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Have we solved the mystery of the sedimentary “black boxes”?

Thesis by Vincent Crombez*

The hydrocarbons produced by the oil industry come from source rocks, rocks that are rich in organic matter.

In contrast with the traditional view, it has recently been shown that these source rocks are extremely heterogeneous.

It is therefore necessary to implement new integrated approaches to meet the needs of the upstream oil sector. These approaches aim to combine the characterization and modeling of such heterogeneities (cf. figure) in order to better identify the resources available for production.

This thesis, centered on marine sedimentary basins, aimed to define and implement a multi-disciplinary methodology from pore to basin scale, in order to characterize, conceptualize and model these source rocks. This has been made possible through the use of thousands of both continuous and representative data on source rocks.

In addition to the significant data collection and handling work, this workflow used know-how from geochemistry, sedimentology and stratigraphy, as well as basin modeling.

This methodology, which has been developed and tested on the West Canadian basin (Trias, Montney and Doig formations), has already provided a robust model capable of rendering the architecture and heterogeneities of this source rock(1, 2). These results have helped improve IFPEN's basin modeling tools.

New research areas include the small-scale study of the mechanisms governing the generation and expulsion of hydrocarbons from source rocks. A more detailed description of these areas also allows us to envisage a better understanding of changes to the climate and oceanic dynamics on a geological time scale(2).


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Published in Science@ifpen n°27 - December 2016

* Thesis entitledPetrofacies, sedimentology and stratigraphic architecture of rocks rich in organic matter


  1. V. Crombez, S. Rohais, F. Baudin, T. Euzen, accepted for Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology.
  2. V. Crombez, F. Baudin, S. Rohais, L. Riquier, T. Euzen, S. Pauthier, B. Caron, N. Vaisblat, Basin scale distribution of organic matter in marine fine-grained sedimentary rocks: Insight from sequence stratigraphy and multi-proxies analysis in the Montney and Doig Formations, Marine and Petroleum Geology.
    >> DOI: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2016.10.013

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