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The Implication of Maturation and Heat Flow Analysis for Conventional (Deepwater) and Unconventional (Shale Oil & Shale Gas) Petroleum Systems: Evolution Through the Last 50 Years


The aspects of heat flow and maturation using vitrinite reflectance began in the 1930s and remained until the middle of 1960s for the sole pupose of evaluating coal. However, from the later part of 1960s, maturation of dispersed organic matter (kerogen) changed our perspectives on the application of vitrinite reflectance to solve problems in the Earth's diverse heat flow histories particularly those associated with the petroleum basins. Although the concept of oil and gas generation in relation to heat flow and depth is well known worldwide in the 1960s, but the simple hydrocarbon windows (start and end points of oil and gas generation) concept in relation to vitrinite reflectance in source rocks by Wally Dow (1977) is unique. This work ultimately brought the petroleum geochemistry and petroleum system analysis into the forefront of earth sciences research. Vitrinite reflectance became a universal paleo-geothermometer for Earth Sciences research on heat flow that could solve diverse problems for sedimentary basin evolution. The current research will demonstrate how heat flow and maturation is related to chemical kinetics evolving hydrocarbon windows. The new concept could be related to the generation and migration of hydrocarbons in several selected basins having source rocks from the deepwater (GOM, Deepwater Grand Banks, and Scotian Basin) and unconventional (Bakken, Montney, Duvernay, Eagle Ford and Barnett) environments. The petroleum system parameters could be related to changes in tectonic elements (salt, erosion, thrust, and stress), mineralogical variations, igneous affiliations, and organic and sedimentary environments. This new concept of maturity in relation to chemical kinetics and stress could provide a basic framework for improving predictions about hydrocarbon saturation in the “hot spots” and prediction of “oil’ versus “gas” using multiphase maturation windows.