Carbonate cements in Tertiary reservoir sandstones from the northern North Sea have distinctive carbon isotopic compositions (δ13C). Oil migration up faults from deeper structures and biodegradation of oil pools are factors of particular importance in influencing the δ13C of carbonate cements in these sandstones. As a result, δ13C can be used as an exploration guide to locating the positions of vertical leakoff points from the Jurassic source rocks. The histogram distribution of δ13C in these carbonate cements is trimodal, with peaks at around −26, −3 and +12‰ (ranges −22 to −30, +2 to −10 and +8 to +18‰, respectively). Bacterial processes played major roles in determining this distribution, with oxidative biodegradation of oil resulting in carbonate cements with very negative compositions and bacterial fermentation resulting in the positive δ13C cements. δ13C distribution patterns may be used to differentiate Tertiary reservoir sandstones from Jurassic in the northern North Sea, and these regional carbonate cement δ13C datasets allow geologically useful inferences to be drawn from δ13C data from new sample locations.

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