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South Caribbean Petroleum Systems: An Updated Overview


Hydrocarbon potential in the Offshore Caribbean Basin in Colombia has been proven by recent exploratory success in region, with the hydrocarbon discoveries of Perla in 2009, Orca in 2014 and Kronos in 2015. The petroleum systems effectivity is recognized as associated to biogenic and thermogenic and processes for hydrocarbon generation (Ramirez et al, 2015). Biogenic hydrocarbons are generated from immature source rocks exposed to bacterial activity, sourced mainly from Lower to Middle Miocene shaly stratigraphic units. Recorded thermogenic hydrocarbons are generated from Eocene and Oligocene source rocks that have attained a sufficient depth of burial and thermal maturity level (Ramirez et al, 2015; Ramirez, 2007, Rangel et al., 2003). Besides Eocene, Oligocene and Miocene organic rich strata, source rocks in the Caribbean offshore basin of Colombia may include Cretaceous rocks which can be equivalent to La Luna Formation of Maracaibo area with a kerogen type II (Yurewicz et al, 1987). Source rock of Tertiary units have been identified as type III, which give to the basin its predominantly gas prone character. Recent data and Ecopetrol interpretations (Ramirez et al, 2015; Ramirez et al., 2012) have allowed to postulate a Late Cretaceous source rock in the deep offshore area in the western part of the basin in preserved stratigraphic sections associated to the South Caribbean Deformed Belt and in hemigraben type depocenters in the Caribbean Plate. Upper Cretaceous source rocks have been identified in DSPD and ODP locations in the deep Colombia Basin (Moore and Fahlquist, 1976). Heat flow data, thermal regime interpretations and 1D and 2D modeling can constrain the generation potential of these potential Mesozoic source rocks. The integration of a regional geologic framework, based on information associated to the different elements of the petroleum system from both local scale and basin scale (Caribbean-South America geology) along with thermal history data and petroleum system modeling can provide a better understanding of petroleum systems processes and the associated hydrocarbon potential in this frontier offshore area of Colombia.