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Palaeozoic petroleum systems of the Irish Sea

Pharaoh, T.C.; Smith, N.J.P.; Kirk, K.; Kimbell, G.S.; Gent, C.; Quinn, M.; Monaghan, A.A.. 2016 Palaeozoic petroleum systems of the Irish Sea. British Geological Survey, 135pp. (CR/16/045N) (Unpublished)

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Abstract/Summary

This report synthesises the results of the 21CXRM Palaeozoic project in the Irish Sea to describe the Palaeozoic petroleum systems of that area. One hydrocarbon play system dominates the basin system: Namurian organic-rich marine shales (Bowland Shale Formation) generated oil and gas with a peak during maximum burial of the system in late Jurassic/early Cretaceous time. These hydrocarbons passed to reservoirs in the Triassic Ormskirk Sandstone (Sherwood Sandstone Group) by way of structures generated during the Variscan Orogeny and Cenozoic inversion, resulting in the Morecambe, Hamilton and other gas and oil fields The Palaeozoic study of the wider Irish Sea area has assessed the potential for more widespread petroleum systems situated outside the well-known play, particularly within the Carboniferous. Within the Main Graben system of the East Irish Sea Basin, Coal Measures strata were partially removed following Variscan inversion and early Permian uplift. They are not rich in coals, and not inferred to be a significant source rock. There is some potential in the Millstone Grit and Yoredale sequences, as some shales (particularly those associated with marine bands) are known to have high Total Organic Contents. The source rock potential of shales within the Carboniferous Limestone sequence is poorly constrained by data. A Devonian source rock is unproven and considered unlikely. Potential Namurian source rocks, such as the Yoredale Group, have been largely eroded in the Peel and North Channel basins, considerably reducing their prospectivity, although terrestrial sequences of equivalent age in the Solway Basin may offer better potential. The variable seismic data quality at Carboniferous levels and sparsity of deep well control have led to challenges in interpretation, particularly of the deeper picks. The interpretation of the surfaces contains a strong model-driven element, evidenced by the onshore relationships and areas where seismic picks can be made with the greatest confidence. Based upon the integration of regional seismic mapping with a limited well, source rock and reservoir property dataset, the most prospective parts of the region, outside the Ormskirk conventional gas play, are considered to be:  The thick Westphalian sequences preserved in the Eubonia Tilt-Block in Quadrant 109, outside the main Permian-Mesozoic graben system and unaffected by Cenozoic inversion. The presence and quality of seals form a major risk as the Cumbrian Coast Group seal is thin or absent and Carboniferous intraformational seals are required but untested. Based on the limited dataset available in adjacent basins, reservoir quality is also a significant risk.  A belt of Variscan inversion structures correlated with structures on the Formby Platform, and Ribbledale Foldbelt onshore, from which hydrocarbons have leaked into the overlying, Ormskirk-hosted Hamilton fields. The biggest risk here is whether reservoirs remain unbreached at the Pre-Permian level, and retain good poroperm characteristics at depths of about 2500 m.  A more speculative play lies in the extensive carbonate platform in Quadrant 109 and surrounding the Isle of Man, in reefal facies with enhanced secondary porosity. Here, source rock presence and migration pathways, reservoir properties and seal quality are major risks.

Item Type: Publication - Report (UNSPECIFIED)
Funders/Sponsors: British Geological Survey
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This report is a published product of the 21st Century Exploration Roadmap (21CXRM) Palaeozoic project. This joint industry-Government-BGS project comprised a regional petroleum systems analysis of the offshore Devonian and Carboniferous in the North Sea and Irish Sea. This report made open April 2017
Date made live: 05 Apr 2017 08:52 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/516794

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