Abstract

The maturation of organic material in hydrocarbon source rocks and inorganic diagenetic reactions in reservoir sandstones are a natural consequence when a prism of sedimentary rocks is buried. We can predict the distribution of porosity and permeability enhancement in potential hydrocarbon reservoirs by integrating the reaction processes characterizing the progressive diagenesis of a reservoir/source rock system. A variety of observations suggests that the organic solvents needed to increase aluminosilicate and carbonate solubilities in sandstones can be generated either by thermal or oxidative cracking of carbonylic or phenolic groups from kerogen in adjacent source rocks. For example, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra of kerogen show that peripheral carbonylic and phenolic groups are released from the kerogen molecule before liquid hydrocarbons are generated. Experimental data indicate these water-soluble organic species can significantly affect the stability of both carbonates and aluminosilicates. Water-soluble organic acid anions (carboxylic) have been observed in oil-field waters in concentrations up to 10,000 ppm, and they commonly dominate the alkalinity in the fluid phase from 80-120 degrees C. We can model the integration of organic and inorganic diagenetic reactions by constructing a series of potential reaction pathways with increasing temperature for a system that includes aluminosilicates, carbonates, organic chelate species (carboxylic and phenolic), and CO 2 . The important chemical divides in these diagenetic flow diagrams are dependent of temperature, the nature of the pH buffer (carbonate species or organic acid anion species), and the relationship between organic acid anions and P CO2 (P = partial pressure). Forward predictive capabilities result when this general diagenetic model is placed in a time-temperature framework. The detailed organic and inorganic geochemistry and the general thermal scenario used in the time-temperature analysis must be basin specific. Casting the diagenetic history of a sandstone into this type of process-oriented model helps us move from a descriptive mode to a predictive mode of analysis. Two types of information result: (1) general optimum conditions for porosity and permeability enhancement in sandstones are delineated and (2) specifically, the degree and potential for porosity and permeability enhancement are determined. Predictive models have been developed for several tectonic settings, including rift of pull-apart basins and intermontane or Laramide basins. From these reconstructions, we can forward-predict the porosity-enhancing potential of a diagenetic system based on an understanding of the reaction process in a time-temperature framework.

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