Kimmeridgian Shales Total Petroleum System of the North Sea Graben Province

Bulletin 2204-C




The North Sea Graben of northwestern Europe, World Energy Project Province 4025, is entirely offshore within the territorial waters of Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Extensional tectonics and failed rifting are fundamental to the distribution of oil and gas in the province. Accordingly, the geologic history and reser-voir rocks of the province are considered in the context of their temporal relationship to the principal extension and rifting events. The oil and gas accumulations of the province are considered part of a single petroleum system: the Kimmeridg-ian Shales Total Petroleum System (TPS). Source rocks of the Kimmeridgian Shales TPS were deposited in Late Jurassic to earliest Cretaceous time during the period of intensive exten-sion and rifting. The Kimmeridgian Shales contain typical 'type II' mixed kerogen. Oil and gas generation began locally in the North Sea Graben Province by Cretaceous time and has continued in various places ever since. Reservoirs are found in strata with ages ranging from Devonian to Eocene. Pre-rift reservoirs are found in fault-block structures activated during rifting and can be of any age prior to the Late Jurassic. Syn-rift reservoirs are restricted to strata actually deposited during maximum extension and include rocks of Late Jurassic to earliest Cretaceous age. Post-rift reservoirs formed after rifting and range in age from Early Cretaceous to Eocene. Seals are diverse, depending upon the structural setting and reservoir age. Pre-rift reservoirs com-monly have seals formed by fine-grained, post-rift sedimentary sequences that drape the Late Jurassic to earliest Cretaceous structures. Contemporaneous shales such as the Kimmeridge Clay seal many syn-rift reservoirs. Fields with post-rift res-ervoirs generally require seals in fine-grained Tertiary rocks. In most of the North Sea Graben, source rocks have been continuously buried since deposition. Structural trap forma-tion has also taken place continuously since Mesozoic time. As a result, oil and gas are present in a wide variety of settings within Province 4025. Assessment units for the World Energy Project were defined geographically in order to capture regional differ-ences in exploration history, geography, and geological evolution. Three geographic areas were assessed. The Viking Graben, in the northern part of the province, includes both United Kingdom and Norwegian territorial areas. The Moray Firth/Witch Ground in the west-central part of the province is entirely in United Kingdom. waters. The Central Graben in the southern part of the province includes territorial areas of Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. The North Sea Graben is estimated to contain between 4.3 and 25.6 billion barrels (BBO) of undiscovered, conventionally recoverable oil. Of that total, the Viking Graben is believed to contain 2.2 to 14.8 BBO of undiscov-ered oil, the Moray Firth/Witch Ground may contain between 0.3 and 1.9 BBO, and the Central Graben was estimated to contain undiscovered oil resources of 1.7 to 8.8 BBO. Prov-ince 4025 was also estimated to hold between 11.8 and 75 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of undiscovered natural gas. Of this total, 6.8 to 44.5 TCF is thought to exist in the Viking Graben, 0.6 to 3.4 TCF is estimated to be in the Moray Firth/Witch Ground, and 4.5 to 27.1 TCF of undiscovered gas is estimated to be in the Central Graben.

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Additional publication details

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USGS Numbered Series
Kimmeridgian Shales Total Petroleum System of the North Sea Graben Province
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Version 1.0
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Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
Central Region Energy Resources Program
iv, 24 p.
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USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title:
World Petroleum Assessment 2000
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