Correlation of Oils and Source Rocks from the Alaskan North Slope
Published:January 01, 1985
D. E. Anders, J.D. King, C. Lubeck, Sr., 1985. "Correlation of Oils and Source Rocks from the Alaskan North Slope", Alaska North Slope Oil-Rock Correlation Study: Analysis of North Slope Crude, Leslie B. Magoon, George E. Claypool
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Nine oils and 15 rock samples from across the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA) were analyzed by standard geochemical techniques in order to characterize the Alaskan North Slope oils and to attempt to determine the origin of these oils through direct crude oil-source rock correlation.
Results of this study indicate four genetic oil types. One major oil type (Type I) includes the oils from Prudhoe Bay, South Barrow, and Fish Creek. These oils are reservoired in rocks of the Sadlerochit Group, pebble shale units and Sag River Sandstone, and Nanushuk Group, respectively (ranging in age from Permian to Cretaceous). Type I oils have the following geochemical characteristics: high sulfur content (0.9-1.8%), C19/C23 tricyclic terpane ratios 0.7 to 0.13, pristane/phytane ratios 1.3 to 1.5, farnesane/C^ isoprenoid ratios 0.9 to 1.0, and stable carbon isotope ratios for the saturated hydrocarbons from δ 13C —28.4 to —29.4 and for the aromatic hydrocarbons between δl3C —28.7 and —29.3. The oils of Type I contain biomarkers that are similar in distribution to the extractable organic matter from the Kingak Shale and Shublik and Echooka formations rocks. However, a large (4-5 per mil) difference in stable carbon isotopes exists between the aromatic hydrocarbon fractions from the oils and the Kingak and Echooka rocks. This difference is too large to result from migration alone and suggests that the Kingak and Echooka rocks are not the major source of Type I oils regardless of some genetic similarities in organic matter. The best overall geochemical correlation exists between the oils of Type I and rocks of the Shublik.
A second major North Slope oil type (Type II) includes oils from the Simpson and Umiat fields. The Simpson oils were encountered in shallow core tests and as a seep in a seismic-test hole. The Umiat oil is from Cretaceous reservoirs of the Nanushuk Group. The Simpson-Umiat Type II oils have the following geochemical characteristics: low sulfur <0.2%, C19/C23 tricyclic terpane ratios >1.2, pristane/phytane ratios 2.1 to 2.2, farnesane/Cl6 isoprenoid ratios 0.6 to 0.7, and 6t5C ratios for the saturated hydrocarbons between —28.1 and —28.7 and for the aromatic fraction between —26.7 and —27.7. These Type II oils have many geochemical characteristics similar to the extractable organic matter from the Torok Formation and the pebble shale unit. However, the poor source rock quality of the organic matter in the Torok suggests that these rocks are poor oil sources but may have generated some gas.
A third genetic oil type (Type HI) is represented by the oil-show in the Dalton test well obtained from rocks of the Lisburne Group of Mississippian to Permian age. The Dalton oil is geochemically similar in many respects to Type I oils, but dissimilarities in sulfur, hydrocarbon, and asphaltic contents indicate probable genetic source differences. Geochemically, the Dalton oil resembles oils derived from carbonate rocks. Organic-rich carbonate units within the Lisburne are suspected as the source of the Dalton oil.
A fourth oil type (Type IV) is represented by the condensate from the Seabee well reservoired in the Torok Formation of Cretaceous age. Geochemical comparison data on this sample are minimal (carbon isotopes only) because of its narrow boiling range. The carbon isotopes for the hydrocarbons from the Seabee condensate are most like carbon isotopes for hydrocarbons from the Torok and the pebble shale unit.
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Alaska North Slope Oil-Rock Correlation Study: Analysis of North Slope Crude
The Alaska North Slope oil-rock correlation study was organized because several oil companies requested oil and rock samples for geochemical analyses that were recovered during the exploration drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA). Samples acquired with public funds could not be given to private organizations unless some guarantees could be provided that the information acquired from these samples could be made available to the public. For this reason, in August 1981, we sent out over 40 invitations to research laboratories in industry, government, and academia.
Requirements to participate in this study included: (1) participation in an AAPG-sponsored research conference, (2) presentation of the data interpretations at the 1983 Annual AAPG Meeting in Dallas Texas, and (3) contribution of a manuscript, to include all acquired data and interpretations, that would be included in a symposium volume. If a research group wished to participate, they were to write a letter of intent that included their proposed analytical program and a statement indicating that the requirements would be adhered to by their group. Even with these stringent requirements, 30 research groups wished to participate. A balanced cross section of research groups are participating and are as follows: 15 from oil companies, 7 from commercial laboratories, 7 from government laboratories, and 1 university laboratory. These groups are listed in Table 1.
In January 1982, each research group was sent 8 oils and 15 rocks recovered from NPRA drilling and 1 oil from the Prudhoe Bay field. Each group then proceeded to analyze these samples as they indicated in their letter of intent.