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Abstract: Tectonothermal Modeling of Hydrocarbon Maturation, Central Maracaibo Basin, Venezuela

M. Charles Manske

The petroliferous Maracaibo Basin of northwestern Venezuela and extreme eastern Colombia has evolved through a complex geologic history. Deciphering the tectonic and thermal evolution is essential in the prediction of hydrocarbon maturation (timing) within the basin. Individual wells in two areas of the central basin, Blocks III and V, have been modeled to predict timing of hydrocarbon generation within the source Upper Cretaceous La Luna Formation, as well as within interbedded shales of the Lower-Middle Eocene Misoa Formation reservoir sandstones.

Tectonic evolution, including burial and uplift (erosional) history, has been constrained with available well data. The initial extensional thermal regime of the basin has been approximated with a Mackenzie-type thermal model, and the following compressional stage of basin development by applying a foreland basin model. Corrected Bottom Hole Temperature (BHT) rneasurements from wells in the central basin, along with thermal conductivity measurements of rock samples from the entire sedimentary sequence, resulted in the estimation of present day heat flow. An understanding of the basin's heat flow, then, allowed extrapolation of geothermal gradients through time. The relation of geothermal gradients and overpressure within the Upper Cretaceous hydrocarbon-generating La Luna Formation an thick Colon Formation shales was also taken into account.

Maturation modeling by both the conventional Time-Temperature Index (TTI) and kinetic Transformation Ratio (TR) methods predicts the timing of hydrocarbon maturation in the potential source units of these two wells. These modeling results are constrained by vitrinite reflectance and illite/smectite clay dehydration data, and show general agreement. These results also have importance regarding the timing of structural formation and hydrocarbon migration into Misoa reservoirs. A final prediction of the modeling results is that the porosity and permeability ol Misoa reservoir sandstones may have been diagenetically enhanced by organic acids expulsed from adjacent shales just prior to hydrocarbon maturation.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90951©1996 AAPG International Conference and Exhibition, Caracas, Venezuela