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Petroleum system modeling capabilities for use in oil and gas resource assessments

April 2, 2006

Summary: Petroleum resource assessments are among the most highly visible and frequently cited scientific products of the U.S. Geological Survey. The assessments integrate diverse and extensive information on the geologic, geochemical, and petroleum production histories of provinces and regions of the United States and the World. Petroleum systems modeling incorporates these geoscience data in ways that strengthen the assessment process and results are presented visually and numerically. The purpose of this report is to outline the requirements, advantages, and limitations of one-dimensional (1-D), two-dimensional (2-D), and three-dimensional (3-D) petroleum systems modeling that can be applied to the assessment of oil and gas resources. Primary focus is on the application of the Integrated Exploration Systems (IES) PetroMod? software because of familiarity with that program as well as the emphasis by the USGS Energy Program on standardizing to one modeling application. The Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) is used to demonstrate the use of the PetroMod? software.

Petroleum systems modeling quantitatively extends the 'total petroleum systems' (TPS) concept (Magoon and Dow, 1994; Magoon and Schmoker, 2000) that is employed in USGS resource assessments. Modeling allows integration of state-of-the-art analysis techniques, and provides the means to test and refine understanding of oil and gas generation, migration, and accumulation. Results of modeling are presented visually, numerically, and statistically, which enhances interpretation of the processes that affect TPSs through time. Modeling also provides a framework for the input and processing of many kinds of data essential in resource assessment, including (1) petroleum system elements such as reservoir, seal, and source rock intervals; (2) timing of depositional, hiatus, and erosional events and their influences on petroleum systems; (3) incorporation of vertical and lateral distribution and lithologies of strata that compose the petroleum systems; and (4) calculations of pressure-volume-temperature (PVT) histories. As digital data on petroleum systems continue to expand, the models can integrate these data into USGS resource assessments by building and displaying, through time, areas of petroleum generation, migration pathways, accumulations, and relative contributions of source rocks to the hydrocarbon components.

IES PetroMod? 1-D, 2-D, and 3-D models are integrated such that each uses the same variables for petroleum systems modeling. 1-D burial history models are point locations, mainly wells. Maps and cross-sections model geologic information in two dimensions and can incorporate direct input of 2-D seismic data and interpretations using various formats. Both 1-D and 2-D models use data essential for assessments and, following data compilation, they can be completed in hours and retested in minutes. Such models should be built early in the geologic assessment process, inasmuch as they incorporate the petroleum system elements of reservoir, source, and seal rock intervals with associated lithologies and depositional and erosional ages. The models can be used to delineate the petroleum systems. A number of 1-D and 2-D models can be constructed across a geologic province and used by the assessment geologists as a 3-D framework of processes that control petroleum generation, migration, and accumulation. The primary limitation of these models is that they only represent generation, migration, and accumulation in two dimensions.

3-D models are generally built at reservoir to basin scales. They provide a much more detailed and realistic representation of petroleum systems than 1-D or 2-D models because they portray more fully the temporal and physical relations among (1) burial history; (2) lithologies and associated changes through burial in porosity, permeability, and compaction; (3) hydrodynamic effects; and (4) other parameters that influence petroleum gen

Citation Information

Publication Year 2006
Title Petroleum system modeling capabilities for use in oil and gas resource assessments
DOI 10.3133/ofr20061024
Authors Debra K. Higley, Michael Lewan, Laura N.R. Roberts, Mitchell E. Henry
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2006-1024
Index ID ofr20061024
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization