Petroleum system

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The petroleum system is a unifying concept that encompasses all of the disparate elements and processes of petroleum geology, including: the essential elements (source, reservoir, seal, and overburden rock) and processes (trap formation, generation-migration-accumulation) and all genetically related petroleum that originated from one pod of active source rock and occurs in shows, seeps, or accumulations;[1] also called hydrocarbon system.[2]

Practical application of petroleum systems can be used in exploration, resource evaluation, and research.

What is a petroleum system?

A petroleum system encompasses a pod of active source rock and all genetically related oil and gas accumulations. It includes all the geologic elements and processes that are essential if an oil and gas accumulation is to exist.

Petroleum describes a compound that includes high concentrations of any of the following substances:

System describes the interdependent elements and processes that form the functional unit that creates hydrocarbon accumulations.

Elements and processes

The essential elements of a petroleum system include the following:

Petroleum systems have two processes:

These essential elements and processes must be correctly placed in time and space so that organic matter included in a source rock can be converted into a petroleum accumulation. A petroleum system exists wherever all these essential elements and processes are known to occur or are thought to have a reasonable chance or probability to occur.

Petroleum system investigation

A petroleum system investigation identifies, names, determines the level of certainty, and maps the geographic, stratigraphic, and temporal extent of a petroleum system. The investigation includes certain components:

See also


  1. Magoon, L. B., and W. G. Dow, 1994, The petroleum system: From source to trap: AAPG Memoir 60, 655 p.
  2. Peters, Kenneth E., David J. Curry, and Marek Kacewicz, 2012, An overview of basin and petroleum system modeling: Definitions and concepts, in Peters, Kenneth E., David J. Curry, and Marek Kacewicz, eds., Basin modeling: New horizons in research and applications: AAPG Hedberg Series no. 4, p. 1-16.

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Petroleum system