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2.

The petroleum system

OR:

Oil: how it forms and how to find it

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Geologic aspects needed for a play

We need a combination of:

1. A source rock
2. A reservoir rock (clastic or carbonate)
3. A seal
4. A trap (structural or stratigraphic)
5. Maturation, migration and timing

If all these are present, a subsurface hydrocarbon


accumulation will be formed and can be found

[These are sometimes called the “Five steps to heaven”]

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Source rocks

• Organic-rich rocks (at least 2% Organic Matter)

• Algal or animal remains: Type 1 and 2 kerogens Oil

• Plant remains (including coal: Type 3 kerogen Gas

• Need non-oxidising conditions of deposition

• Until buried deeply enough it is a “potential” source rock

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


The “Kimm Clay”

• xxx

• Kimmeridge Clay: Dorset


• 156 million years old
• Main source rock in NW Europe

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Kerogen

Kerogen is a mixture of different types


of organic material, not a specific
molecule, and no chemical formula
can be written.

A typical elemental proportion would


be: C 215: H 330: O 12: N 5: S 1

The Van Krevelen diagram shows the


distinction of types I, II and III kerogen

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Reservoir rocks

• Porous rocks (5-35%)

• Can be clastic (e.g. sandstone) or carbonate (e.g. limestone)

• Porosity expressed as % (storage capacity)

• Porosity must be connected to allow fluids to flow

• Permeability, in Darcies or millidarcies (flow capacity)

• Increased burial tends to lead to poroperm loss

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Reservoir rocks

Permian reservoir rocks in Scotland – main reservoir for UK gas

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Porosity – storage capacity

Permeability – ability to flow

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Seal rocks

• Impermeable rocks that can prevent migration

• Can be clastic (e.g. mudstone) or evaporite (e.g. salt)

• Typically very low porosity and extremely low permeability

• Best seal (or cap) rocks deform in a plastic manner

• Increased burial can change the properties of a seal rock

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Folded evaporites

(c) Randy Marrett, U Texas


GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience
Traps

• Can be structural or stratigraphic

• The bigger the better!

• Need to be in combination with a seal

• Can be seen at the surface in some cases

• Deeply buried traps cannot be seen

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Traps – the diving bell analogy

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


A seal and a trap together
SW Zagros Mountains salt dome
(Kuh-e-Namak or “mountain of
salt” in Farsi).

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Maturation and yield

Relationship between temperature and depth is important

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Geothermal gradient

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Putting it together

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


A 60 year-old lesson

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


The process of exploration

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Stages in a project

• Exploration • Country screening – newspaper (USD1)


• Appraisal • Geological screening (1 week of work)
• Development • Cheap thinking (1-3 month’s work)
• Management • Acquire medium cost data (<USD5M)
• Abandonment • Go for expensive drilling (USD20M+++)
Decision point – be prepared to stop work

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Country screening

Would you start an exploration project in Syria now?

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Geological screening

Libraries are a cheap source of


150 years of data

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Cheap thinking

Marine gravity data is free

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Cheap thinking

= Middle Jurassic reservoirs of the North Sea

Analogues
GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience
Medium-cost data – seismic reflection

Vibroseis trucks
GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience
Seismic acquisition

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


A marine 3D survey

3D

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


A seismic line – interpretation demo

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Our aim

To achieve the best 3D graphic


representation of the Earth, to
aid in the exploration and
development of hydrocarbon drilling

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience


Expensive drilling ...

... can be VERY expensive

But if you don’t


drill, you don’t find
hydrocarbons!

GL5033 Fundamentals of petroleum geoscience