Xihu Basin is one of the Cenozoic sedimentary basins within the continental shelf of the East China Sea, within which eight oil and gas fields and four hydrocarbon-bearing structures have been found. Our systematic analysis of potential petroleum systems in the basin has identified the Eocene Pinghu Formation as the most important source rock in the basin. The Eocene Pinghu Formation consists of mudstone and coal deposited in an embayment and tidal-flat environment and is characterized as containing type III kerogen. The Pinghu Formation is mature and, at the present time, is within the oil and wet-gas windows with determined vitrinite reflectance values in the range of 0.55–2.2% measured vitrinite reflectance (Rom). Modeling results suggest that the main stage of hydrocarbon expulsion occurred during the Miocene. The main reservoir consists of fine-grained sandstones of the Huagang and Pinghu formations deposited within shallow lacustrine and estuarine environments. The measured porosity from core samples of reservoir rock ranges from 10 to 35%, whereas permeability values range from 1 to 4000 md; both porosity and permeability decrease with depth. The mudstones of the upper Huagang and Longjing formations also occur as regional seals, which developed overpressure zones as determined by two-way sonic transit times. The overburden includes all the Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, and Quaternary strata. The hydrocarbon traps in the basin are mainly structural traps, including faulted blocks, faulted structural noses, and anticlines. Most traps were developed at the ends of the Eocene or Oligocene. Hydrocarbons produced from the Xihu Basin are predominantly natural gases with minor amounts of crude oil. The crude oil in the basin is characterized by a low density, low sulfur, low wax, low vanadium/nickel ratio, a low resin and asphaltene content, and a high proportion of saturated hydrocarbons. The natural gas in the basin is composed predominantly of methane, with an average C1/∑C1–5 ratio of 0.89 and a C1/∑C2–5 ratio of 8.6. Two petroleum systems have been identified in the basin: the known Pinghu-Huagang and the hypothetical Huagang-Huagang systems. The Pinghu-Huagang is the major petroleum system and most important for oil and natural gas exploration in the basin.

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