Uguna, Clement N. and Carr, Andrew D. and Snape, Colin E. and Meredith, Will and Scotchman, Iain C. and Murray, Andrew and Vane, Christopher H.
Impact of high water pressure on oil generation and maturation in Kimmeridge Clay and Monterey source rocks: implications for petroleum retention and gas generation in shale gas systems.
Marine and Petroleum Geology, 73
This study presents results for pyrolysis experiments conducted on immature Type II and IIs source rocks (Kimmeridge Clay, Dorset UK, and Monterey shale, California, USA respectively) to investigate the impact of high water pressure on source rock maturation and petroleum (oil and gas) generation. Using a 25 ml Hastalloy vessel, the source rocks were pyrolysed at low (180 and 245 bar) and high (500, 700 and 900 bar) water pressure hydrous conditions at 350 °C and 380 °C for between 6 and 24 h. For the Kimmeridge Clay (KCF) at 350 °C, Rock Eval HI of the pyrolysed rock residues were 30–44 mg/g higher between 6 h and 12 h at 900 bar than at 180 bar. Also at 350 °C for 24 h the gas, expelled oil, and vitrinite reflectance (VR) were all reduced by 46%, 61%, and 0.25% Ro respectively at 900 bar compared with 180 bar. At 380 °C the retardation effect of pressure on the KCF was less significant for gas generation. However, oil yield and VR were reduced by 47% and 0.3% Ro respectively, and Rock Eval HI was also higher by 28 mg/g at 900 bar compared with 245 bar at 12 h. The huge decrease in gas and oil yields and the VR observed with an increase in water pressure at 350 °C for 24 h and 380 °C for 12 h (maximum oil generation) were also observed for all other times and temperatures investigated for the KCF and the Monterey shale. This shows that high water pressure significantly retards petroleum generation and source rock maturation. The retardation of oil generation and expulsion resulted in significant amounts of bitumen and oil being retained in the rocks pyrolysed at high pressures, suggesting that pressure is a possible mechanism for retaining petroleum (bitumen and oil) in source rocks. This retention of petroleum within the rock provides a mechanism for oil-prone source rocks to become potential shale gas reservoirs. The implications from this study are that in geological basins, pressure, temperature and time will all exert significant control on the extent of petroleum generation and source rock maturation for Type II source rocks, and that the petroleum retained in the rocks at high pressures may explain in part why oil-prone source rocks contain the most prolific shale gas resources.
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