Oil–source correlation studies in the shallow Berea Sandstone petroleum system, eastern Kentucky

American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin
By: , and 



Shallow production of sweet high-gravity oil from the Upper Devonian Berea Sandstone in northeastern Kentucky has caused the region to become the leading oil producer in the state. Potential nearby source rocks, namely, the overlying Mississippian Sunbury Shale and underlying Ohio Shale, are immature for commercial oil generation according to vitrinite reflectance and programmed pyrolysis analyses. We used organic geochemical measurements from Berea oils and solvent extracts from potential Upper Devonian–Mississippian source rocks to better understand organic matter sources, oil–oil and oil–source rock correlations, and thermal maturity in the shallow Berea oil play. Multiple geochemical proxies suggest Berea oils are from one family and from similar source rocks. Oils and organic matter in the potential source rocks are from a marine source based on pristane-to-phytane (Pr/Ph) and terrestrial-to-aquatic ratios, carbon preference index values, n-alkane maxima, C-isotopic composition, and tricyclic terpane and hopane ratios. Any or all of the Devonian to Mississippian black shale source rocks could be potential source rocks for Berea oils based on similarities in oil and solvent extract Pr/n-C17 and Ph/n-C18 ratios, sterane distributions, C-isotopic values, and sterane/hopane and tricyclic terpane ratios. Multiple biomarker ratios suggest Berea oils formed at thermal maturities of approximately 0.7% –0.9% vitrinite reflectance. These data require significant updip lateral migration of 30–50 mi from a downdip Devonian black shale source kitchen to emplace low-sulfur oils in the shallow updip oil-play area and indicate that immature source rocks nearby to Berea oil production are not contributing to produced hydrocarbons.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Oil–source correlation studies in the shallow Berea Sandstone petroleum system, eastern Kentucky
Series title American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin
DOI 10.1306/08192019077
Volume 105
Issue 3
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Contributing office(s) Eastern Energy Resources Science Center
Description 26 p.
First page 517
Last page 542
Country United States
State Kentucky
Other Geospatial Northeast Kentucky
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