Upper Jurassic–lowermost Cretaceous marine shale source rocks (Farsund Formation), North Sea: Kerogen composition and quality and the adverse effect of oil-based mud contamination on organic geochemical analyses

H.I. Petersen, M. Hertle, H. Sulsbrück

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The Jude-1 well is located in the central part of the Danish Central Graben, North Sea, and was drilled into immature black shales of the Upper Jurassic–lowermost Farsund Formation, a world-class marine source rock. The well was drilled with oil-based drilling mud (OBM). The lithofacies consists of argillaceous shale, calcareous shale and dolomite stringers as confirmed by cuttings and core. A core was taken in the upper part of the formation at the beginning of a ‘hot’ argillaceous shale interval characterized by elevated TOC and HI values. Cuttings and core samples were investigated to unravel kerogen composition, source rock quality and the contamination effect of OBM on organic geochemical analyses. The organic facies of the source rocks corresponds to Type II kerogen or Organofacies B (sensu Pepper and Corvi, 1995). Considerable fluctuations in HI values through the Farsund Formation reflect pronounced variations in source rock quality, although a faint lamination of the shales and overall high TOC contents testify to prevailing oxygen-deficient depositional conditions preventing significant bioturbation and reworking of the sediment and organic matter. Petrography of core samples reveals a relatively homogenous sapropelic kerogen composition dominated by a groundmass of yellowish fluorescing amorphous organic matter and liptodetrinite intimately associated with the mineral matrix. Telalginite is less abundant, but Tasmanites- and in particular Leiosphaerida-type telalginites were observed. Minor but varying amounts of detrital terrigenous macerals suggest a considerable distance to land areas and thus limited supply of land plant-derived organic matter. The argillaceous shale lithofacies generally is more oil-prone and organic-rich than the more gas-prone calcareous shale facies. The uppermost section includes the ‘hot’ argillaceous shales, which together with two deeper argillaceous shale intervals are highly organic-rich and oil-prone. Average TOC of the ‘hot’ argillaceous shales is ~ 7 wt% and HI reaches > 500 mg HC/g TOC. The total Ultimate Expulsion Potential (UEP) of the over 853 m (2799 ft) thick Farsund Formation is ~ 142 mmboe/km2. Results from non-contaminated samples are thus consistent with the Farsund Formation being a world-class highly oil-prone marine source rock. The predicted oil composition corresponds to ‘paraffinic low wax oils’. The adverse effect of OBM contamination on geochemical analyses is demonstrated by Rock-Eval data and measured bulk kinetics of contaminated core samples. The measured kinetics has a considerable proportion of low activation energies related to OBM contamination which is also supported by high Production Indices. Further, gas chromatograms of the saturated fraction of extracts from contaminated cores clearly show evidence of OBM in the nC11–nC14 range. Rock-Eval S2 peaks have a ‘shoulder’ showing that the low Ea-peaks result from carry over from the S1 peak, caused by the OBM contamination. As a consequence Hydrogen Index values are increased.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-39
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Kerogen
  • Kinetics
  • Maceral
  • North Sea
  • Oil-based mud contamination
  • Py-GC
  • Shale
  • Source rock

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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