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The behavior of a petroleum system often results from coupled physical interactions, whose effects are difficult to predict without adequate user experience and numerical tools. 2-D and 3-D basin simulators are such tools that are used to describe the generation and migration of hydrocarbons in sedimentary basins. We illustrate with two actual examples how these tools can be used to understand some key points of petroleum systems in an efficient way.

In the Brazilian Recôncavo basin, the possible migration patterns from the deep part of the basin toward the prerift and synrift reservoirs are examined, including the role of faults and the effect of long-range migration in the infilling of reservoirs. In the North Sea, the Jurassic petroleum system in the so-called high-pressure/high-temperature (HPHT) domain can be deciphered. There, oils survive temperatures as high as 190°C. Modeling tools that reconstruct the petroleum system in a geologic time frame show that this unusual feature has a dynamic behavior, linked to recent subsidence and sedimentation and to secondary cracking of the generated oils. Understanding petroleum migration and cracking processes in such settings demonstrates the capabilities and economic value of modeling tools.

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