A. Akinlua1* and T. R. Ajayi2

1 Fossil Fuel and Environmental Research Group, Department of Chemistry, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

2 Department of Geology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

* Corresponding author, email:

Oil samples from six oilfields in the Central Niger Delta were analyzed for normal alkanes, aliphatic isoprenoid hydrocarbons, aromatic hydrocarbons and biomarkers using gas chromatography (GC) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The study was carried out with the aim of assessing the origin and thermal maturity of the oils and the depositional environment of the organic matter from which they were derived, and to evaluate similarities (or differences) among the oils from the Central Niger Delta in comparison to those from other parts of the Delta. The ratios of n-alkanes and aliphatic isoprenoids showed that Pr/nC17 ranged from 0.56 to 0.86 while Ph/nC18 ranged from 0.22 to 0.31  indicating that the oils were derived from organic matter of both terrestrial and marine origin. Pristane/phytane ratios ranged from 2.67 to 3.50, suggesting that the organic matter was deposited in generally oxidizing environments. The oleanane index, which ranged from 0.07 to 1.39, and other biomarker data also indicate contributions from both marine and terrestrial organic matter. Both saturated and aromatic hydrocarbon biomarker data indicate that the oils are thermally mature. The study showed that the Central Niger Delta oils have organic geochemical characteristics similar to those of oils from other parts of the Delta. However, there is a striking difference in the distribution of aromatic hydrocarbons, and this may in future be used as a tool with which oils from different parts of the Delta can be differentiated.

Key words: Central Niger Delta, organic geochemistry, thermal maturity, biomarkers.

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