Geochemical assessment and hydrocarbon potential of Oligocene–Pliocene source rocks from northeast onshore Nile Delta, Egypt

Khairy, Ahmed; El Diasty, Waleed Sh.; Uguna, Clement N.; Peters, Kenneth E.; Vane, Christopher H. ORCID:; Snape, Colin E.; Meredith, Will. 2023 Geochemical assessment and hydrocarbon potential of Oligocene–Pliocene source rocks from northeast onshore Nile Delta, Egypt. International Journal of Coal Geology, 274, 104283.

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Recent exploration in the Nile Delta Basin has led to major oil and gas discoveries; however, source–reservoir relationships in the onshore part of the basin are still ambiguous. This work involves a comprehensive geochemical assessment of possible Oligocene–Pliocene source rocks, using TOC/Rock-Eval pyrolysis and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. The aim is to investigate quantity, quality, thermal maturity, sources, and depositional paleoenvironment of the disseminated organic matter, and to correlate rock samples with hydrocarbons retrieved from the study area. Moreover, the chemical and isotopic compositions of gases were employed to examine origin, maturity, mixing and secondary alteration processes. Results reveal fair to good organic richness (TOC ∼1 wt%) for the Oligocene–Pliocene rocks, with the highest TOC content from the Oligocene Tineh Formation. The kerogen is generally gas-prone Type-III and to a lesser extent Type-IV and Type-II/III. Molecular and biomarker results indicate mixed source facies with variable contributions from higher plants, algae, bacteria, and plankton, deposited under suboxic to anoxic nearshore marine or lacustrine depositional settings. Significant biomarkers include elevated C26/C25 tricyclic terpane ratios (0.82–3.62), low C31 homohopane (22R)/C30 hopane ratios (0.17–0.63), and low oleanane and gammacerane contents. Maturity-related biomarkers, Rock-Eval Tmax and vitrinite reflectance values are consistent and suggest immature to early mature rock samples. Molecular and isotopic compositions of mud gases indicate complex origins and mixing histories ranging from primary microbial to pure thermogenic, where thermogenic processes dominate the pre-Miocene intervals. Chemometric analysis of 18 source-related biomarker ratios for rock extracts revealed four genetic families. Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) of biomarker data for rock extracts and condensate oils from the onshore Nile Delta indicates no correlation between Miocene–Pliocene rocks and condensates or oils in the area. Therefore, pre-Miocene source rocks are suggested to be the most probable candidates for hydrocarbons in the onshore Nile Delta.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 01665162
Date made live: 13 Jun 2023 12:24 +0 (UTC)

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