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Migration & Accumulation of Oil &

Relatively coarse grained porous and permeable
rocks contain the petroleum accumulations
Certain evidences depict that places of origin of oil &
gas is normally not identical with the locations
where it is found in economical quantity
Movement of petroleum compounds within the
network of capillaries and pores has to take place in
the presence of aquous pore fluids as most
subsurface pores are water saturated
Movement of petroleum compounds take place
because of active water flow or may occur
independently of the aquous phase either by
displacement or by diffusion

Migration & Accumulation of Oil &

There may be a single phase (oil & gas
dissolved in water) or a multiphase (separate
water & hydrocarbon phases) fluid system
As the densities of oil & gases are
considerably lower than saline water, gas &
oil pools are mostly found in structural highs
So far, process of primary and secondary
migration are poorly understood. Basic data
on pore geometry, porosity & permeability
relationships, and distribution of pore water
in buried dense source rocks are rare
There is little information on movement and
distribution of petroleum compounds inside
the pores of source rocks

Physico- chemical aspects of

primary migration
Temperature and Pressure
Compaction, porosity of clastic sediments
& abnormally high pressures
Compaction of carbonates
Pore diameters & internal surface areas
State & behaviour of pore water
Changing chemical composition of
petroleum compounds

Subsurface temperature profile: Ground water flow and

differences in thermal conductivity of rock types influence the
temperature depth relationship ( after Kappelmeyer, 1961)

Average thermal conductivities of selected rock types

(After Kappelmeyer and Haenel, 1974)

Isotherms modelled for a salt dome

Density diagram for
water under geological

Superimposed on this
diagram are geothermal
gradients of 18C Km-1,
25C Km-1, and 36C Km-1
for hydrostatically
pressured water (Barker,
1972; Magara, 1974)

Relationship between specific volume of water and increasing

depth of burial for different geothermal gradients (Magara, 1974)

Pressure Depth plot of a well with different gradients

Shale compaction
curves from
various sources.
The point to be
noted that, there
is minimal water
loss through
compaction over
the depth range of
the oil window

Relationship of structured water molecules to clay

mineral lattice (Barker, 1978)

Two stage dewatering of

montmorillonitic clay (Powers, 1967)

Dewatering curves for clay burial (Burst,1969)

Migration of Oil & Gas

Two types of migration procedures have
been documented so far.
Primary migration: The release of
petroleum compounds from solid
organic particles (Kerogen) and their
transport within and through the
capillaries and narrow pores of a finegrained source rock.
Secondary Migration: The oil/gas
expelled from the source beds passes
through wider pores of more permeable
porous rock units.

Formation of oil and gas accumulations: schematic presentation

of primary and secondary migration in the initial (I) and advanced
(II) stage of basin evolution

Migration of Oil & Gas

Various theories for primary migration of
Expulsion as protopetroleum (ketones,
acids, easters)
Expulsion as petroleum
In solution
Dissolved in water (derived from compaction of
clays, or dissolved from meteoric flushing)
Within micelles
Solution of oil in gas
Globules of oil in water
Continuous phase

Interrelationship of various physical parameters with

increasing depth of burial for shale type sediments

Possible modes of primary migration

Continuous oil phase

Hydrocarbon globules or bubbles
Colloidal and micellar solutions
molecular solution
migration by rock fracturing

Secondary Migration
Initially dispersed microscopic & submicroscopic oil particles in the aqueous pore
fluid are more abundant
Hence these finely dispersed oil particles do
not strictly follow the law of buoyancy but
are more influenced by hydrodynamic water
flow during the initial stages of secondary
Proposed models link the general movement
of the pore fluid in the sedimentary basins to
Type & rate of sediment deposition
Pore fluid pressure

Parameters controlling secondary

migration and subsequent formation of
oil/gas pools
Buoyant rise of oil/gas in water-saturated
porous rocks
Capillary pressure
Hydrodynamic fluid flow

Under hydrostatic condition an equilibrium

state prevails between buoyant force and the
capillary pressure.
The equation for this equilibrium situation is:
2 (1/rt 1/rp) = zo.g ( w - o) .(i)
= interfacial tension between oil & water,
rt = radius of pore-throat,
rp = reservoir rock radii,
zo = height of oil column,
g = acceleration due to gravity,
w & o = density of water and oil respectively

The maximum height of an oil column

(critical height, zc) is expressed as:
zc = 2 (1/rt 1/rp) / g ( w - o) .(ii)
The oil globule will rise when
zo.g ( w - o) > 2 (1/rt 1/rp) .(iii)

Oil globule of radius r, in pore space of water-wet,

clastic rock, undergoing distortion as it migrates
through pore throat of radius rt. is the interfacial
tension (Berg, 1975)

Buoyancy Vs. Hydrodynamic Forces

Magara (1976); Sharp Jr. & Domenico (1976)
Compaction-induced horizontal movement of
pore fluid through more permeable sandy
layers towards the edges of the basin or to
permeable faults
Vertical movement of pore fluids across
lithological sequences is comparatively less
Temperature distribution is a sensitive
indicator of fluid movement and is largely
responsible for heat transfer

Buoyancy Vs. Hydrodynamic Forces

Coustau et al., (1975)
Classified sedimentary basins based on
hydrodynamic conditions and related this to
their petroleum potential
Three main types of basins distinguished on
the basis of fresh water invasion (a) before,
(b) during, & (c) after

Juvenile Basin: not necessarily young, with

compaction-induced centrifugal lateral
water movement (e.g., Nigeria, Gulf of
Mexico, Douola Basin, North Sea, NorthEast Sahara between salt deposits)
Petroleum interest in the basin is very

Buoyancy Vs. Hydrodynamic Forces

Intermediate Basin: with centripetal water

movement, artesian properties, & fresh water
invasions (e.g., Persian Gulf, east Sahara, Paris
Basin, Central Tunisia, Sahara below the salt,
etc.) Petroleum interest in such basins vary from
very strong to moderate

Senile Basin: with hydrodynamic conditions and

generally invaded by meteoric water (e.g.,
Northwest Aquitaine Basin, part of North Spanish
Basin) Little or no petroleum interest

Strong and long-lasting hydrodynamic flow

retards the formation of pools or even destroys
the existing accumulations by dismigration

Three main types

of sedimentary
basins classified
according to
Juvenile basins,
basins, and senile

Termination of secondary migration &

accumulation of oil & gas

Concentration of oil & gas takes place in

the highest available part of a trap
Oil & gas may be trapped in any rock of
suitable porosity, regardless of lithology
The cap-rock or seal, by virtue of its
general decrease of pore diameters, must
exert capillary pressure, great enough to
stop the passage of oil &/or gas particles

Termination of secondary migration &

accumulation of oil & gas (contd..)

Under hydrostatic conditions oil/gas

simply rises to the highest part, without
gross movement of aqueous phase
Under hydrodynamic conditions

Once the water-carrying hydrocarbon reaches

the crest of the reservoir rock unloads the
oil/gas there & escapes the trap
Magnitude & direction of the moving water may
hold and trap oil/gas at suitable positions of the
reservoir rock

Displacement and separation of oil and gas in an

anticlinal reservoir under the increasing action of
flowing water (Hobson and Tirastoo, 1975)

Oil isopotential surfaces (U0) in relation to

buoyant (Pb), hydrdynamic (Ph), and confining
(Py) forces in a convex trap under
hydrodynamic conditions

Equipotential surfaces for gas, oil, & moving

water, in relation to the differential movements
of the three fluids in a convex trap

Irreducible minimum amount of

connate water
Water left after the total displacement
of water in the water wet reservoir rock
by hydrocarbon

Oil/gas saturation

Carbonate & detrital reservoir rocks with

secondary cementation have inhomogeneous pore
size distribution, there may be certain parts where
oil/gas cannot enter because of excessive
capillary pressures, leading to isolated watersaturated pockets devoid of HC in an oil-filled
Degree of oil/gas saturation depends on the
dualism between those forces, which move HC
(buoyancy and hydrodynamic flow of water) and
the restricting force (capillary pressure)
Relative oil saturation is usually lower in finergrained reservoir rocks because the ratio of pore
volume to enclosing surface is less favourable,
and there is more water adhering to mineral

Differential entrapment
of hydrocarbons
migrating through
successive, connected
traps. Stages D & E
represent the same
stage in migration but
under different
structural relations

Oil/gas saturation

Saturation is lower with heavier, more

viscous oils
Transition zone has a lower oil saturation
and is a distinct and separate zone
Gas-oil ratio at the time of emplacement
depends mainly on HC availability at the
time of pool formation
If more gas than oil is available in the
drainage area, the resulting accumulation
is most likely to have a separate gas-cap
If mainly oil is collected by the anticline,
there will be no gas-cap and the oil might
even be under saturated with gas under the
reservoir conditions

Oil/gas saturation

Relative distribution of oil & gas in a pool

depends on following factors:

Supply of oil & gas

Reservoir temperature & pressure
Kind of oil phase in place (light oil can dissolve
more gas)
Relative permeability of the sealing cap- rock
with respect to the
content of the pool.
Grain size of the reservoir rock

In the natural process, generally oil & gas

do not occur at a state of equilibrium

Distance of secondary

Secondary migration over vertical distances, more

than the thickness of a single reservoir rock, is
only possible through faults, fracture systems,
and other preferred avenues e.g., dykes, thrust
planes, mud volcanoes, etc.
In case of areas affected by growth faults
individual accumulations in multiple-zone oil fields
may represent a dynamic rather than a static
system (Phillippi, 1977): pools may be
simultaneously receiving and loosing
Distance between the petroleum accumulation and
the nearest mature source rock determines the
distance of migration
Correlation between source rock and reservoir oil
can be carried out by fingerprinting using gas
chromatography (Bruce & Schmidt, 1994)

Distance of secondary
Migration distances can be calculated by geochemical
method based on the regional variation of traces of
nonalkylated benzocarbazoles (Larter et al, 1996),
which is apparently effective and independent of the
maturity of the oils

Changes taking place upward in a


The deepest part of sedimentary basins

may be looked upon as hydrodynamic
divergence zones
Oil/gas migrate away from these zones, in
the up-dip direction & along the decreasing
capillary pressure gradients, towards
uplifts within the basins or the basins
uplifted margins (hydrodynamic
convergence zones)
In general, following changes take place in
the reservoir fluids in the direction of

Changes taking place upward in a


API gravity of oil decreases as the reservoir

temperature & pressure decrease
Solution gas is lost upwards as reservoir pressure
Sulfur content of the oil increase
Recoverable proportion of oil content of the
reservoir decreases, and the initial water content
Oil/water contacts may rise in a systematic
manner, and distant traps become less full as less
oil is available for them
Salinity of the formation waters decreases and
their oxygen content increases, because of
increased influence of meteoric waters and,
bacterial activity

Reconstruction of the migrational

history of oil/gas
For the Reconstruction of the migrational
history of oil/gas following to be taken into
Geological Conditions:
Disposition of strata; areas of homoclinal
dip versus areas of folded strata
Availability of carrier systems
Presence/absence of restraining structures
or strata near source-rock areas
History of earth movement
Variations in geothermal gradient

Reconstruction of the migrational

history of oil/gas
Physical & chemical character of fluids:
Gravity & viscosity of oil
State of association of oil, solution
gas, free gas, & water
State of dissemination of fluids within
Availability of meteoric water

Reconstruction of the migrational

history of oil/gas
Lithological characters of reservoir
Porosity & permeability
Proportion of induced openings
(fissures, joints, solution pipes, etc.)
Entry pressures and permeabilities of
roof rocks
Degree of saturation with water
Effectiveness of cementation