Bang Liu1* Lunkun Wan1, Fengjun Mao1, Jiguo Liu1, Mingsheng 1,2 and Yuhua Wang1

1 Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development, PetroChina, Beijing 100083, China.

2 China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Corporation, PetroChina, Beijing, 100034, China.

*Corresponding author:  liubang@petrochina.com.cn

Upper Cretaceous mudstones are the most important source rocks in the Termit Basin, SE Niger. For this study, 184 mudstone samples from the Santonian–Campanian Yogou Formation and the underlying Cenomanian–Coniacian Donga Formation from eight wells were analyzed on the basis of palaeontological, petrographical and geochemical data, the latter including the results of Rock-Eval, biomarker and stable isotope analyses. Samples from the upper member of the Yogou Formation contain marine algae and ostracods together with freshwater algae (Pediastrum) and arenaceous foraminifera, indicating a shallow-marine to paralic depositional environment with fresh- to brackish waters. Terrestrial pollen and spores are common and of high diversity, suggesting proximity to land. Samples from the lower member contain marine algae and ostracods and arenaceous foraminifera but without freshwater algae, indicating shallow-marine and brackish-water settings with less freshwater influence.

The wide range of gammacerane index values, gammacerane/C30 hopane (0.07-0.5) and Pr/Ph ratios (0.63-4.68) in samples from the upper member of the Yogou Formation suggest a low to moderately saline environment with oxic to anoxic conditions. In samples from the lower member, the narrower range of the gammacerane index (0.23~0.35) and Pr/Ph ratios (0.76-1.36) probably indicate a moderately saline environment with suboxic to relatively anoxic conditions.

Petrographic analyses of the Yogou Formation samples show that organic matter is dominated by terrestrial higher plant material with vitrinite, inertinite and specific liptinites (sporinite, cutinite and resinite). Extracts are characterized by a dominance of C29 steranes over C27 and C28 homologues. Results of pyrolysis and elemental analyses indicate that the organic matter is composed mainly of Type II kerogen grading to mixed Type II-III and Type III material with poor to excellent petroleum potential. Mudstones from the upper member of the Yogou Formation have higher petroleum generation potential than those from the lower member. Mudstones in the Donga Formation are dominated by Type III organic matter with poor to fair petroleum generation potential.

Geochemical parameters indicate that in terms of thermal maturity the Yogou Formations has reached or surpassed the early phase of oil generation. Samples have Tmax values and 20S/(20S+20R) C29 sterane ratios greater than 435oC and 0.35, respectively. 22S/(22S+22R) ratios of C31 homohopanes range from 0.50 to 0.54.

The results of this study will help to provide a better understanding of the hydrocarbon potential of Upper Cretaceous marine source rocks in the Termit Basin and also in coeval intracontinental rift basins such as the Tenere Basin (Niger), Bornu Basin (Nigeria) and Benue Trough (Nigeria).

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