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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 75 (1991)

Issue: 4. (April)

First Page: 795

Last Page: 807

Title: Modeling Oil Generation with Time-Temperature Index Graphs Based on the Arrhenius Equation (1)

Author(s): JOHN M. HUNT (2), M. D. LEWAN (3), and R. J-C. HENNET (4)


The time and depth of oil generation from petroleum source rocks containing type II kerogens can be determined using time-temperature index (TTI) graphs based on the Arrhenius equation. Activation energies (E) and frequency factors (A) used in the Arrhenius equation were obtained from hydrous pyrolysis experiments on rock samples in which the kerogens represent the range of type II kerogen compositions encountered in most petroleum basins. The E and A values obtained were used to construct graphs that define the beginning and end of oil generation for most type II kerogens having chemical compositions in the range of these standards. Activation energies of these standard kerogens vary inversely with their sulfur content. The kerogen with the highest sulfur content had the lowest E value and was the fastest in generating oil, whereas the kerogen with the lowest sulfur content had the highest E value and was the slowest in generating oil. These standard kerogens were designated as types IIA, B, C, and D on the basis of decreasing sulfur content and corresponding increasing time-temperature requirements for generating oil.

The (summation) TTI[ARR] values determined graphically with these type II kerogen standards in two basin models were compared with a computer calculation using 2000 increments. The graphical method came within +/- 3% of the computer calculation.

As type II kerogens are the major oil generators in the world, these graphs should have wide application in making preliminary evaluations of the depth of the oil window in exploration areas.

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