H. I. Petersena,*, Vu Trub, L. H. Nielsena, Nguyen A. Ducb and H. P. Nytofta

aGeological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.

bVietnam Petroleum Institute, Yen Hoa, Cau Giay, Hanoi, Vietnam

*corresponding author:

Oligocene lacustrine mudstones and coals of the Dong Ho Formation outcropping around Dong Ho, at the northern margin of the mainly offshore Cenozoic Song Hong Basin (northern Vietnam), include highly oil-prone potential source rocks. Mudstone and coal samples were collected and analysed for their content of total organic carbon and total sulphur, and source rock screening data were obtained by Rock-Eval pyrolysis. The organic matter composition in a number of samples was analysed by reflected light microscopy. In addition, two coal samples were subjected to progressive hydrous pyrolysis in order to study their oil generation characteristics, including the compositional evolution in the extracts from the pyrolysed samples. The organic material in the mudstones is mainly composed of fluorescing amorphous organic matter, liptodetrinite and alginite with Botryococcus-morphology (corresponding to Type I kerogen). The mudstones contain up to 19.6 wt% TOC and Hydrogen Index values are 436–572 mg HC/g TOC. From a pyrolysis S2 versus TOC plot it is estimated that about 55% of the mudstones’ TOC can be pyrolised into hydrocarbons; the plot also suggests that a minimum content of only 0.5 wt.% TOC is required to saturate the source rock to the expulsion threshold.

Humic coals and coaly mudstones have Hydrogen Index values of 318–409 mg HC/g TOC. They are dominated by huminite (Type III kerogen) and generally contain a significant proportion of terrestrial-derived liptodetrinite. Upon artificial maturation by hydrous pyrolysis, the coals generate significant quantities of saturated hydrocarbons, which are probably expelled at or before a maturity corresponding to a vitrinite reflectance of 0.97%Ro. This is earlier than previously indicated from Dong Ho Formation coals with a lower source potential.

The composition of a newly discovered oil (well B10-STB-1x ) at the NE margin of the Song Hong Basin is consistent with contributions from both source rocks, and is encouraging for the prospectivity of offshore half-grabens in the Song Hong Basin.

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