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AAPG Hedberg Conference, The Evolution of Petroleum Systems Analysis

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A Practical Comparison of Chemical Kinetic Vitrinite Maturation Models in Both Synthetic and Real Basins


The Thermal maturity of source rocks is a primary product of basin modeling and a crucial component of oil and gas exploration. Many researchers have developed a variety of models that provide a way to predict thermal maturity in complex time‐temperature basin settings. We focus on the comparison of three of these models that are widely used in the petroleum industry. Sweeney and Burnham (1990) published a model called EASY%R0 that is likely the most popular vitrinite maturation model in the petroleum industry. More recently, Nielsen et al. (2015) published their basin%R0 that mimics the more rapidly increasing Vitrinite reflectance at greater temperatures that is seen in some basins. Schenk et al. (2017) released modified EASY%R0 parameters that also create more rapidly increasing %R0 values in the higher‐grade sediments. Given the number and variety of vitrinite maturation models, it is important to understand: (1) what are the key differences between these models, (2) what are the magnitudes of difference between these models, (3) where is the Previous HitmagnitudeNext Hit significant, and what are the key geologic drivers? Comparisons of these models have been done in the past, e.g., Burnham et al. (2017). However, in addition to comparing these chemical kinetic models in a variety of controlled tests varying heat flow, heating rate, and Previous HitmagnitudeNext Hit of erosion, we also present a side by side comparison for these kinetic models for several real case studies of different petroleum rich basins around the world. Included are recommended guidelines for which models should be applied to which geologic conditions; answering the question of where the Previous HitmagnitudeTop is significant and what are the key geologic drivers. The practical application of these models to real case studies and their existing calibration data allows us to frame the discussion on how these different models could drive oil and gas exploration in disparate directions.