Publications (click on title to donwload)                                

The geochemistry of two unusual oils from the Norwegian North Sea: implications for new source rock and play scenario (Pedersen et al., 2006, Petroleum Geoscience 12, p. 13-28)

Maturity and source-rock potential of Palaeozoic sediments in the NW European Northern Permian Basin (Pedersen et al., 2006, Petroleum Geoscience 12, p. 85-96)


Posters published at conferences (click on title to download pdf)

Atypical source rocks and petroleums of the Norwegian continental shelf

Degradation of oil in relation to the Barents Sea

Maturity and organic facies of Mesozoic and Palaeozoic petroleum from off- and onshore Scandinavia

Oil and gas of the Norwegian Barents Sea

Palaeozoic petroleum systems of southern Scandinavia I

Palaeozoic petroleum systems of southern Scandinavia II

Petroleum potential and thermal maturity of Palaeozoic sediments from the North Sea region

Petroleum potential, thermal maturity and organic facies of Palaeozoic sediments from the North Sea region

Source Rocks of the Norwegian Barents Sea



AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists)

Conference Alerts

EAGE (European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers)

Geoaktuelt (in Norwegian)

Norwegian Geological Survey

Norwegian Petroleum Directorate




USGS (U. S. Geological Survey)








The oil and gas window







Examples of analytical results of oils by GC-FID (gas chromatography)







GC-MS chromatograms of typical oils from the Norwegian offshore continental shelf, displaying commonly used biomarkers


Welcome to this web site for oil and gas geology


Oil and gas (hydrocarbons) are valuable resources hidden in the subsurface of the Earth.


Geologists and geophysicists use a myriad of advanced techniques in order to find commercial accumulations of oil and gas.



Oils from the Norwegian North Sea



The investigation of organic rich rocks (hydrocarbon source rocks) and their geological history is important to understand the petroleum system in a sedimentary basin. The basic elements of a petroleum system consists of a source rock, a porous and permeable reservoir rock and a tight cap rock.


When organic rich rocks (usually shales containing 4-20 weight % total organic matter (TOC)) are buried, they are subjected to increasing temperatures and pressures (typically 30 degrees Celsius/km).




Hydrocarbon source rock, Carboniferous, Spitsbergen



At about 60 degrees Celsius, oil begins to form in the source rock due to the thermogenic breakdown (cracking) of organic matter (kerogen).


The oil window is a temperature dependant interval in the subsurface where oil is generated and expelled from the source rocks. The oil window is often found in the 60-120 degree Celsius interval (aprox. 2-4 km depth), while the corresponding gas window is found in the 100-200+ degree Celsius interval (3-6 km depth).


After expulsion from the source rock, the oil/gas (lighter than water) migrates upwards through permeable rocks (sandstones) or fractures until they are stopped by a tight, non-permeable layer of rock, like a shale. If hydrocarbons get trapped in a subsurface, geological structure, they may be produced from a hydrocarbon accumulation (reservoir) through an oil well. If not trapped, the hydrocarbons may eventually migrate up to the surface, where they can be seen as seeps.




Cross-plot of data from GC-FID and carbon isotope analysis of natural gases from wells in the Norwegian Barents Sea. Original plot from Whiticar (1994)


Source-rock, oil and gas samples from wells and outcrops are analysed in different ways to assess the compostion, quality and thermal maturity, i.e. what type and how much hydrocarbons the source rocks may generate, and how far in this process the source rocks have come. Hydrocarbons are correlated to their respective source rocks by comparing the contents of specific organic molecules (biomarkers) in the hydrocarbons and in extracts of the source rock. 


Geophysical, geological  and geochemical data are often put together in a digital basin model, which simulates the development of a sedimentary basin through time. Important input is the depth and age of geologic layers, source rock properties and subsurface temperatures. The basin model should be calibrated against measured data, from wells or outcrops.

The results from such analyses are evaluated in the context of the geological and thermal history of the sedimentary basin. By doing this, a basins petroleum system may be defined in time and space. This knowlegde is important when exploring for oil and gas.




Example of cross-plot used for describing the burial of sediments through time. The subsidence curves describe the burial history of the sediments. The figure indicates when they are within the oil/gas window. If organic rich sediments are uplifted, they also cool, and stop generating hydrocarbons until the are reburied.




Geology of Edgeya, Svalbard.




Triassic oil source rocks exposed on Svalbard.



Silurian fluvio-deltaic sandstone, Oslo Graben, Norway



Cambrian marine hydrocarbon source rocks, Oslo Graben, Norway



Permian lacustrine hydrocarbon source rocks, Sydney Basin, Australia



Jurassic shallow marine tidal deposits, Neuquen Basin, Argentina



Devonian fluvial channel sandstones, Porsgrunn, Norway



Permian eolian sandstone (Rotliegend) in a core from a Norwegian North Sea well  2010 Jon Halvard Pedersen