Henrik I. Petersen* and Michael Hertle*+#

* Total Upstream Danmark A/S, Exploration, Copenhagen, Denmark

# Present address: Total, Petroleum Evaluation Team, Paris, France

+ Corresponding author: michael.hertle@total.com

Key words: source rock, original generation potential, shale, Farsund Formation, Upper Jurassic – lowermost Cretaceous, Danish Central Graben, North Sea.

The Danish Central Graben, North Sea, is a mature oil- and gas-producing basin in which the principal source rocks are the Upper Jurassic – lowermost Cretaceous marine shales of the Farsund Formation (Kimmeridge Clay Formation equivalent), with possible additional potential in the directly underlying Lola Formation. This study investigates the initial source rock potential of the basin by evaluating the original (back-calculated) source rock properties (TOCo, S2o, HIo) of the shales in the Farsund and Lola Formations within a temporal and spatial framework. About 4800 samples from 81 wells regionally distributed in the Danish Central Graben were included in the study. Samples for source rock analysis were in general collected with varying sampling density from the entire shale section. The shale section has been divided into seven units (referred to as pre-FSU1 to FSU6; FSU: Farsund Seismic Unit) which are delineated by mappable, regional-scale seismic markers. For the pre-FSU1 and FSU2–FSU6 units, the number of available samples ranged from 608 to 1145, while 433 samples were available for FSU1. Good source rock quality varies through space and time and reflects both the structural development of the basin and the effects of the Late Jurassic transgression, with primary kitchen areas developing in the Tail End Graben, Feda Graben, Gertrud Graben and the Rosa Basin. The source rock quality of the shales increases gradually through time and reaches a maximum in FSU6 which includes the “hot shales” of the Bo Member. The maximum source rock quality appears to correspond to an original Hydrogen Index (HIo) of approximately 675 mg HC/g TOC. The proportion of oil-prone samples per unit (with HIo >350 mg HC/g TOC) ranges from 7 to 11% in the pre-FSU1 to FSU2 units (Lower Kimmeridgian – Lower Volgian), increasing to 18 – 22% in FSU3 and FSU4/FSU5 (Lower Volgian – Middle Volgian), and reaching a maximum of 53% in FSU6 (Upper Volgian – Ryazanian). FSU6 is the most prolific oil-prone source rock interval, but the presence of oil-prone intervals in older and deeper parts of the shale succession is important for assessing the generation potential of the Upper Jurassic petroleum system. The breakdown of the Upper Jurassic – lowermost Cretaceous shale section into mappable seismic units with assigned original source rock properties will contribute to a considerably improved understanding of the temporal and spatial distributions of source rock quality in the Danish Central Graben.

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