Petroleum Geology


Petroleum geology is the study of origin, occurrence, movement, accumulation, and exploration of hydrocarbon fuels. It refers to the specific set of geological disciplines that are applied to the search for hydrocarbons (oil exploration).



Petroleum geology is principally concerned with the evaluation of seven key elements in sedimentary basins:



A structural trap, where a fault has juxtaposed a porous and permeable reservoir against an impermeable seal. Oil (shown in red) accumulates against the seal, to the depth of the base of the seal. Any further oil migrating in from the source will escape to the surface and seep.



Evaluation of the source uses the methods of geochemistry to quantify the nature of organic-rich rocks which contain the precursors to hydrocarbons, such that the type and quality of expelled hydrocarbon can be assessed. The reservoir is a porous and permeable lithological unit or set of units that holds the hydrocarbon reserves. Analysis of reservoirs at the simplest level requires an assessment of their porosity (to calculate the volume of in situ hydrocarbons) and their permeability (to calculate how easily hydrocarbons will flow out of them). Some of the key disciplines used in reservoir analysis are the fields of structural analysis, stratigraphy, sedimentology, and reservoir engineering. The seal, or cap rock, is a unit with low permeability that impedes the escape of hydrocarbons from the reservoir rock. Common seals include evaporites, chalks, and shales. Analysis of seals involves assessment of their thickness and extent, such that their effectiveness can be quantified.


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