PREDICTING THE TIMING AND CHARACTERISTICS OF PETROLEUM -FORMATION USING TAR-MATS AND PETROLEUM ASPHALTENES: A CASE STUDY FROM THE NORTHERN NORTH SEA

M. Keym1*+ and V. Dieckmann1

1GeoForschungsZentrum, Potsdam, Telegrafenberg, 14472 Potsdam, Germany.

* corresponding author: email: keym@gfz-potsdam.de

+ current address: IGI Ltd., Bideford, Devon, EX39 5HE, UK.

The Northern Viking Graben area in the Norwegian North Sea was studied in order to identify petroleum formation characteristics of the Upper Jurassic Draupne Formation. In this area the organofacies of the Draupne Formation, and consequently its petroleum generation characteristics, show significant variations. These variations represent a major risk, especially in the context of basin modelling studies .

Therefore, tar-mat asphaltens, oil asphaltenes and source-rock samples from this area were studied in order to evaluate the use of migrated asphaltenes from petroleum reservoirs and tar mats in basin modelling. The samples were studied using bulk kinetic analysis, open-system pyrolysis gas chromatography and elemental analyses, and the results were integrated into a basin modelling study. The results of the different sample materials were compared both to each other and to natural petroleum, in order to investigate their relevance for petroleum exploration activities.

We show that in cumulative petroleum systems, the transformation characteristics of these asphaltenes incorporates those of the individual source rock intervals which have contributed to the relevant reservoir system. Thus the petroleum formation window predicted by the use of asphaltene kinetics is broad, and covers the majority of the formation windows predicted from the individual source rock samples. In addition, the molecular characteristics of asphaltene-derived hydrocarbons show that compositional characteristics, such as aromaticity, correspond more closely to natural oils than to the respective source-rock products.

Our results confirm that the heterogeneous nature of the Draupne Formation results in a significantly broader petroleum formation window than is conventionally assumed. We show that oil and tar mat asphaltenes from related reservoirs represent macromolecules which account for this heterogeneity in the source rock, since they represent mixtures of charges from the different organofacies. One conclusion is that the use of oil and tar mat asphaltenes in kinetic studies and compositional predictions may significantly improve definitions of petroleum formation characteristics in basin modelling.

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