Evidence for a new oil family in the Nancar Trough area, Timor Sea

S. C. George, H. Volk, T. E. Ruble, M. P. Brincat

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paperpeer-review


Geochemical evidence is presented for a previously unrecognised oil generative source rock in the Nancar Trough area. This source rock supplements the middle to late Jurassic source rocks, which have previously been shown to have generated most of the oils in the northern Bonaparte Basin and the Vulcan Sub-basin. Fluids with a strong contribution from this new source rock, defined here as the Nancar oil family, have an unusually high abundance of mid-chain substituted monomethylalkanes. In comparison, oils from the Vulcan Sub-basin contain mostly terminally substituted monomethylalkanes and the overall abundance is much lower. Oils from the Laminaria High and some from the northern Vulcan Sub-Basin show intermediate characteristics and may be co-sourced. Evidence from the analysis of fluid inclusion oils was important in establishing the presence of the new oil family because interference from drilling mud contaminants could be excluded. The detailed geochemistry of Ludmilla–1 fluid inclusion oil suggests the source rock for the Nancar oil family was deposited in a marine environment under sub-oxic conditions with limited sulphur content, a low contribution of terrestrial organic matter and a high contribution of organic matter from bacterial activity. Since monomethylalkanes are typical biomarkers of cyanobacteria, the source rock that gave rise to the new oil family may be rich in cyanobacterial organic matter. Further studies on sediment extracts are needed to establish an explicit oil-source rock correlation and to identify the stratigraphic location/palaeo-environment of the source rock. Such information will be valuable in determining the prospectivity of the large and relatively unexplored province draining the Nancar Trough kitchen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-404
Number of pages18
JournalThe APPEA Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes
EventThe 2002 Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference - Adelaide
Duration: 21 Apr 200224 Apr 2002


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