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Chevron Basin Modeling Center of Excellence

  • Source rock expulsion mechanisms and migration efficiency
    • —Tectonically stable basins: Williston Basin (Bakken oil shale)
    • —Tectonically active basins: Los Angeles Basin (Monterrey and others)
  • Basin to reservoir simulation


Using the latest technology, Chevron continues to make major discoveries in the United States while maintaining strong production in mature fields. In 2013, Chevron founded a research and teaching center of excellence in the College of Geosciences focused on basin modeling.

Chevron is the largest liquids producer and one of the largest hydrocarbon producers in the United States. In 2013, they produced an average of 657,000 barrels [????] of net oil-equivalent per day, or about one-fourth of the corporation’s worldwide total.[Clarify]

The company’s major operations in the United States are in California, the Gulf of Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. These extensive operations have allowed Berg-Hughes students to work firsthand with Chevron in petroleum exploration and production.

Linking Basin and Reservoir Workflows with Models

As a result of scale and computational capabilities, basin modeling and reservoir simulator software have developed independently, although a growing need and the potential to integrate these two scales of simulations exist. Computational speed and memory have increased the resolution of basin models. bringing them closer to the reservoir simulator. Furthermore, the industry is more aware that the full life cycle of a project should be considered, and that an approach to ensure smooth flow and transition from exploration processes (basin modeling) to production (reservoir simulator) is required. The linking or merging of these processes should provide a better understanding of fluid flow. Our research explores methods to link these different approaches and demonstrate the knowledge gained.

Hydrocarbon Generation and Retention

Organic richness, thermal maturity, and brittleness are the aspects of rock character that are commonly considered. When assessing which source rocks have the potential to be either a conventional source rock or an unconventional reservoir retention and expulsion of hydrocarbons should be considered in unconventional resources. Conventional source rocks effectively expel their generated products while unconventional reservoirs have retained their products. This research examines the factors that control retention and expulsion through a combination of laboratory, field, and modeling studies. Detailed analysis of a suite of organic rich formation to characterizes and provides insight on the state of generated hydrocarbons, including stratigraphic patterns, mineralogy, grain size, and organic matter content and character.

Direct Geophysical Input to Basin Models

Geophysical data provide key input to basin models. Currently these data are indirectly used. The potential to significantly improve the quality and resolution of basin models as well as to gain a clearer understanding of the uncertainty associated with the geologic interpretation resulting from the uncertainty in the assigned velocity structure. This study focuses on:

1) how geophysical attributes may be directly used to populate basin models with a variety of rock properties at higher resolution than currently being obtained from geologic maps

2) the impact and magnitude of the effects of variations in structural geometry caused by uncertainty in the velocity model and its impact on charge volume and distribution 

Impact of Structural Evolution, Uplift, and Subsidence Rates on Basin Models

The structural evolution of a basin influences migration patterns, the timing of generation and secondary cracking, as well as controls the distribution of sediment within a basin. This work focuses on refining the way data are evaluated and incorporated into basin models. A suite of geochronometers and geothermometers is used to determine their utility and limitations. Methods used to estimate missing stratigraphic sections and the impact of unconformities on model results will be considered. We anticipate an integrated study that combines field, laboratory, and modeling components.

Basin Modeling of Nonhydrocarbon Components

Basin models have focused on hydrocarbon generation and presentation, expected volumes, and phase. Hydrocarbon quality has not generally been addressed, with the exception of some simplistic approaches to examine biodegradation. The value of an individual accumulation may be significantly impacted by the presence of non-hydrocarbons. These components reduce the energy content of the gas and may add significantly to development costs. The proposed study will develop quantitative modeling approaches to one or more the primary contaminants (CO2, H2S, N2 and Hg). A combination of laboratory and field-based studies will establish the foundation on which the models will be developed.

Seal Character and Impact Associated with Hydrocarbon Migration and Accumulation

Basin modeling results largely depend on the physical attributes assigned. Key among the controls on hydrocarbon migration are the sealing properties of the non-carrier beds, which in large part, are controlled by the diagenetic history. We are examining the diagenetic history of fine-grained beds and its influence on sealing characteristics and the changes in sealing characteristics as it influences migration patterns (including the relative importance of lateral vs. vertical flow) and the accumulation of hydrocarbons.

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