H. I. Petersen+* and M. Hertle+

+ Maersk Oil, Amerika Plads 29, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

* Corresponding author: henrik.ingermann.petersen@maerskoil.com

This paper reviews the Middle Jurassic petroleum system in the Danish Central Graben with a focus on source rock quality, fluid compositions and distributions, and the maturation and generation history. The North Sea including the Danish Central Graben is a mature oil province where the primary source rock is composed of Upper Jurassic – lowermost Cretaceous marine shales. Most of the shale-sourced structures have been drilled and, to accommodate continued value creation, additional exploration opportunities are increasingly considered in E&P strategies. Triassic and Jurassic sandstone plays charged from coaly Middle Jurassic source rocks have proven to be economically viable in the North Sea. In the Danish-Norwegian Søgne Basin, coal-derived gas/condensate is produced from the Harald and Trym fields and oil from the Lulita field; the giant Culzean gas-condensate field is under development in the UK Central North Sea; and in the Norwegian South Viking Graben, coal-derived gas and gas-condensate occur in several fields. The coaly source rock of the Middle Jurassic petroleum system in the greater North Sea is included in the Bryne/Lulu Formations (in Denmark), the Pentland Formation (in the UK), and the Sleipner and Hugin Formations in Norway. In the Danish Central Graben, the coal-bearing unit is composed of coals, coaly shales and carbonaceous shales, has a regional distribution and can be mapped seismically as the 'Coal Marker'. The coaly source rocks are primarily gas-prone but the coals have an average Hydrogen Index value of c. 280 mg HC/g TOC and values above 300 mg HC/g TOC are not uncommon, which underpins the coals’ capacity to generate liquid hydrocarbons (condensate and oil). The coal-sourced liquids are differentiated from the common marine-sourced oils by characteristic biomarker and isotope compositions, and in the Danish Central Graben are grouped into specific oil families composed of coal-sourced oil and mixed oils with a significant coaly contribution. Similarly, the coal-sourced gases are recognized by a normally heavier isotope signature and a relatively high dryness coefficient compared to oil-associated gas derived from marine shales. The coal-derived and mixed coaly gases are likewise assigned to well-defined gas families. Coal-derived liquids and gas discoveries and shows in Middle Jurassic strata suggest that the coaly Middle Jurassic petroleum system has a regional distribution. A 3D petroleum systems model was constructed covering the Danish Central Graben. The model shows that present-day temperatures for the Middle Jurassic coal source rock ('Coal Marker') are relatively high (>150 °C) throughout most of the Danish Central Graben, and expulsion of hydrocarbons from the ‘Coal Marker’ was initiated in Late Jurassic time in the deep Tail End Graben. In the Cretaceous, the area of mature coaly source rocks expanded, and at present day nearly the whole area is mature. Hydrocarbon expulsion rates were low in the Paleocene to Late Oligocene, followed by significant expulsion in the Miocene up to the present day. High Middle Jurassic reservoir temperatures prevent biodegradation.

Key words: Coal, source rock, oil, gas, petroleum system, basin modelling, Middle Jurassic, Danish Central Graben, North Sea.

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