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F. Rodriguez *, Graciela Olea , Daniel Delpino , Roger Baudino , Mirta Suarez

a a a b a

a Gerencia de Exploracin Argentina Onshore. Repsol-YPF. Talero 360. Q8300IEH Neuqun. Argentina. b Gerencia de Exploracin ABB. Repsol-YPF Exploracin. Esmeralda 255. C1035ABE Buenos Aires. Argentina. *Corresponding author: Tel.: +542994492800; fax: +542994492974. E-mail address: frodriguezmo@repsolypf.com

Complex overpressured systems of the Neuquen Basin center are discussed in this study with a basin modeling approach. Enormous amounts of hydrocarbons have been generated by the Jurassic Los Molles Fm. in this area. This type III marine source rock reaches thicknesses of more than 1000 m with TOC values in the range of 1- 3.5 % (Fig. 1). Vitrinite reflectance values of 1 - 2.5 % show present time overmaturity of the source rock. Widespread overpressured gas accumulations have been found in the overlying Jurassic sediments. Lajas Fm. tight sands are the main reservoirs. Some recent oil and gas discoveries have also been made in fractured carbonates and Tertiary sills. The Cretaceous Auquilco Fm. evaporites act as an effective regional seal for this petroleum system. Multi-1D and 2D regional models were satisfactorily calibrated for temperature, maturity, pressure and known accumulations. Models showed that generation occurred between 150 and 50 Ma. Up to 500 billion barrels of oil equivalent were generated in this area. Deposition of a Cretaceous evaporitic regional seal and a later overburden developed a highly overpressured system. Tertiary sills intruded in the Los Molles-Lajas Fms. contact were charged by retarded hydrocarbon expulsion related to source rock undercompaction. Despite the lack of effective migration pathways, long distance migration occurred and it is still active (Fig. 2). Fluids migrate towards the basin edge where the pinch out of the evaporites allows for overpressure dissipation. Fluid inclusions and geochemical oils and gas analyses show several migration pulses of a wide maturity range of products. Diamondoids and GC analyses done in oils from shallow reservoirs are proof of mixing processes with high maturity hydrocarbon. These as evidence suggest the probable occurrence of deep accumulations in undrilled old structures located in the migration pathway (Fig. 3 & 4). Basin modeling and geochemical analyses were helpful: to calculate generated volumes, to understand young traps charge and to predict long distance accumulations that opened new exploration opportunities in this basin.

1. Regional setting

2. Basin center stratigraphic column

3. W - E schematic crosssection
The Jurassic Cuyo and Lotena Sedimentary sequences form an overpressured basincentered gas system. It is semi-confined by regional evaporites underneath. The main source rock is the 1000 m thick type III Los Molles Fm. The main reservoirs are tight deltaic sandstones, fractured carbonates and Tertiary sills.
From Delpino, Brisson & Veiga

M1D model 2D model

Cuyo & Lotena Groups

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4. Los Molles source rock

Interpreted SW-NE seismic line
Prograding deltaic shales Progradading deltaic sandstones Deltaic front prograding t shales Deltaic front agrading shales Transgressive shales

5. 2D & Multi-1D modeling

SW-NE modeled section Overpressure (Mpa) & migration 80 Ma Pressure (Mpa) vs Time in a basin center well

Lajas sandstones

Los Molles source rock

Present day pressure in subsalt sediments is 40-60 Mpa (58008700 PSI)

Pressure calibration in a basin center well

Water flow



HC flow

Organofacies distribution
Basin Center Well Platform Well NE

Lajas sandstones
IHo 100 mg/g COT COTo 1%

Fluids migrate towards the Platform area where the regional evaporitic seal pinchs out and the overpressure is dissipated.

Los Molles Source Rock

IHo 200 mg/g COT COTo 1.5 % IHo 250 mg Hc/g COT COTo 2%



Overpressure and migration at present time

Los Molles present time overmaturity

Los Molles HC modeled accumulations at present time

IHo 350 mg Hc/g COT COTo 3%

Mesured COT in a Basin Center Well

0.00 3700 3900 4100 4300 4500 4700 4900 5100 5300 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00

TR 90 % Ro 2-4%

COT 2%

1000 m

COT 3%

Los Molles Generation 130-80 Ma

Fluids migration helps for the slow pressure dropout. This process is active at present time and it will continue in the future.

Modeled HC non proven subsalt accumulations.

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5. Geochemical evidences evidence

Geochemistry of gases Fluid inclusions in G. Cuyo&Lotena

6. Generated volume & Exploration upside

HC Generated from Los Molles source rock in the study area: 500 BBOE Petroleum System effectiveness: 1% OOIP: 5 BBOE Recovery Factor : 65% Resources: 3.25 BBOE = 18.250 BCF
Diamondoids in shallow oil fields

7. Where are the HC from Los Molles source rock?

Most ofof the HC generated by Los Molles source rock rock Most the HC generated by Los Molles source should remain unexpelled in thein source or rock or should remain unexpelled the rock source accumulated tight sandstones. little percentage but accumulated inintight sandstones. AA little percentage but volumetrically very significant (3.25 BBOE) could volumetrically very significant (3.25 BBOE) could be be accumulated in conventional reservoirs (fluvial accumulated in conventional reservoirs (fluvial sandstones and carbonates) in old undrilled structures . sandstones and carbonates) in old undrilled structures .
Los Molles subsalt accumulations at present time
M1D Model

Dry Gas MaturityWet Maturity

ge ed ies ort ap Ev

Lo de s M po o s it lle ion s s l al ou e d ed rce o M ge ro ck2D

Modeled 2D Section


Biomarcadores vs. Diamantoides (a partir de GCMS de Saturados)

BP -21

C29aaR Esterano (ppm)

Madurez Creciente


Mixing in shallow reservoirs with an input of mature Los Molles HC coming from deep undiscovered undiscovered accumulations? accumulations?
Petrleo entero

(in subsalt conventional reservoirs, there should be much more in tight sands)



0.5 %
LoAm.x-1 RDP.x-1 Madurez Creciente ASR-106

of world gas resources of South America resources Loma la Lata (biggest gas field in Argentina)



Deep reservoirs Shallow reservoirs Shallow reservoirs




40 60 80 100

LLL-94 0


3-Metildiamantano + 4-Metildiamantano (ppm)

Fluid inclusions show different migration pulses until recent time. ti me. Diomondois Diomondois suggest suggest leaking leaking from deep undiscovered accumulations. The presence of mature gases gas esform formLos LosMolles MollesFm. Fm.in in the Platform area support the long distance migration model. Modeled undrilled structures are Mod eled undrilled structures are in the the migration migration pathway. pathway. in


l e d o


Enormous amounts of hydrocarbons have been generated by the Jurassic 1000 m thick Los Molles Fm in the Neuquen Basin. The development of a semi-confined petroleum system in the b a s i n centered subsalt sediments resultsresults in 15 MPa overpressure. Basin models show that these anomalous are being dissipated bydiss the migration (water & HC) towards basin basin centered subsalt sediments in 15 MPa overpressure. Basin models show that these pressures anomalous pressures are being ipated of byfluids the migration of fluids (waterthe & HC) edge until present time and it will continue in the future. Although most of the hydrocarbons are probably accumulated in the basin centered tight sandstones, new sedimentary models suggest that good quality subsalt fluvial sandstones and carbonates should be present in old structures 3000-4000 m deep. These new migration and geological models supported by recent geochemical analyses suggest a promising exploration upside in the main structures of the basin that remain undrilled for these deep objectives.
Dahl, J.E., Moldowan, J.M., Peters, K.E., Claypool, G.E., Rooney, M.A., Michael, G.E., Mello, M.R., Kohnen, M.E.L., 1999. Diamondoid hydrocarbons as indicators of natural oil cracking. Nature 399, 54-57 Uliana, M.A., Legarreta, L., 1993. Hydrocarbons habitat in a Triassic to Cretaceous sub-Andean setting: Neuqun Basin, Argentina. Journal of Petroleum Geology 16, 397-420 Urien, C.M., Zambrano, J.J., 1994. Petroleum systems in the Neuquen Basin, Argentina. In: Magoon, L.B., Dow, W.G. (Eds.), The Petroleum System - from Source to Trap. AAPG Memoir 60, pp. 513-534.


AAPG Annual Conference & Exhibition April 20-23, San Antonio Texas

AAPG Annual Conference & Exhibition April 20-23, San Antonio Texas