Petrophysics - Rock Physics

Petroleum Systems and Exploration Geochemistry



  Dr Kenneth Peters (Schlumberger, California, United States)


  5 days


  Geology – Geochemistry






  25 CPD points




Course description

This five-day course introduces the dynamic petroleum system concept, including the critical elements and processes that control petroleum accumulations as quantified using computerized basin and petroleum system models. Lectures and exercises show how geochemistry can reduce the risk associated with petroleum exploration. The course is designed for exploration geologists but could also benefit geochemical coordinators, managers and development geologists. It provides interpretive guidelines to evaluate prospective source rocks, define petroleum systems and build or calibrate basin and petroleum system models. Examples of the application of geochemistry to production problems are given. Discussions will cover TOC, Rock-Eval pyrolysis, vitrinite reflectance, thermal alteration index, kerogen elemental analysis, geochemical logs and maps, reconstructed generative potential calculations, gas chromatography, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, ad source-rock generative kinetics and sample collection techniques. Pitfalls to correct interpretations are illustrated using in-class exercises. Biomarkers and advanced isotopic and diamondoid tools are introduced and worldwide case studies are given to illustrate interpretive methods.


Course objectives

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the basic concepts of petroleum geochemistry;
  • Understand basic geochemical measurements, e.g., Rock-Eval pyrolysis/TOC, vitrinite reflectance, including interpretive pitfalls;
  • Reconstruct the original petroleum generative potential of spent source rock;
  • Identify the elements and processes that control petroleum systems and how they are quantified in basin and petroleum system models;
  • Learn how to collect oil and rock samples and how to evaluate data quality;
  • Use biomarkers, isotopes and chemometrics to correlate oils and source rocks, establish petroleum systems and assess thermal maturity or biodegradation;
  • Gain geochemical expertise based on case studies and exercises to improve technical productivity and communication with colleagues.


Course outline

Module 1. The Dynamic Petroleum System Concept

  • Objectives, Terms, Nomenclature
  • Petroleum System Folio Sheet: Map and Cross Section at Critical Moment, Table of Accumulations, Event Chart, Burial History Chart
  • Timing of Petroleum System Events and Processes
  • Introduction to Basin and Petroleum System Models
  • Origin and Preservation of Sedimentary Organic Matter
  • Project Initiation and Sample Collection, Exercises

Module 2. Evaluating Source Rocks

  • Vitrinite Reflectance: Thermal Maturity, Calibration, Kinetics
  • TOC, Rock-Eval Pyrolysis, Geochemical Logs
  • Fractional Conversion, Original TOC, Expelled Petroleum, Expulsion Efficiency
  • Interpretive Pitfalls; Exercises

Module 3. Exploration Geochemistry

  • Gas Chromatography, Stable Isotopes, Surface Geochemical Exploration
  • Semivariograms and Spatial Significance of Data
  • Biomarker Separation and Analysis
  • Source- and Age-Related Parameters, Introduction to Oil-Oil and Oil-Source Rock Correlation
  • Interpretive Pitfalls; Exercises

Module 4. Preservation and Destruction of Accumulations

  • Thermal Maturity-Related Parameters; Cracking, Thermochemical Sulphate Reduction
  • Biodegradation-Related Parameters
  • Ancillary Geochemical Tools; Semi-Volatile Aromatics, Light Hydrocarbons, Mud Gas Isotope Logging, Fluid Inclusion Volatiles
  • Diamondoids, Gases
  • Chemometrics for Correlation, Mixture Analysis
  • Interpretive Pitfalls; Exercises
  • Exploration Geochemistry Case Studies

Module 5. Introduction to Petroleum System Modeling

  • Introduction to 1D, 2D, 3D Petroleum System Models
  • Chemical Reaction Kinetics
  • Model Calibration
  • Interpretive Pitfalls; Exercises
  • Petroleum System Modeling Case Studies


Participants' profile

The course is designed for exploration geologists but could also benefit geochemical coordinators, managers and development geologists.



Participants should have knowledge of basic chemistry. Experience in exploration or production will also be helpful.


About the instructor

Dr Kenneth Peters

Kenneth Peters is Science Advisor for Schlumberger Information Solutions (SIS) where he uses geochemistry and numerical modeling to study petroleum systems. He has more than 33 years of experience working for Chevron, Mobil, ExxonMobil, USGS, and Schlumberger and has taught petroleum geochemistry and basin modeling at Chevron, Mobil, ExxonMobil, Oil & Gas Consultants International, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University. Ken is principal author of The Biomarker Guide (2005, Cambridge U. Press) and Consulting Professor in the Geological & Environmental Sciences Department at Stanford University where he leads the Basin and Petroleum System Modeling Industrial Affiliates Program. He was Chair of the AAPG Research Committee (2007-2010), AAPG Distinguished Lecturer for 2009 and 2010, and editor for the 2009 AAPG compact disk “Getting Started in Basin and Petroleum System Modeling”. He is Associate Editor for AAPG Bulletin and Organic Geochemistry. In 2009, he received the Schlumberger Henri Doll Prize for Innovation and the Alfred E. Treibs Award presented on behalf of the Organic Geochemistry Division of the Geochemical Society to scientists who have had a major impact on the field of organic geochemistry through long-standing contributions. Ken has B.S. and M.S. degrees in geology from UCSB and a Ph.D. in geochemistry from UCLA.


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