The type section of the Oligocene to lower Miocene Maikop Group, considered the main source rock in the eastern Paratethys, has been studied using geochemical proxies to gain insights into depositional setting and hydrocarbon potential. The Maikop Group at the type section is approximately 600 m (2000 ft) thick. Deposition commenced after a major late Eocene sea level drop and a subsequent early Oligocene sea level rise. The Maikop Group is composed mainly of carbonate-free pelitic rocks. Calcareous rocks are limited to the lower Oligocene succession, including the Polbian Bed that forms a basin-wide marker horizon deposited during a time with significantly decreased salinity (Solenovian event). Anoxic conditions prevailed and were only interrupted for longer periods during deposition of the lower part of the lower Oligocene Pshekha Formation, the Polbian Bed, and the lower Miocene Olginskaya Formation. Total organic carbon (TOC) contents range up to 3.5 wt. %. Hydrogen index values are typically less than 300 mg hydrocarbons (HC)/g TOC but reach 420 mg HC/g TOC in black shales overlying the Polbian Bed (lower Morozkina Balka Formation). Organic richness of this level, approximately 10 m (33 ft) thick, is controlled by low salinity and high bioproductivity. The Maikop Group could generate approximately 2.0 t HC/m2 surface area. A significant part (0.45 t/m2) comes from the lower Morozkina Balka Formation, which generates a high-wax paraffinic–naphthenic–aromatic mixed oil. The Pshekha, upper Morozkina Balka, and Batalpashinsk Formations would generate low-wax oil or condensate. The hydrocarbon generation potential of the overlying formations is minor. Overall, the generation potential of the Maikop Group is surprisingly low.

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