar-mat seals are generally biodegraded themselves. One important feature of methane hydrates is that they are much more efficient at storing methane than is liquid pore water. and thus are not expelled as efficiently with the oil phase. Because hydrate zones are often hundreds of meters thick. these changes in temperature and pressure can cause separation of the original phase into a liquid phase and a gas phase. The polar molecules once again interact most strongly with interstitial water and mineral surfaces. Phase changes occur as a result of decreases in pressure and temperature during migration. When the original hydrocarbon phase contains large amounts of light components. especially methane. but hydrates large enough to accommodate butane molecules are known.34 Many of the accumulations in Pliocene reservoirs in southern California are also kinetic accumulations in a slightly different sense. and the poor producibilitv of the hydrocarbons they trap. The gas phase will. GAS HYDRATES Formation of crystalline hydrates of natural gas provides an extremely efficient trapping mechanism for natural gas. Because intense oil generation is going on now. of course. however. the quantities of gas in such accumulations are huge. Cap-rocks in those fields are often poor. A second characteristic is that gas hydrates form effective seals against vertical hydrocarbon migration. The polar (NSO) compounds interact most strongly with both mineral surfaces and water molecules.
When separation of a single hydrocarbon phase into two phases occurs. Barriers can be created by folding. SIGNIFICANCE FOR EXPLORATION Explorationists who are reading about migration will surely ask. gas is presumably expelled as a gas phase. Efficiency of expulsion for hydrocarbons is apparently much higher than for NSO compounds. Unstable basins seldom have depositional or tectonic continuities necessary for longdistance lateral migration to occur. both new phases will have compositions that differ drastically from the original phase. depending upon stacking of reservoirs. In summary. and how far they moved. We need to know when hydrocarbons moved. Tectonically stable basins have the best potential for long-distance migration and supergiant accumulations. in what direction they moved. Timing of expulsion must be dealt with in a different way. by faulting. We have already stated that oil is expelled primarily as a liquid phase. as explorationists we have very pragmatic interests in migration. by decreases in permeability as a result of facies changes. vertical faulting. and the possibilities of combined vertical and lateral migration. 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 barriers that modify die direction of migration and eventually stop it. and the vertical and horizontal distances involved. Efficiency of expulsion of liquids has already been estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 50% after the expulsion threshold has been reached. Proximity to effective source rocks and their permeabilities to hydrocarbons determine conduits. Polar compounds interact more strongly with water and rock minerals and thus move more slowly than hydrocarbons. and expulsion occurs concurrently with generation to relieve generation-induced overpressuring.Migration . In using our understanding of secondary migration for exploration. as we have seen. 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. Vertical-migration distances can be considerable. Thus if we can determine the timing of generation. the efficiency of expulsion. "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). or by the presence of tars. we want to determine the main pathways and conduite through which migration occurs. leading to an enrichment of hydrocarbons in the expelled liquid. Pathways.35 will also assume the structurally high position in any reservoirs containing both phases. we will also have determined the timing of expulsion. are determined by structural contours on the top of the carrier beds. Lateralmigration distances are strongly influenced by tectonic and depositional histories of basins.
Indeed. Note that we commonly highlight petroleum accumulations by shading or colouring the reservoir formations where they contain oil or gas. 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). it will escape to surface as a seepage. if more continues to migrate up into the trap than can be .Petroleum Traps . The location of a trap in the subsurface is often the first objective of an exploration program. by displacing the water already there in the porosity. 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 lowest point. (a) A simple hypothetical anticline. (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. These are illustrated using a simple anticline as an example. so that the highest points on the map have the lowest values. but it is often convenient to exaggerate the vertical to show the individual beds more clearly. exploration used to consist largely of finding a trap. they can be mapped by means of contours drawn on the top of the reservoir formation. Nowadays we can do better. To give a true representation. Faults will be marked by jumps of the contours. THE REPRESENTATION OF TRAPS Traps are commonly depicted in two ways. before we reached our modern understanding of the geology of petroleum.(2-18) Before we go further. which may refer either to its depth or to the spot under the ground where it lies.36 7 . except that the contours are in depth below sealevel. up towards the ground surface. where it is lost. The contours are in feet below mean sea-level. If it can.Petroleum Traps We have seen petroleum generated in and expelled from the source rock formation into an overlying or underlying reservoir. and hoping for the best. one or more cross-sections may be drawn. we need a few definitions. A structure contour map resembles an ordinary topographic contour map. The top of a reservoir formation. Any oil getting there will be unable to migrate further and so it starts to accumulate. as the beds on one side are dropped down relative to the other. Such a configuration of the reservoir is known as a trap. is known as the crest of the trap. To complement the structure contour map. drilling a well into it. If then we are to find any of it still preserved. 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. is the spill-point: this is where oil. First. which may give a misleading impression of `lakes' of petroleum under the ground! Structure contour maps. is mapped by contours showing depth below sealevel. the ticks are on the downthrown sides of the faults. The highest point of the reservoir. but there must also be some sort of blockage to prevent further migration.
or in their layering. When referring to a single well. will spill out (under) and migrate on. so that we can recognize a generally horizontal oil-water contact. 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. 3. which have porosities and permeabilities too low for them to contribute oil to production. where the trap has been produced by deformation of the beds after they were deposited. They are normally classified under four headings (2-21): 1. Oil being lighter than water. Combination traps. i. that most reservoir formations include some tight intervals. using a cross-section of a simple anticline as example (2-19). the only structural effect being a tilt to allow the oil to migrate through the reservoir. formed partly by structural and partly by stratigraphic effects. Let us remember. will occur as a gas cap above a gas-oil contact. perhaps if more than one reservoir is present. Similarly gas. Structural. and the same term is used loosely to refer to the area of the trap above the level of the spill-point. 4. The vertical height of the oil (or gas) between the crest of the trap and the water contact is the oil. but not entirely due to either. STRUCTURAL TRAPS The best known type of trap is the anticline: on reaching the crest. petroleum migrating up along a reservoir can go no further and it accumulates there as a pool. in which the trap is formed by changes in the nature of the rocks themselves. Some terms used to define a trap. which are rare and are mentioned mainly for completeness.e. there are various types of .(or gas-) column. then we may see a gas-water contact. Stratigraphic. 2. A single accumulation of oil or gas is called a pool. However. being lighter still. Where there is more than one such pool in the same or overlapping areas. the informal term pay is often used.37 accommodated. Now we can start to consider the types of trap whose discovery may await us. either by folding or faulting. Just a couple more terms. separates out on top within the pore-spaces of the reservoir. The vertical height between the spill-point and the crest is referred to as the closure. Hydrodynamic traps. The trap is due to water flowing through the reservoir and holding the oil in places where it would not otherwise be trapped.Petroleum Traps . however. they are embraced by the familiar terms oilfield or gasfield. If there is no oil.
In this type of structure. maintains its shape constant down to depth. a well would have to be located off-crest at surface. so that the beds maintain a constant thickness throughout. Cover it with a few more blankets and a duvet or two. Anticlines. many structures have forms in-between the two extremes. 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. Below this point we have just too much rock to fit into the anticline. Compressive structures have a range of shapes between the purely concentric or parallel anticline and the similar fold. We will describe in a little detail the most important types of anticline. we can find the trap present at all levels down to the basement. on the other hand.(2-22) In the concentric fold the tops and bottoms of all the layers remain strictly parallel to each other. and we may no longer be able to see where the bottle is. If. Let us see what the implications are for exploration. These compressive structures pose one problem right from the start. we have to know its depth to know where best to locate the well. This leads us into the next problem. and the blanket bulges upwards with an anticlinal shape. (a) The dips are the same on both flanks and the crest is beneath the same locality at all depths. so that the beds become intensely crushed and thrust together: we may no longer even have an anticline at all. To test the crest at depth. and we may be able to continue exploration down to depths where we have to stop for other reasons. These conditions mean that the anticline becomes smaller and tighter at deeper levels until we reach a common `centre of curvature'. depending on the nature and strength of the rock layers being folded. The similar anticline. therefore in order to drill into a reservoir near its highest point (where we would expect the oil to be). In practice. in cross-section. In this case. the anticline is asymmetrical. The general principles of this are straightforward. There is a definite limit to the depths to which we should drill. noting the differences in shape and prospectivity that we have to try to interpret.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. beyond which there may be no trap left to explore as the consequence of decoupling of layers. but an understanding of the shape and size of a prospect is clearly critical to programming an exploration well. Cross-sections of trap-forming anticlines. . Other types of anticline can be formed without any lateral compression at all: an important one is the drape or drape-compaction structure. then the position of the crest will shift with increasing depth. This is a very different kettle of fish from the concentric anticline. This can only happen if there is an apparent thickening of some beds over the crest of the fold. we can thus expect to find only smaller and smaller accumulations of petroleum down to the centre of curvature. Traps can also be formed against faults if a chopped-off reservoir is thrown against a shale or other impervious rock.Petroleum Traps . Seismic may help. with one flank steeper than the other. (b) The anticline is asymmetrical and the crest shifts with increasing depth. but we commonly have to undertake some form of geometrical construction to interpret what is happening at depth.
does not like empty holes. so that it is steep near the surface and flattens with depth. can be a perfect seal to any underlying accumulations. Another is the Forties field in the North Sea. however.Petroleum Traps . The effect of salt diapirism will be initially to bulge up the overlying sediments as an anticline. The last type of anticline that we should be aware of is the roll-over anticline. is in one such trap.(2-26) A wide variety of traps can be associated with salt plugs. and several others. 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. Note also that salt. A second effect comes into play here: because there is a greater thickness of beds off the structure than over the top. 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. or over an upfaulted block or horst. it may bend up and seal off the strata it cuts through. and hence the combined name. higher beds will gradually mute and suppress the structure until it is no longer present at shallow levels. Note that the anticline dies out upwards towards the surface. showing the variety of traps that may be associated with them. and finally a residual bulge may be left between two nearby plugs: a turtle or turtle-back structure. a salt pillow or a salt dome. In case anyone should think that this is unimportant. This compaction enhances the anticline formed by the drape. then they will blanket the hill as an anticline. the beds being draped over an upfaulted block (horst) of basement rocks. Ghawar in Saudi Arabia. All of these possible traps may contain hydrocarbons. being plastic. the Gulf Coast of the USA. Nature. Not only may an anticline be pushed up over the plug. the Middle East.(2-25) Similarly. bending downwards into the hole. it may extend up to the surface of the ground or only part way if the supply of salt is limited. which contains more than four times as much oil as the whole of the North Sea put together.39 A drape-compaction anticline. if the first sediments in a basin were deposited over a hilly surface. the Canadian Arctic Islands. Diagrammatic section through two salt plugs. This occurs alongside a normal fault that is curved. it is not always easy to separate out the two effects. In effect the downthrown side is being pulled away from the upthrown side which would tend to create an open fissure along the fault. Note a characteristic of these anticlines: not only do they `grow' with depth. where the beds are draped over the eroded stumps of an old Jurassic volcano. This creates a rollover anticline. it is also liable to fracture the overlying and surrounding beds creating fault traps. and then to burst through them in the form of a salt plug or salt wall. much of the west coast and continental shelf of Africa. note that the largest oilfield in the world. but also .
(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. and naturally we have some ideas on the subject. The sealing capacity of faults is a major difficulty confronting us. All very puzzling! Although attempts have been made to investigate the problem in Nigeria and elsewhere. we have to know whereabouts in the succession our prospective reservoir lies. Upper Jurassic. at deeper levels the crest will shift away from the position of the fault at surface. therefore. the position of the crest is displaced with depth and that accumulations in successive reservoirs will not underlie the same surface position. . and it will depend on the amount of displacement on the fault.40 they are asymmetrical. Occasionally indeed. (B) a roll-over complicated by subsidiary faulting near the crest. will depend on the dip of the reservoir as compared with that of the fault. these predated the deposition of the Upper Cretaceous. to locate an exploration well in the right place. we still do not fully understand what the difference is due to. Middle Jurassic. Tr. Cross-section through the Wytch Farm oilfield. BS+MJ+O. Fault traps We indicated above that a trap may be formed where a dipping reservoir is cut off up-dip by a fault. (2-28) We do not propose to discuss fault traps in detail. Triassic. Note that. 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.Petroleum Traps . Lower Cretaceous. The oil is in two reservoirs. Again. Kim+P. Roll-over anticlines: (A) a simple roll-over into a normal fault. The proviso is that we also have lateral closure: this may be provided by further faulting. Upper Cretaceous. T. We know that sometimes. although there are many problems in trying to locate them in the subsurface. Whether or not there is a trap. The large Wytch Farm oilfield of southern England offers a splendid example. It adds further uncertainties to our predictions of the subsurface occurrence of oil and gas. but we also know that sometimes faults are pathways for migrating petroleum and non-sealing at all.. in both cases. and in understanding them. in both ways. whether or not the reservoir is completely or only partially offset. or have acted in the past. setting it against something impermeable. and how big it is. whether the fault is normal or reverse. Lower Jurassic. Tertiary. Much of the oil under the Niger and Mississippi Deltas is in such roll-over anticlines. a fault can provide a seal. or by opposing dips. W. or slumping as a sort of land-slide. it seems that one and the same fault may act. down towards the deep ocean. and its depth. as at Wytch Farm. trapped against faults to the south. thus causing sand against sand to permit migration and sand against shale to be sealing. UK. It also depends on whether the fault itself is sealing or non-sealing. L. southern England.
but are generally classified as stratigraphic traps. say. its edges will provide an example of a reservoir dying out laterally. may serve as an isolated stratigraphic trap. thus preventing further migration. however. strongly weathered basement rock (granites. becoming younger as time goes on. It would be pointless to list all of the possible types of stratigraphic trap that can exist. A dipping reservoir. We mention just three examples. possibly through a submarine canyon. to a large extent reflecting the restricted environments in which the reservoir rocks were deposited. Non-unconformity traps are even more diverse. on the direction of dip of the beds relative to the fault plane. if drowned by shales. and on the amount of displacement of the reservoir. is the biggest in the USA outside Alaska. provides the classic case: the East Texas field. cut across by erosion and later covered above the unconformity by impermeable sediments. A lot of oil has been found in recent years in this sort of trap in the North Sea. no structural control is needed. More esoterically. fan sands provide one of the prime present-day exploration . The variety in size and shape of such traps is enormous. In fact. gneisses) under an unconformity serve as reservoirs in China and North Africa. to provide a trap when later covered with. A flood of sand washed off the shallow continental shelf into the deeper ocean. a hill on the old land surface may be formed of permeable rock. It is presumed that petroleum cannot escape up the fault plane. they differ somewhat in principle from the others. depending on whether the fault is normal or reverse. some of them very important. In this manner. claystone. A sand deposited in a river channel will be confined by the banks and. the porosity could be preserved beneath the unconformity. let us note that a number of traps. First. until perhaps the supply of sand runs out. for example. Unconformity traps can also be found above the break. so we will mention a few to convey the general idea. the beach sands will spread progressively over the land surface. are formed by unconformities. but nevertheless known.41 Six trapping and two non-trapping configurations against a fault. We would be left with a sandstone reservoir dying out above the unconformity. will spread out as a fan over the ocean floor.Petroleum Traps . if terminated updip as not infrequently happens. Consider the sea gradually encroaching over the land as sea level rises. A coral reef overwhelmed by muds. and leave the reader to speculate on other possibilities. we have an isolated trapping situation.(2-29) STRATIGRAPHIC TRAPS Petroleum may be trapped where the reservoir itself is cut off up-dip.
The difference is believed to be due to clay being smeared into the fault plane. Where a reservoir is full to spillpoint against a fault. tilted westwards. these beds were folded into a faulted east-west anticline. Again the range of possibilities is almost infinite. which was tilted west and eroded before deposition of the overlying beds now dipping east. A couple of examples may give the idea.42 targets.(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. occur in traps formed by a combination of structural and stratigraphic circumstances. or the oil would have been lost.Petroleum Traps . and where an oil-water contact is continuous across a fault. The oil is held in the reservoirs by younger shales overlying the erosion surface (Fig. This combination trap is partly structural (the anticline) and partly stratigraphic (beneath the unconformity).). Both the faulting and the unconformity control the traps. A block representation of the trap at the Prudhoe Bay field in northern Alaska. has most of its oil and gas trapped in a Carboniferous to Jurassic sequence which includes more than one reservoir. it is presumed that the fault is non-sealing. elsewhere it appears to form a trap. We may note here one most important consideration. where the reservoirs overlie overpressured shales. there always seems to be something new as a challenge. that the trap must be shown to have been there before the oil migrated. the biggest field in the USA. neither completely controls the trap. The Prudhoe Bay field in northern Alaska. possibly even before it . The oil in these fields can only have migrated there after the traps were sealed by the higher sequences. as the fault moved. which were eroded and unconformably overlain by Cretaceous shales. although such prospects are not easy to locate and may require a lot of sophisticated seismic. where there is enough of it in the section. As the more easily found structural traps are running out in much of the world. and truncated by erosion. The reservoir beds were folded into an anticline. An investigation into the sealing qualities of faults affecting roll-over anticlines in the Niger Delta. This vital factor.(230) COMBINATION TRAPS A number of fields. some of them large.
It is totally dependent on the flow of water and is effective. Furthermore. This is what has been described as a hydrodynamic trap. of course. therefore. cases are known where flowing water has apparently been able totally to flush oil out of an anticlinal trap. A hydrodynamic trap. as we do not want to waste the money drilling wells that would miss the oil altogether. What our efforts are increasingly directed towards. a regime of water flow cannot normally be expected to remain constant for long. HYDRODYNAMIC TRAPS Imagine surface water. is held against an unevenness of its upper surface by water flowing in the opposite direction. The number of structural field of this size may partly reflect the fact that structural traps are easier to find than the others. we would have to be careful where we locate and drill our oil production wells. There is no structural or stratigraphic closure. The oil-water contact in such a hydrodynamic trap is normally tilted in the direction of water flow. is yet another aspect of the petroleum geology that we have to assess in proposing exploration drilling. and the oil will be free to move again. attempting to escape to surface up a reservoir. perhaps from rain. . Such tilted contacts. The timing of trap formation versus oil migration has not always worked out favorably. are the more obscure and generally smaller prospects. It is therefore always important to get a handle on the hydrodynamic regime in a reservoir for both exploration and oilfield development purposes.Petroleum Traps . indicating the former presence of an oil accumulation now lost. In this sort of situation.43 was generated. traps in both number and size. Oil has found its way into the reservoir and is battling to migrate upwards to the surface against the flow of water. or aquifer. Oil. in say ordinary anticlinal traps. entering a reservoir formation. up in the hills and percolating downwards towards a spring. from our present-day point of view. This may be one of the reasons why oil accumulations trapped hydrodynamically are rare.(2-32) THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF TRAPS A review of 200 giant oilfields (those containing 500 million barrels or more) emphasize the importance of structural. but the oil reserves they contain show clearly that generally they are also bigger. they are known in a number of parts of the world. Note that the oil-water contact is tilted down in the direction of water flow. essentially anticlinal. it may find itself caught against an unevenness of the reservoir surface where there is no conventional trap at all. The trouble. is that in most parts of the world the larger anticlines have now been drilled. geologically speaking. We would recognize this from residual traces of oil in a water-bearing reservoir. are not all that rare. only for as long as the water keeps coming: dry up the supply of water. Depending on the balance of forces acting on the oil.
. The logs show SP (Self Potential or Spontaneous Potential) on the left and R (Resistivity) on the right. multi-interpretable (D).Petroleum Traps . Interpret the geological relationships shown in each by drawing a structural cross-section through the logs.45 EXERCISES EXERCISE 1: The following well logs have been hung on a structural datum.Make the interpretations from easy (A) to more difficult.
located in Steuben County. Wyckoff Reef Gas Field WellElevation CORNELL DIBBLE GUILD CHASE BANKS RICHARDS 2257' 2098' 2037' 2206' 2182' 2066' .Y. Only the porous core facies is productive in the reef section (see map on next page).Petroleum Traps . A deep-seated downto-the-southwest fault extends upward along the southwest flank of the reef. Oriskany production is from a small anticline on the upthrown side of the fault. N. The Onondaga forms a thick biohermal reef over part of the field. showing the interval from top of Onondaga to bottom of Oriskany. produces from Onondaga Limestone and/or Oriskany Sandstone. Use this information to construct a northeastsouthwest structural cross section from the Richards well to the Dibble well. Elevations and marked logs are provided for 6 wells in the Wyckoff Field..46 EXERCISE PetroleumTraps 2 The Wyckoff Gas Field.
47 .Petroleum Traps .
48 .Petroleum Traps .
overmature.. Go. The quantity actually measured in the laboratory is always G. we cannot measure G directly for a sample that has already begun to generate hydrocarbons.Source Rock Evaluation . 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. For example. For better communication. the Phosphoria Formation of Wyoming and Idaho belongs to each of these classifications in different areas. but which may have generated and expelled hydrocarbons. The term "effective source rock" obviously encompasses a wide range of generative histories from earliest maturity to overmaturity. we actually measure its remaining (or untapped) source capacity at the present day. a possible source rock in a nearby unstudied region.Source-Rock Evaluation DEFINITION OF SOURCE ROCK Much of modern petroleum geochemistry depends upon accurate assessment of the hydrocarbonsource capabilities of sedimentary rocks. a potential source rock in a less-mature area. if G is very low. When we analyze a rock sample in the laboratory. MATURITY OF ORGANIC MATERIAL Knowing a rock's remaining source capacity G solves only one part of the puzzle. 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. quick. in which case virtually all the initial . For example. This quantity. and might have no source potential at all in a fourth area where important facies changes had resulted in a drastically lower content of organic matter. Go can only be measured directly for immature source rocks. However. is it because the rock never had a high initial source capacity. much smaller amounts can be analyzed. that usage is a bit too broad and loose. This simple. instead it must be estimated by measuring G for a similar sample that is still immature. Potential source rock: any immature sedimentary rock known to be capable of generating and expelling hydrocarbons if its level of thermal maturity were higher. the remaining source capacity and not the original capacity (Go). Analysis normally requires about one gram of rock. is most meaningful if we can compare it to the rock's original source capacity. which we can call G. and inexpensive analysis serves as the first and most important screening technique in source-rock analysis. Although the term source rock is frequently used generically to describe fine-grained sedimentary rocks. Possible source rock: any sedimentary rock whose source potential has not yet been evaluated. but if the rocks contain abundant organic matter. It follows from these definitions that a particular stratum could be an effective source rock in one place.49 8 . where G and Go are identical. or is it because the rock is "burned out" (i.e. The difference between Go and G represents the hydrocarbons already generated in the effective source rock.
At the end of the analysis a histogram of the collected data is printed. There are many problems with vitrinite reflectance as applied to kerogens. between 50 and 100 measurements will be taken. and none can be applied in all cases. vitrinite reflectance. If enough vitrinite particles can be found. All the methods have strengths and weaknesses. Reflectance values are normally plotted versus depth in a well. whenever possible. of course.50 hydrocarbon-source capacity has already been used up)? The exploration implications of these two scenarios are. In many rocks vitrinite is rare or absent. All the techniques discussed are useful and probably reasonably accurate if the analytical work is carefully done. the microscopist shines light on an individual vitrinite particle. The feeling of most workers today is that there is no single maturity indicator that tells the whole story unerringly all the rime. the reflectance value of vitrinite increases. Despite its weaknesses. A few of these parameters will briefly be discussed. or TAI). even for experienced workers. TAI values are estimated. very different. the plot is a straight line. along with a statistical analysis of the data. Less commonly used are fluorescence and conodont color (CAI). its maturity is not related to that of the rock in which it is found. The ideal histogram of reflectance values is therefore rather rare. in obtaining more than one maturity parameter. The method is based on the fact that with increasing thermal stress. . from amorphous kerogen. In order to minimize differences in color caused by changes in the type or thickness of the kerogen particles. however. and pyrolysis temperature. TAI measurements are made on the same slides prepared for microscopic kerogen-type analysis. Results are reported as Ro values. vitrinite reflectance is the most popular technique today for estimating kerogen maturity. far more common in shales than in coals. 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. Vitrinite-reflectance measurements begin by isolating the kerogen with HCl and HF. misidentification of macerals can cause problems. The darkening of kerogen particles with increasing thermal maturity can be used as an indicator of maturity. TAI measurements are carried out on bisaccate pollen grains whenever possible. in which the vitrinite maceral is usually very common. Because what is present is often reworked. Thermal Alteration Index (TAI). In many areas it is easy to use and valuable. Vitrinite-reflectance techniques were developed for measuring the rank of coals. The key to using maturity parameters effectively lies in evaluating the measured data carefully (and sometimes with skepticism) and. leading to frequent difficulties in establishing which vitrinite population is indigenous. and then embedding the kerogen particles in an epoxy plug. with lower confidence. in fact. Vitrinite reflectance (Ro). If a log scale is used for the reflectance. where the o indicates that the measurements were made with the plug immersed in oil. Reworked vitrinite is. A substantial number of techniques for measuring or estimating kerogen maturity have been developed over the years. in some cases it is essential. In all cases it is worthwhile to supplement vitrinite with other measures of maturity. paucity of first-cycle vitrinite renders vitrinite-reflectance measurements essentially worthless. Other macerals or solidified bitumens can often be misidentified as vitrinite. The fraction of the incident beam that is reflected coherently is measured and recorded and stored automatically on a computer. Such histograms are quite often difficult or impossible to interpret. After the plug is polished. unless surrounding samples help us determine the indigenous vitrinite population. The most commonly used maturity parameters today are spore color (Thermal Alteration Index.Source Rock Evaluation . In other rocks. Because each maceral type increases in reflectance in a slightly different way as thermal stress increases. If no pollen can be found.
they offer a means of measuring maturity in rocks that do not contain pollen grains or vitrinite. changes in conodont color are apparently due to carbonization of inclusions of small amounts of organic matter during catagenesis and metagenesis. The chief problems arise with inexperienced workers. which can vary greatly in its chemical and physical properties. One disadvantage of CAI measurements is that CAI values can be dramatically increased in the presence of hot brines. leading to an inaccurate assessment of kerogen maturity. lack of proper standardization. Furthermore. with the help of color charts can be carried out by inexperienced personnel. Conodonts are isolated. TAI values must be estimated from amorphous debris.Source Rock Evaluation . where most of the interest is. and thus are of no value in many areas. use of careful standards and the same type of palynomorph in each analysis greatly aid reproducibility. by removing the mineral matrix with acetic or formic acid. the absence of spores and pollen in the samples. where pollen and vitrinite are often absent. Early investigations showed that immature rocks often had high CPI . Although TAI determinations are subjective. Thirdly. CAI is only an indirect indicator of hydrocarbon maturity. Conodont Alteration Index (CAI). Colors of the specimens thus obtained are determined under a binocular microscope and compared with standards. The first maturity indicator applied to sediments was the Carbon Preference Index. conodonts are plentiful in carbonate rocks. TAI measurements are therefore often quite accurate and correlate very well with results from other techniques. thus defusing to a large degree the criticism that TAI is too subjective to be valid. When palynomorphs are absent. The technique is simple and quick and can be done even by inexperienced workers. the CAI scale is most sensitive at levels of maturity much higher than can be measured by TAI. TAI values estimated from amorphous material are always suspect and should be corroborated by other analyses. Carbon Preference Index (CPI). A careful worker can reproduce earlier work with excellent precision. CAI is inexpensive and easy to measure and. One advantage of CAI over other maturity parameters is that because conodonts existed as early as the Cambrian. or most commonly. Finally. because the organic metamorphism displayed by conodonts is not related to hydrocarbon generation or destruction.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. most commonly from fossiliferous carbonates. Conodonts do not occur in rocks younger than the Triassic. Although conodonts are composed of carbonate apatite. Conodonts are not very sensitive indicators of maturity within the oil generation window. Finally. and thus helps expand the range over which maturities can be measured. Other disadvantages overlap with some of the advantages.
5). In contrast to solid additives. Careful picking of lithologies and comparison with up-hole samples can often recognize caved materials.Source Rock Evaluation . in the last decade kerogen analyses have replaced bitumen analyses as the routine procedure in source-rock evaluation. palynological analysis can usually detect the presence of lignosulfonates because of the unique pollen assemblages present in the lignite. It breaks down at high maturity levels. Walnut hulls and other organic debris are also easy to detect microscopically. Fortunately. In particular. however.2. Problems with living organic matter are easily avoided by physically removing tiny plant roots and other recognizable debris. therefore. TOC values will be raised and vitrinite-reflectance values lowered by the presence of adsorbed diesel. whereas those of oils were almost always below 1. strongly affected by maturity. of course. In many cases. only microscopic analysis is relatively unaffected by maturity. This discovery led to the use of CPI as an indicator of maturity. In such cases TOC values will be raised and reflectance histograms will show a large population near 0. Like pyrolysis. however. 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. Well Samples . rocks deposited in pelagic environments. where the fluorescence that enables us to distinguish between oil-prone and non-oil-prone disappears toward the end of the oil-generation window. it is impossible to determine which maturation path brought it to that point. 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. vitrinite reflectance measurements offer the best means of recognizing caving. As a result. because of their friability. The exception to this rule is with amorphous material.The main causes of contamination among samples obtained from wells are caving and adulteration by drilling-fluid additives. it can lead to an overly optimistic assessment of the organic richness of the section. but it can be devastating in cuttings samples. in which the input of terrestrial lipids was very limited. Contaminants of particular notoriety are diesel fuel. which affect only the kerogen portion of the sample. ESTIMATION OF ORIGINAL SOURCE CAPACITY Of the three major methods of determining kerogen type. atomic H/C ratios measure the present day status of the kerogen rather than its original chemical composition. of course. and can be removed prior to beginning the analytical sequence. It is capable of impregnating sidewall and conventional cores as well as cuttings. This method works fairly well if the kerogen is still within the oil-generation window. Caving is not a problem for conventional or sidewall cores. have low CPI values even when immature. Caving is a particular problem for coals. Furthermore. Drilling-fluid additives have been a severe headache for petroleum geochemists for a long time. walnut hulls and other solid debris. Pyrolysis yields are. Hydrocarbon contamination is rare except in the immediate vicinity of production or where vehicles are used. fewer CPI determinations are made now. Atomic H/C ratios must therefore be corrected for the effects of . because all kerogens have low pyrolysis yields.52 values (> 1. Without additional information. and lignite from lignosulfonates. As long as kerogen particles are not completely black. and therefore should be easy to avoid. The most common method for taking maturity effects into account in evaluating pyrolysis data is to use a modified van Krevelen diagram to backcalculate the original hydrogen index. they can usually be identified with reasonable confidence.5%. Mold or other surface growth may also be present. diesel fuel affects both kerogen and bitumen.
Kerogens in rocks containing less than 1% TOC are generally oxidized.0% TOC are marginal. but they may expel small quantities of hydrocarbons and thus should not be discounted completely. 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. We must still determine whether the kerogen present is in fact of good hydrocarbon-source quality. and inert. In some rocks TOC values between 1% and 2% are associated with depositional environments intermediate between oxidizing and reducing.5% TOC. and thus of limited source potential. TYPE OF ORGANIC MATTER Microscopic kerogen-type analysis describes the proportions of the various macerals present in a sample. The oil-generative macerals are those of Type I and Type II kerogens: alginite.5%). which ones might be of slight interest (TOC between 0. Gas-generative kerogen is mainly vitrinite. on the basis of deductive reasoning. resinite.0%). They will not function as highly effective source rocks. Nevertheless.5% and 1. The amount of hydrocarbons generated in such rocks is so small that expulsion simply cannot occur. cutinite. As such these quantities are a measure of the total capacity of a rock to release or generate hydrocarbons or carbon dioxide.5% TOC are considered to have negligible hydrocarbon-source potential. Rocks containing between 0. Thus high TOC values are a necessary but not sufficient criterion for good source rocks. and S3) are expressed in milligrams of hydrocarbon or carbon dioxide per gram of rock sample. These immature H/C ratios can then be used to calculate Go. Pyrolysis results are normally reported in two ways. We therefore use TOC values as screens to indicate which rocks are of no interest to us (TOC < 0. because the kerogens they contain are woody or highly oxidized.0%). however. These raw data are then normalized for the organic-carbon content of the sample. In interpreting these observations we normally divide these macerals into oil-generative. S2. etc. Inertinite is considered by most workers to have no hydrocarbon-source capacity. the direct evidence for such a statement is rather meager. because the type of kerogen preserved in rich rocks is often more oil-prone than in lean rocks. A rock containing 3% TOC is likely to have much more than six times as much source capacity as a rock containing 0. and which are definitely worthy of further consideration (TOC > 1. fluorescing amorphous kerogen. Raw data (S1. Furthermore. where preservation of lipid-rich organic matter with source potential for oil can occur. Those rocks containing less than 0. gas-generative. Rocks containing more than 1% TOC often have substantial source potential. Many rocks with high TOC values.5% and 1. Smyth (1983).53 maturation by using a van Krevelen diagram. yielding . exinite. Interpretation of TOC values therefore does not simply focus on the quantity of organic matter present. have little oil-source potential. has dissented from this pessimistic view. however. that at least some Australian inertinites can generate significant amounts of oil. the kerogen in such lean rocks is almost always highly oxidized and thus of low source potential. Because the density of organic matter is about one-half that of clays and carbonates. the actual volume percent occupied by the organic material is about twice the TOC percentage. TOC values above 2% often indicate highly reducing environments with excellent source potential. claiming.Source Rock Evaluation .
CAI can actually measure high-grade metamorphism. because they vary with kerogen type as well as maturity. because during the Paleozoic the biota was quite different than during the Cenozoic. and thus are considered to have good source potential for liquid hydrocarbons. but there are still some minor variations from one laboratory to another. Age of coals is important.9% Ro. . 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. resinite. and the end of liquid-hydrocarbon generation is thought to be at about 1. Kerogens with hydrogen indices above about 300 contain substantial amounts of Type II macerals. Measured hydrogen indices must be corrected for maturity effects by using a modified van Krevelen diagram as outlined above. The normalized S2 and S3 values are called the hydrogen index and the oxygen index. make sure that you have a copy of their equivalency between TAI and Ro. The ultimate limit of oil stability is not known for certain. either from terrestrial macerals (cutinite. It is particularly difficult to generalize about TAI values because the numerical values of TAI scales have not been standardized among laboratories. less common application is to decide whether oil will be stable in a given reservoir. but in most cases is probably not much above 1. with CAI of 8 reached in a marble. the hydrogen index serves as an indicator of kerogen type. A second. The correlations among maturity parameters have been fairly well established.6% Ro. if you are using TAI determinations determined by an analytical laboratory.54 values in milligrams per gram of TOC. most other maturation parameters are related to Ro values. MATURITY Kerogen Parameters. Hydrogen indices above 150 reflect increasing amounts of lipid-rich material. for most kerogens the onset of oil-generation is taken to be near 0. Because vitrinite reflectance is the most popular method of determining maturity.35% Ro. 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.5% Ro. Peak generation is reached near 0. and the coals were of bituminous to anthracite rank. Those between 150 and 300 contain more Type III kerogen than Type II and therefore have marginal to fair potential for liquids. Because variations in TOC have been removed in the normalizing calculation. Because some Cenozoic land plants are richer in resins and waxes than Paleozoic plants. exinite) or from marine algal material. some Cenozoic coals should have better potential for generating liquid hydrocarbons. others use 440°. this generalization has two fallacies: most of the coalfields originally studied were of Paleozoic age. Conodont Alteration Index (CAI) values ranging from 1 to 5 were tied loosely to vitrinite reflectance and fixed carbon content of coals.Source Rock Evaluation . respectively. Determination of the oil-generation window in a particular section is the objective of most maturity analyses performed on possible source rocks. Kerogens with hydrogen indices above 600 usually consist of nearly pure Type I or Type II kerogens. They have excellent potential to generate liquid hydrocarbons. Interpretation of hydrogen indices for immature kerogens is straightforward. However. Some laboratories put the onset of maturity at 435° C. Thus. The limits of the oil generation window vary considerably depending upon the type of organic matter being transformed. Although Tmax values are determined objectively.
8 4.00 4.35 1.20 1.0 Pyrolysis Tmax (°C) 420 430 440 450 460 465 470 480 500 500 + 500 + Conodont Alteration Index (CAI) 1 1 1 1. Interpretation of source-rock data on a basic level is quite simple. Whenever possible.00 3.00 1. To do this intelligently we must have the ability to develop regional models of organic facies and thermal maturity. we should attempt to corroborate the measured data by other analyses. In some areas one technique may fail completely or may be only partially successful.0 3. We should always attempt to extrapolate our measured data over as large an area as possible. and organic facies.Source Rock Evaluation .80 1. unconformities and erosional events.3 2. With increasing experience one can also learn to derive important information on thermal histories.2 3. we should not rely on a single analytical technique. Vitrinite Reflectance (%Ro) 0.6 2. rather.60 0.0 4. type.50 0. and maturity of the organic matter present in the rocks? Satisfactory methods are available in most cases to answer all these questions.8 3.55 SUMMARY Any source-rock evaluation should attempt to answer three questions: What are the quantity.5 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 Correlation of various kerogen-maturity parameters with vitrinite-reflectance (Ro) values .0 2.40 0.4 3.5 3.50 2.00 Thermal Alteration Index (TAI) 2. therefore.
A) Calculation of the immature kerogen H/C ratio(at A) from the present-day H/C ratio and vitrinite reflectance data(at P) .33 1.2 3.65 0.1 3.5 1.5 0.81 1. present-day H/C ratios to the ones that the kerogens had when they were thermally immature.0 2-2.5 2. and then tracing the H/C ratio back to its immature value.8 0.41 0.98 0.7 1.2 1.6 2.77 0. refer to the graph on next page. and maturity (TAI)." To do this.5 1.5 2. one must first convert the measured.3 0.72 0.66 0. as shown in Figure B (derived from Figure A).1 2.6 0.5 2-2.15 0.5 2-2.22 1.8 % Alginite + Exinite 75 80 80 75 80 90 85 75 70 50 45 60 45 40 ? ? Core Cuttings Data are available on quantity (%Corg).2 2. presenting the kerogen quality factor as a . quality (H /C and %Alginite + Exinite). so "Total Oil" can be plotted against "Oil Already Generated.86 0.7 2. B) H/C versus TAI for Mauve Well samples.5 2. The calculated immature H/C ratios are listed in the table on next page. 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 0.3 1. To use the H /C data.56 EXERCISES Worked out example: Perform a source-rock analysis on the Mauve Well.75 0.05 0. Both the immature H / C ratios and the maceral analysis data need to be scaled to calculate "Total Oil.7 2.0 3.0 0.6 2.9 3.6 2.Source Rock Evaluation .7 1.7 3. This can be done easily by plotting H/C versus TAI.2 Atomic H/C 1. and both should be utilized and examined for possible discrepancies.07 1.38 TAI 2." Two independent quality measurements have been made.27 1.5 0. however.
75 0. Without more knowledge.05 0. such as pyrolysis.90 0.57 function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen in order to determine the quality factor from H/C. In likewise manner (not illustrated here) the quality factor can be determined from maceral analysis data. The scaled quality factors are given for each parameter in the table on next page.30 1.15 0.Source Rock Evaluation .90 0.6 1.41 0.05 1.6 1. 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. 1750. and would certainly request that the slides made for maceral analysis be reviewed. 1500.8 1.98 0.22 1.77 0. to check for analytical error.70 1.20 1.5 1.2 0. and 4500 meters all show differences in the quality factors calculated from the two types of data.86 0.50 1. The prudent interpreter might now ask that some of the H/C ratios be rerun.60 0.65 0. It is apparent that there are serious discrepanties between the H/C and maceral analysis results for several of the samples. and not .65 0.5 1. Kerogen quality factor as a function of H/C ratio of the immature kerogen. the H/C ratio gives the lower quality factor.27 1.38 Immature H/C 1. it is impossible to pinpoint the error.77 0.05 1.8 ? ? * * * Indicates discrepancy between quality factors calculated from H /C and from maceral analysis.6 1. In each case.85 1. the interpreter might then decide to try a third technique.9 1.0 0.90 0. 2000.00 0. so some systematic error is likely.81 1.72 0. 4000.35 0.9 0.33 1.35 0.17 0.35 1.07 1.5 1. however.90 0.66 0. The most important point being made here is that these discrepanties must be taken seriously by the interpreter.05 0. The samples at 1000.7 1.43 1.81 1.07 1.4 1.90 ? ? Quality Factor Quality Factor (from H/ C) (from 1. If these attempts produced no resolution of the problem.60 0. 2300.05 0.22 1.60 ? ? * * * * * 1.
Let us take this last approach to this problem. therefore. because sourcerock potential is not good for most of the section. More samples between 3000 and 3500 meters should be obtained to define better the zone of high "Total Oil" values. The only sample where the discrepancy is significant is that from 2000 meters. . "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. about the oil-source history of the section below 4600 meters. Most of the discrepanties among the different quality factors turn out to be unimportant. In fact. no maceral analysis was possible here. The rest of the section shows a good correspondente between the two parameters. although the section between 2000 and 3500 meters shows fairly good potential. except for the two deepest samples. The relative organic richness of the blackened samples below 4600 meters makes them interesting for further investigation. and the H/C ratios are not helpful because the maceral types cannot be ascertained from such low H/C values. These two kerogens are highly mature and quite black. It may be necessary occasionally to offer two alternative interpretations without choosing between them. 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. "Total Oil" and "Oil Already Generated" profiles are plotted in above figure.58 be overlooked or swept under the rug. One can say little. Finally.Source Rock Evaluation . "Total Oil" and "Oil Already Generated" profiles tor the Mauve Well. Future exploratory activity could include an attempt to find such a section. "Total Oil" values are generally unexciting.
EXERCISE Source Rock 2 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well.0 2.51 0.60 0.5 2.5-3 2.21 1.51 0.5 2.5-3 2.06 0.02 0.5 2.5-3 2.5-3.05 0.07 0.5-3 2.5 2.5 3.8 1.03 0.8 0.07 1.5 2.07 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.5 3-3.5 2.67 0.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1.26? 1.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10 2-2.0 2.7 0.17 0.0 3-3.91 1.6 0.41? 1.42 0.6 4.6 2.5 2.25 1.55 0.5 2.49 0.06 0. Explain how you resolved any apparent discrepancies.85 0.9 1.08 0.03 0. Source-rock data tor the Turquoise Well Depth (ft) 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500 10.0 2.65 0.59 0.5-3 3.4 0.66 0.61 0.25 0.33? 1.2 0.11 0.06 0.52 0.66 0.03 0.88 0. Thermal-maturity data for the Blue Well Depth (ft) TAI Ro Bitumen/TOC 1000 1200 1500 2000 2300 2600 3000 3200 3400 3700 4000 4200 4800 5000 5200 5400 5700 6000 2.5-3 2.91 1.0-2.09 0.5 3.1 0.3 2.Source Rock Evaluation .3 Bit/TOC 0.51 0.08 0.46 0.5 2.02 0.3 2.3 1.17 0.86 1.60 0.0-2.0 2.2 2.0-2.60 0.0 2.99 1.65 0.3 2.08 0.7 0.49 0.91 0.48 Ro 0.71 0.05 0.08 0.22 0.5 0.5 2.27 1.21 1.18 0.44 0.59 0.09 0.21 0.5 2.27 0.02 Atomic H/C 0.0 2.63 0.12 *TAI and Ro are interconverted according to the correlation table at the end of chapter 7.00 1.5 TOC = Total Organic Carbon Bit/TOC = Bitumen/Total organic carbon ? indicates a poor histogram TAI = Thermal Alteration Index Ro = Vitrinite reflectance .90 0.1 2.01 0.10 0.0 0.
This assumption is a logical and defensible one. . nor do we know at what depth or temperature it occurred. 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. We need data that will enable us to construct a time stratigraphy for the location of interest and to specify its temperature history. In most cases. and migration with timing of structure development or trap formation. Furthermore. especially if the seismic reflectors can be tied to well data. however. 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. Part of this problem is a consequence of the limitations we face in attempting to obtain reliable maturity measurements. 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. however. He developed a "Time-Temperature Index" of maturity (TTI) to quantify his method. methods have been developed for calculating maturity levels where measurements are not available. expulsion. If no subsurface data are available. It has even been suggested that maturity models are more accurate than measured data for determining the extent of petroleum generation. perhaps from thicknesses of exposed sections nearby. a time stratigraphy can sometimes be constructed using seismic data. early efforts to take both time and temperature into account in studying the process of hydrocarbon generation were only partially successful because of the mathematical difficulties inherent in allowing both time and temperature to vary independently. In order to circumvent these difficulties. Even in maturely explored basins the samples available for analysis often do not give a representative picture of maturity in the basin. 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. for it is in keeping with the predictions of chemical-kinetic theory. 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. in frontier basins there may not be a single well within tens or hundreds of kilometers. measured maturity data are of limited value in exploration. If our measurements indicate that a rock has already passed through the oil-generation window.60 9 . indeed. If no well data are available. estimates can be made. In 1971. In some areas there are no well samples available.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. maturity measurements can only tell us about present-day maturity levels. 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. Nevertheless. we still have no clue as to when oil generation occurred. These considerations are important when we want to compare timing of generation. Time-stratigraphic data are usually available as formation tops and ages obtained by routine biostratigraphic analysis of well cuttings.Predicting Thermal Maturity .
by 80 Ma the sediment had been buried to a depth of 900 m (point C). In cases where biostratigraphic data are lacking or where the sediments have had complex tectonic histories.Predicting Thermal Maturity . and that a corrected bottom-hole temperature of 133° C was obtained at 3800 m.(9-2) All of the shallower and younger horizons will have burial-history curves whose segments are parallel to those of the oldest horizon. are marked on the age-depth plot. if constructed as carefully as the data permit. Connecting the six dots completes the burial-history curve. In the Tiger well. sediment has accumulated continuously but at varying rates since deposition of the oldest rock 100 million years ago (Ma). Using these present-day data and extrapolating them into the past. In cases where biostratigraphic data are available and deposition has been reasonably continuous. Neglecting compaction effects. Burial-history curves are based on the best information available to the geologist. burial-history curves represent our best understanding of the geological history of an area. An example is shown in the following figure. which was constructed from the time stratigraphy for the Tiger well. Suppose. Today the rock is at a depth of 3700 m. The subsurface temperature must be specified for every depth throughout the relevant geologic past. for example. . TEMPERATURE HISTORY The next step is to provide a temperature history to accompany our burial-history curve. it is easy to construct burial-history curves with a high level of confidence. that the Tiger well was logged. The next step is to locate the first control point from the time-stratigraphic data on the input table. Nevertheless. This geometry is a direct consequence of ignoring compaction effects. The simplest way to do this is to compute the present-day geothermal gradient and assume that both the gradient and surface temperature have remained constant throughout the rock's history. a burial-history curve may represent only a rather uncertain guess.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. Using the other control points from the input table. representing the initial deposition of the sediment (point A) and its position today (point B). we can construct the complete figure. Suppose further that local weather records indicate a yearly average surface temperature of 19° C. we can construct the temperature grid with equally spaced isotherms parallel to the earth's surface. The burial-history curve was constructed in the following way: two points.
some part of the section is repeated as a result of thrusting. Causes for such events could include global warming and cooling or local climatic variations resulting from continental drift or elevation changes. If thrusting is rapid compared to the rate of thermal equilibration between thrust sheets. the movement of hot rocks from the bottom of the overthrusted slab over cool rocks at the top of the underthrusted slab will affect . temperature profiles will be based largely on guesswork. SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT BURIAL-HISTORY CURVES The most common complicating factor in constructing burial-history curves is erosional removal. If part of the section is missing as a result of faulting. but the geothermal gradient varies in response to heating or cooling events. Faulting can be dealt with by considering the hanging wall and footwall as separate units having distinct burial histories. The individual segments of each of the burial-history curves in a family will remain parallel. Whenever erosional removal occurs. More complicated temperature histories account for changes in thermal conductivities caused by variations in lithology. Given adequate data or an appropriate model on which to base complex temperature reconstructions. If. In other cases the surface temperature remains constant. If deposition resumes later. The effects of thrusting on thermal maturity are not well understood. Erosion is indicated in a burial-history curve by an upward movement of the curve. There is no theoretical limit to the complexity that can be introduced into our temperature histories. the resultant thinning of the section must be represented in the entire family of burial-history curves. however. There are numerous other variations that can be employed in creating temperature grids. For example (9-7).62 Where measured bottom-hole temperatures are not available. two separate diagrams should be used for the sake of clarity. the burial-history curve again begins to trend downward. burial-history curves for both hanging wall and footwall can be represented on a single diagram. we can change surface temperatures through time without altering the geothermal gradient. In many poorly explored areas.Predicting Thermal Maturity . maps of regional geothermal gradients can be useful in estimating the gradient at a particular location. we are limited only by our own creativity. however. the data necessary for highly sophisticated temperature reconstructions are simply not available. 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. In most cases.
Predicting Thermal Maturity . Lopatin (1971) assumed that the rate of maturation followed this doubling rule.(9-12) CALCULATION OF MATURITY Once the burial-history curves and temperature grids have been constructed. spent by the rock in each temperature interval. increases exponentially with increasing temperature. Index values increase or decrease regularly at higher or lower temperatures intervals. Individual burial-history curves remain parallel. 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. 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 chose the 100°-110° C interval as his base and assigned to it an index value n = 0. This intervalTTI value represents the maturity acquired by the rock in that temperature interval during the time . In order to carry out maturity calculations conveniently. Lopatin defined each time factor simply as the length of time. Intersections of the burial-history curve with each isotherm are marked with dots. more work is required before we will understand fully how thrusting influences hydrocarbon generation and destruction. expressed in millions of years. The temperature factor. in contrast. Now we can carry out the maturity calculations. decreases by 1000 m. we must paste them together. Testing of his model and the successful application of Lopatin's method in numerous published examples have confirmed the general validity of this assumption. Because the rate of maturation was assumed to increase by a factor of two for every 10° C rise in temperature. Loss of 1000 m of section by erosion during an uplift event lasting from 70 Ma to 60 Ma. we need to define both a time factor and a temperature factor for each temperature interval. A Time interval is the length of time that the rock has spent in a particular temperature interval. These dots define the time and temperature intervals that we shall use in our calculations.63 organic maturation by causing important perturbations in subsurface temperatures. Studies in the Overthrust Belt of Wyoming indicate that a slow-equilibration model is superior to a simple model invoking rapid thermal equilibration. However. respectively. Total maturity is calculated by summing the incremental maturity added in each succeeding temperature interval. for any temperature interval the temperature factor (?) was given by: ? = 2n The temperature-factor thus reflects the exponential dependence of maturity on temperature. Temperature intervals are defined by successive isotherms spaced 10° C apart. but the distance between the two lines which bracket the erosion.400 cal/mol will approximately double with every 10° C increase in reaction temperature.
Furthermore. . Maturity always increases. we cannot "unburn" it. finally. FACTORS AFFECTING THERMAL MATURITY Because maturity is affected by both baking time and baking temperature. TTI values differ appreciably among these four scenarios. baking will continue. If we put a cake in a cold oven and turn the oven on. the specific burial history of a rock can strongly affect its maturity.(9-20) It is also possible to determine the total-TTI value at any time in the past simply by stopping the calculation at that time. we simply sum all the interval-TTI values for the rock. it can never go backward because interval-TTI values are never negative. as the oven cools down. maturity continues to increase (albeit at a slower rate) because y is always greater than zero. In B burial was very slow during the first 70 Ma of the rock's existence. followed by a nonerosional depositional hiatus for the last 50 Ma.64 given. but quite rapid in the last 10 my. A good analogy can be drawn between oil generation and baking. In D 40 Ma of rapid burial to a depth of 4000 m was followed by a hiatus lasting 30 Ma and. although at increasingly slower rates. The first step in calculating TTI is illustrated in the following figure. if we forget about the cake when the oven is hot and let it burn. Figure C shows rapid burial during the first 20 Ma. To obtain total maturity.Predicting Thermal Maturity . In A the rock was buried at a constant rate for its entire 80-my history. where the time factors and yfactors for each temperature interval are shown on the burial-history curve. On the other hand. If we turn off the oven but leave the cake inside. even if a rock cools down. In the adjoining table interval-TTI values and total-TTI values up to the present day are calculated. 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). by 10 Ma of uplift and erosion. no matter how much or how rapidly we cool it down. the cake will bake slowly at first but will bake faster and faster as the temperature rises.
Kc = Cody-Frontier formations. our uncertainties about the true values of subsurface temperatures are much greater than about time. Tfu = Fort Union Formation.(9-29) Furthermore.Predicting Thermal Maturity . might we anticipate possible problems with time. Temperature. Km = Lance-Meeteetse formations. Tu = undifferentiated Tertiary. B) Revised burial-history model for Well #1 based on the poor correlation with measured maturity data.65 A) Initial proposed burialhistory model for Well #1. in contrast. Most logged temperatures are too low and require correction. but there is no guarantee of their accuracy in any particular case. and can be even better in Cenozoic rocks. we usually have excellent control on rock ages through micropaleontology. The model includes an extensive nonerosional depositional hiatus. Only in cases where micropaleontological dating was not or could not be carried out. the dependence of maturity on time is linear. . is the single most important cause of uncertainty and error in maturity calculations. showing the evolution of the oilgeneration window through time. Family of burial-history curves for a well in the Big Horn Basin. Secondly. First. Age calls are often made within a million years. The sensitivity of maturity to temperature is clearly indicated by the exponential dependence of maturity on temperature predicted by the Arrhenius equation. so even a rather large error in baking time will not produce a catastrophic change in maturity. Present-day subsurface temperatures are difficult to measure accurately. time data are seldom a problem. Various methods have been developed for this purpose. 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. In actuality. Wyoming.
A plausible average surface temperature is 20° C.66 Even if we could measure present-day subsurface temperatures with perfect accuracy.02 Atomic H/C 0.41? 1.86 1.08 0.25 1.5 3. even an inaccurate extrapolation into the past may not cause significant problems. In many cases.150 ft in the Middle Miocene. particularly where Paleozoic rocks are involved. In other cases.06 0.5 2.0 0.3 Bit/TOC 0. A question of some concern comes from the previously mentioned fact that most of the maturity models treat all types of kerogen identically.000 ft of Upper Miocene before being abandoned at 16.18 0.99 1.59 0. where presentday temperatures are maximum paleotemperatures.1 2.65 0.01 0.2 0.5-3 2.5 3-3.51 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.Predicting Thermal Maturity .7 0. an accurate interpretation of the ancient geothermal history may be critical. we still would have to extrapolate the present somehow into the past.5-3 2.07 1.4 0. do not utilize different kinetic parameters for the various kerogen types.6 4.05 0.67 0.27 1.5 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. Base Pleistocene 2 Ma Base Pliocene 5 Base Upper Miocene 11 Base Middle Miocene 50 Ma .5-3 2. however.5-3 2.26? 1.51 TAI % Alginite + Exinite 40 30 35 40 50 80 75 75 25 40 70 80 20 15 10 2-2.52 0.08 0. however.48 Ro 0. Construct a family of burial-history curves for the well and calculate the present-day TTI at total depth.0 3-3.3 1. 3500 ft of Pliocene.5 2.03 0.71 0.5 2.8 0.8 1.85 0.5 3. The corrected bottom-hole temperature was 270° F.9 1.49 0.91 1.21 1. Despite experimental evidence indicating that different kerogens decompose to yield hydrocarbons at different levels of maturity models.08 0.06 0.000 Type of Sample Cuttings Cuttings TOC 1.27 0.3 2.21 1.02 0. It penetrated 1000 ft of Pleistocene sediments.5 0. and 11.5-3 3.51 0.7 0. In such cases we should be very careful about using predicted maturities unless we have some independent confirmation of the validity of our model from a comparison with measured maturity data.91 1.5-3.5 2.90 0.33? 1.03 0.00 1.88 0.65 0.1 0. EXERCISES EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 1 Perform a source-rock evaluation of the section penetrated in the Turquoise Well.60 0.91 0.5-3 2.17 0.22 0.
Find when the rock at 3000 m began to generate oil (TTI = 10).Predicting Thermal Maturity . Evidence from related sections indicates that the Paleocene was originally about 3000 ft thick and that no other Cenozoic sediments were ever deposited. draw a burial-history curve for the section penetrated and calculate maturity for the Kimmeridgian shale. 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.5 88. Total original thickness of the Kimmeridgian is thought to be 1500 ft. micropaleontology indicates the rocks to be of Maestrichtian age. Corrected BHT (4200 m): Estimated surface temp. 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. At a depth of 1500 ft.5 base Turonian base Cenomanian base Cretaceous top Kimmeridgian base Kimmeridgian 91 Ma 97 144 150 156 Ma . Assuming a surface temperature of 10° C and a geothermal gradient of 2° F/100 ft. Total depth is reached at 6120 ft in Middle Jurassic rocks. assuming a constant geothermal gradient through time.67 EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 3 Calculate present-day TTI at 3000 m in the Red Well. Age data top Paleocene base Paleocene base Maastrichtian base Campanian base Santonian base Coniacian 55 Ma 65 73 83 87. Determine when each of the strata began to generate oil.end Cretaceous: 15° C 141° C 25° C EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 4 The Ultraviolet Well is spudded in Paleocene sediments.
. Nearby well control indicates that a geothermal gradient of 3.68 EXERCISE Thermal Maturity 5 Analyze the timing of oil generation in the Pink Well. oil-prone source rock at about 4300m depth near the prospect.000 8. Time-stratigraphic data are given in the following table. The traps at the prospect location formed slightly prior to the beginning of erosional removal in the basin and have retained integrity to the present.500 21." Utilizing the principles of hydrocarbon generation and preservation. Carboniferous '' Ordovician '' Depth (ft) 7. The geothermal gradient was found to be 1.500 27. they are in turn overlain at 2750m by a sandstone of excellent reservoir quality. The source rock is thought to be about 300 Ma old. The reservoir is sealed by a thick salt layer. Your responsibility is to make a recommendation regarding the nature of hydrocarbons that might be present in die prospect. At that time nearby orogenic activity caused the first traps to be formed during a gradual 1200m uplift lasting until 40 Ma.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. 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.000 25. No other source rocks were noted. Carboniferous '' '' '' '' E. The basin filled at a generally uniform rate from about 300 Ma to 100 Ma. rich.0° F/100 ft. and the surface temperature today is about 15° C.65°C/100 m and a surface intercept of 15°C are reasonable for the area. The following geological summary is available to you.000 11. Erosional removal since the Permian probably totals about 2000 ft. evaluate the prospect. Because of the high operations cost. upper management has decided that gas and condensate are not economical. Highly fractured carbonates overlie the source rock. No unconformities are recognized within the Paleozoic.000 13. From 40 Ma to the present about 500m of additional burial occurred. No other reservoirs are anticipated.000 23.000 18.Predicting Thermal Maturity . "A regional study of the area suggests the probable presence of a thin.
Similarly. they might designate as `probable'. However. Some might use the term to refer to the amount of recoverable oil that is believed to lie within a given radius. 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. in the case of small fields. until actually all of the oil has been produced. which controls the amounts of oil in the reservoir. We cannot regard these quantities as `reserves'. before we started to take any of it out. once a discovery is made. it is desirable to be able to express our degree of confidence in it. 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. located at surface near the well-head. And yet oil companies need to know what to expect. even within oil companies. but the same considerations. 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.Quantitative Assessment . and tertiary reserves using more exotic techniques. The stock tank is. First. and terms can be used equally for gas. Now we must see how we can apply our knowledge of the geology to assessing the amounts of petroleum that we have found. let us again emphasize that we are dealing all the time with uncertainties. which can be produced using assisted or enhanced recovery techniques. our wells. We may distinguish between primary reserves that can be produced without any artificial assistance other than pumping. of a well. We have to try to understand. of the following terms: OIL IN PLACE This is the total volume of oil. Proven reserves: Here we start to enter a minefield! Different companies have different definitions of what is proven. It usually refers to what was there originally. and oil may be produced directly into it. half a mile or whatever. We will refer to oil. 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. however. methods. This section is included to give an idea of what is involved. So. we have to remember that we are dealing with a resource and that we are very concerned with the quantities involved. measured in barrels or other units that is present in an accumulation under the ground. is liable to change between our information points. 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. Increasingly these days. and therefore without any dissolved gas of significance.Quantitative Assessment So far we have been talking in rather generalized terms. just what these changes amount to. or hope to find. there is no way that we can know precisely how much we have found: the geology. Note. You may see the engineers using the term STOOIP: stock tank oil originally in place. we have to clear a good deal of misunderstanding and misuse. What they think is beyond that in the accumulation. A bald figure for `recoverable reserves' is somewhat meaningless.69 10 . we are involved with a greater or less degree of uncertainty about quantities. This may be done via a standard deviation or by a statistical probability (see below). since we are never able to recover all of the oil that is down there in the reservoir. secondary reserves. unless we can be more specific about how we are going to produce them. or predict. let alone how much. Because anyway there is uncertainty about this amount. Recoverable reserves: The volume of oil that can actually be produced to surface from an accumulation.
faulting. but what happens between and beyond our well control? – Sw is the water saturation. and what is still there for the taking at a given date. DISCOVERED RESERVES Once a discovery of oil has been made. – N/G is the net to gross ratio. This can be pretty subjective. So we multiply the bulk volume of the reservoir in the trap by those factors that represent the non-oil. to cover the reserves that have only a 15 or 10 per cent chance of being present. BV will be determined from seismic and well data. `probable'. 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.Sw)] * RF * Constant FVF where: – BV is the volume of the reservoir formation within the closure of the trap above the spill-point. They refer respectively to what was there and recoverable before we started producing. if we hear simply about `reserves'. meaning that we have to try to interpret in detail the environments that the sediments were deposited in. and `possible' altogether. This will be controlled by variations in the nature of the sediments that comprise the reservoir. like `proven'. We do our best from measurements on core samples and from wireline log interpretation.70 confidence or statistical probability. if we do. Again we need an average value for the field. It is affected by many factors. What this means and how we arrive at the figure. – FVF is the formation volume factor. the higher will be the water saturation. . We then eliminate progressively everything from this volume that is not oil. It may well be that it is best to avoid the terms `proven'. including the adequacy of the source rock to provide enough oil to the trap. Sometimes `possible' is also seen. The shape of the trap. – ? is the porosity. in this case 50 per cent. or rather the average porosity of the net reservoir across the entire accumulation. then we can go straight to the bulk reservoir volume containing the oil. which is the percentage of the bulk volume that actually contains the oil. Probable reserves: Equally dodgy! One definition was given above: the term may be used. Usually. then this factor may be little more than a guess. – Fill is the `fill factor'. we shall see shortly.Quantitative Assessment . 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. even when we have information from a lot of wells. the volume of the gas cap and the water-bearing rock below the oil-water contact being discounted. it shrinks because gas bubbles out of it as its pressure is eased during production. and just to qualify our figures by statistical probabilities: at least then people would know what is meant! Original and remaining reserves: These are fairly obvious. and the thickness of the reservoir govern it. What anyway should we regard as net reservoir? A rather arbitrary porosity cut-off value is often used. it is the remaining reserves. to refer to a degree of confidence or probability. Not all of a reservoir formation is going to be sufficiently porous and permeable to contribute oil to production. that are meant. 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. and the quality and strength of the cap rock. 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. Recoverable reserves = [BV * Fill * N/G * ? * (1 . the percentage of the porosity that is occupied by the immovable water. We have to discount those parts of it that are useless and just consider the net reservoir thickness. and regional and local geological interpretation. If we do not know where the gas-oil and oil-water contacts are.
we shall find that the bulk of them tend to cluster round the middle (Fig. If we are working entirely in the metric system. the proportion of the oil in the reservoir that we can actually recover and produce. this is commonly about 50-60 per cent. the problem is tackled through a statistical technique. Then we get a computer to pick a value for each factor at random from the range we have given. What we are doing. then. having regard to all of the geology. and to try to be as honest and objective as possible. and then analysed statistically. and again. Instead of estimating single figures for the factors that go into the reserves formula. we have to multiply the figure we calculate by 7758. even though they may be well aware that any such figures will eventually turn out to be wrong.Quantitative Assessment . until we begin to wonder whether our answer has any reality or meaning at all. there must be considerable uncertainty to say the least. maybe 500 or 1000 times. and arrive at perhaps wildly different answers. and governments must have numbers that they can use for planning purposes. Different geologists will certainly come up with different values for at least some of the input factors.71 – – RF is the recovery factor. for this average value. It is a figure that we cannot know exactly until we have finished producing. our best estimate. in producing figures for all of these factors. any one of which could be the real value. but it may be a good deal less from carbonates. 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. So we have a whole list of answers. The Americans measure reservoir volume in acre-feet: area in acres multiplied by reservoir thickness in feet.. and again. for each of the factors we work out our best estimate. doubtful estimates by doubtful estimates. A constant is needed to adjust the units. Most commonly these days. is to multiply uncertainties by uncertainties. somewhere within which the `true' figure must be. we can work out the standard deviation (the ±) which will give an idea of our confidence in our answer. and we also specify the total range. Alternatively one may plot the frequencies as percentages of the total number of answers: the statistical probabilities. however. Diagrammatic plots of the outputs from two Monte Carlo simulations. Then we ask it to do the same thing again. 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. known as a Monte Carlo simulation. then we don't have to worry. It will be clear to anyone that. but biassing its pick towards our best estimate. If we plot out the answers on our list falling within successive size ranges (in barrels of oil). Note that the preferred answer that is usually used is the mean value.This is because.). The computer does the sum using these values. More commonly. we give as our preferred figure the average of all the answers (the mean). since it is about this that the standard deviation can be calculated.. companies. To get an answer to our sum in barrels of oil. In a sandstone reservoir. from minimum possible to maximum possible. . Who is right? Whose answer should we use? Can we indeed believe any of them? Unfortunately we cannot escape from the problem. So we usually have to base our estimate on prior experience elsewhere.
and then merely combine the probabilities to give an overall probability . for geological reasons. say. we can plot out the percentages of answers in successive size ranges cumulatively as we work down the list (Fig. For example. you may say. and possible at. we can read off from the graph the chances of our field containing that much oil or more.72 The output from a Monte Carlo simulation with the percentages plotted cumulatively. Indeed it does not! When we are looking at exploration of the unknown. the curve represents the chance (probability) that the reserves are a certain size or greater. We try to assess the probability that each factor will be satisfied. And if all this sounds like a gambling game. management can then decide whether or not to take the gamble on developing the field at those odds. It will give a graph which shows the probability that the reserves will be of a certain size or more. Of course we try to be as scientific. So this type of graph has now become one of the standard key tools in exploration/development decision. 50. objective. We have to give not only our best estimate of how much petroleum there might be. This chance (probability) is known as the risk factor: it is an expression. and ensures that all possibilities are considered. if any one of them fails or is lacking. It cannot be worked out completely objectively.the risk factor. to give the chance of discovering certain reserves or more including the 50 per cent chance that we may find nothing at all. It is this sort of thing that helps to make the oil exploration business so competitive. It is also used to assist management in making their exploration/development decisions. the 90. The risk factor. and 10 per cent levels of probability respectively. In the lower plot. it doesn't take any account of the fact that our exploration well may. 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. and honest as can be in assessing exploration risk.). but it assumes that we have already discovered oil. . Most usefully. When it comes down to risk. of our confidence that there will be at least some oil. there really is no such thing as the risk factor. if the engineers say that a field of so many million barrels is going to be needed to justify development and production costs. This is what is used to determine those reserves that may be called proven. but also the chance of there in fact being any oil at all. that is exactly what it is. combined with the estimate of how much. we have to go a stage further. in numbers.Quantitative Assessment . different geologists will arrive at different figures for the probability of success. probable. UNDISCOVERED RESERVES This is all very well. but rather it is the number an individual geologist might produce to reflect his/her personal interpretation of the geology. now gives a more complete picture of the viability of an undrilled prospect . 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. Incidently. as opposed to assessing what we already know to be there. turn out to be totally dry-lacking in hydrocarbons. By plotting the answers from the 100 per cent probability downwards. the same values are discounted by a 50 per cent risk factor. then no oil. perhaps.at least until we start also considering the costs and economics.
If we have a reasonable amount of information and control. knowing how rich it is. We could adopt what is known as a `geochemical material balance' approach. Delphi was the place in ancient Greece where one went to consult the oracle about one's future. is a hypothetical figure. let us note a number known as the risked reserves. for example. This starts with the volume of mature source rock in the basin and then. we can. Let us look at the more important ones. however.). go for a large but very risky prospect. ULTIMATE RESERVES So far we have been talking about a single oil accumulation or a single prospect. Many `experts' have scratched their heads over the estimation of undiscovered reserves. 2. Adding this to the original reserves will give us what is sometimes called the `ultimate reserves'-a grand total for the basin. Extrapolate this smoothing line out into the future. for our `best estimate'. We could make comparisons between known and unknown basins. unless we really have a lot of information (we never have enough!). expelled. merely use the average of the figures they produce. qualify it by a statistical probability. sometimes in combination. The obvious thing to do is to add together the risked reserves estimates of all the remaining prospects. However. if we draw a smooth line through it to even out the peaks and the troughs. This is known as the Delphi technique. 5. on average. Forcing these experts to agree a figure amongst them might refine the approach. In a similar vein the amount of oil found world-wide each year from the beginning of the century can be plotted. we have to assume that today we can identify and assess all of the prospects that ever will be found in the basin. and as such can be very useful in planning an exploration program. But we have to admit that. Undiscovered are thus what we hope to find in a prospect area or sedimentary basin in the future. 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. 3. and made available for entrapment (the `charge') can be calculated. to believe that we can do this would be the height of conceit.Quantitative Assessment .73 Lastly. This combines in a single estimate. Some of these will be successful. the expected reserve estimates from our Monte Carlo simulation multiplied (discounted) by the risk factor (Fig. then the area under it represents the total volume of oil found to date. There are lots of uncertainties in this but the calculation would be amenable to a Monte Carlo type of simulation. otherwise we may be doing little more than guessing. 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 are said to be consulting the oracles! All of the above techniques have been used. However. this technique may bring us into the right ball-park. and some may be more appropriate in given circumstances than the others. the amount of oil generated. all of them are very dodgy . however. and the area under that bit will represent what. but some will be dry. get a number of experts to make their forecasts by whatever technique they prefer and. it is a pretty wild sort of plot. the two elements of size and chance of success. or underlying each square mile of surface area. and use the figures for the known also for the unknown ones. on this tack. This kind of plot can be used also for individual basins or for the whole world. 4. Should we. and a number of techniques have been employed. If all else fails. then use these figures for the unexplored parts of the basin. This figure is extremely imprecise and may be not much more than a guess. We might look at explored and known parts of the basin. remains to be found. Use past statistics (number of barrels of oil found on average for each 100m of exploration drilling?) and extrapolate to future drilling. the built-in risk factor takes care of this. or would our money be better spent on drilling a smaller but safer one? The risked reserves. 1. and calculate average quantities of oil per cubic mile of sediment. 6.
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