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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 86 (2002), No. 9 P. 1561-1572.

Copyright ©2002. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Note on the importance of hydrocarbon fill for reservoir quality prediction in sandstones

Ann M. E. Marchand,1 P. Craig Smalley,2 R. Stuart Haszeldine,3 Anthony E. Fallick4

1Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JW, Scotland; email: [email protected]
2BP Exploration, Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex, TW16 7LN, England; email: [email protected]
3Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JW, Scotland; email: [email protected]
4Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, Isotope Geosciences Unit, East Kilbride, G75 0QF, Scotland; email: [email protected]


Ann Marchand received her B.Sc. degree in geology from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) in 1994. After working in the Leuven Geology Department as a researcher until 1997, she obtained a Ph.D. in geology at Edinburgh University (Scotland) in 2001. Since then, she has been working on reservoir quality projects for BP. Ann's research interests include quantitative modeling of diagenesis and porosity in sandstones.

Craig Smalley has almost 20 years of experience in technology development and application in the oil industry, gained initially at the Institute for Energy Technology (Norway) and then with BP. He has worked extensively on global reservoir quality issues, currently coleading BP's technical network in this area. Smalley holds a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.

Stuart Haszeldine has been attempting to understand sandstones for the past 15 years. The combined techniques of basin modeling, isotopic microanalysis, fluid inclusions, and petrography have produced some understanding of the interaction between the timing of burial, cementation, and hydrocarbon charge. His current work examines porosity preservation, porosity creation, and deep geopressured reservoirs. He likes field work and cycling with his son.

Tony Fallick graduated with a B.Sc. degree in physics and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Glasgow University, Scotland. He carried out postdoctoral research at McMaster (Canada) and Cambridge (England) universities before moving to the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre (SURRC) in 1980. He is currently director of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, which evolved out of SURRC.


We acknowledge BP for providing access to Exemplar software and Miller oil-field core and data, Shell UK for providing Kingfisher field core and data, and Platte River Associates (Denver) for providing BasinMod. S. Baines (BP) is thanked for helping with the quartz modeling. We acknowledge the support of Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) Award GR/R9841 to Anthony Fallick and R. Stuart Haszeldine. We thank D. Houseknecht for his constructive comments that helped to improve the manuscript.


Oil emplacement retarded the rate of quartz cementation in the Brae Formation deep-water sandstone reservoirs of the Miller and Kingfisher fields (United Kingdom North Sea), thus preserving porosity despite the rocks' being buried to depths of 4 km and 120 degreesC. Quartz precipitation rates were reduced by at least two orders of magnitude in the oil legs relative to the water legs. Important contrasts in quartz cement abundances and porosities have emerged between the oil and water legs where reservoirs have filled with hydrocarbons gradually over a prolonged period of time (>15 m.y.). The earlier the hydrocarbon fill, the greater is the degree of porosity preservation. Failure to consider this phenomenon during field development could lead to overestimation of porosity and permeability in the water leg, potentially leading in turn to poor decisions about the need for and placement of downflank water injectors. During exploration, the retarding effect of oil on quartz cementation could lead to the presence of viable reservoirs situated deeper than the perceived regional economic basement.

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