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Application of Analytical Techniques to Petroleum Systems

By Patrick J Dowey, Mark Osborne and Herbert Volk (Eds.)

9 June 2021

A petroleum system consists of a number of components including a mature source rock, a migration pathway, reservoir rock and fluids, a trap and seal. Each component must be studied at all scales from nanometres to kilometres. Such studies begin with samples of outcrop rocks, core and drill cuttings and fluid samples from seeps or wells. This multitude of physical property data is then placed in a geological framework of space and time and ‘interpreted’ to unravel the complexities of the hydrocarbon accumulation. Much laboratory detective work has to be undertaken to gather all the geological evidence that can identify this petroleum system. A broad range of analytical instruments and interpretation approaches are essential and Application of Analytical Techniques to Petroleum Systems discusses many of the new sophisticated technologies that can be used to gain this knowledge.

This 346-page volume is a wide-ranging exposé of modern analytical techniques, bringing together topics and case studies and written by leading authorities within internationally recognised laboratories. The 17 papers explore fluid and isotope geochemistry, organic geochemistry, imaging and sediment provenance. Each paper covers a different data collection method using complex and often expensive kit (e.g. p191): there are no detailed descriptions of the actual instruments, though, as these are found in instruction booklets.

Cutting-edge techniques and innovations in analytical approaches are emphasised, and how they can be applied to benefit the defining of the appropriate parts of the petroleum system. For example: mud gas isotopes to distinguish connected from disconnected reservoirs and the monitoring of gradual fluid movements; fluid inclusion petrography coupled with Raman spectroscopy to investigate the charge history of gas fields; and molecular and isotopic geochemistry of fluids to predict the occurrence and quality of oil and gas and its generation source. There are also chapters on: imaging using modern electron microscope systems by focused ion beam; SEM secondary ionisation MS to identify thermal maturity effects caused by compaction, cementation and secondary infilling; isotopic dating techniques; sophisticated gas chromatographic procedures to develop ideas on bitumen generation; and sediment provenance through sediment reworking.

Application of Analytical Techniques to Petroleum Systems illustrates how the current state-of-the-art instruments give results/interpretations to address the challenges of defining the petroleum system. The examples are presented in excellent clear relevant figures and this volume continues the high standards of the Geological Society Special Publication series. It should be in the library of any practicing geoscientist who is developing geological models in new(ish) prospects.

Reviewed by Richard Dawe

APPLICATION OF ANALYTICAL TECHNIQUES TO PETROLEUM SYSTEMS by PATRICK J DOWEY, MARK OSBORNE, and  HERBERT VOLK (EDS.), 2020. Published by the Geological Society, London. 346pp (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-78620-406-6 , List price £100. W: www.geolsoc.org.uk