Petroleum Systems Modeling

Lothar Friberg, PhDINSTRUCTOR: Lothar Friberg, PhD
DISCIPLINE: Engineering, Geoscience
CEUS: 2.4
AVAILABILITY: Public & In-House


Check back in periodically for updated Public course dates! To schedule an In-House course, contact SCA's Training Department at
WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Designed for geologists, geophysicists, and engineers actively working in exploration.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The course covers the concepts of what a petroleum system is comprised of and the benefits of integrating petroleum systems modeling as a discipline in your exploration workflow. In this context, participants will learn about the key parameters required to conduct a petroleum systems modeling study. Day 3 will include a customized hands-on exercise using the client’s data.

  • Introduction to different source rock types and their classification regarding depositional environments, organofacies and kinetics. Brief summary of the analysis methods.
  • Heat sources and rock properties affecting the temperature field.
  • Thermal maturity of organic matter and parameters to determine it.
  • Compaction behavior, pressure distribution and the effect on fluid flow.
  • Geochemistry of oil and gas including methods to analyze them.
  • Understanding the information stored in geochemical data such as biomarkers and isotopes.
  • Factors and processes affecting petroleum properties.
  • Introduction to basin modeling and what it can do for you.


  • Define source rock organofacies and appropriate kinetic for basin model.
  • Understand heat sources contributing to the temperature field of a sedimentary basin and how the basin fill lithologies are affecting it.
  • Being aware of standard calibration parameters used in basin models.
  • Develop a general knowledge about the wealth of information stored in geochemical data such as maturity and facies and how this information can be utilized in constraining and calibrating your basin model.
  • Identify what are the critical input parameters for a basin model.
  • Understand the different modeling program approaches and being empowered to choose the most appropriate package/dimension for the particular question to answer.
  • Being able to differentiate between strength and weakness of a basin model.

NOTE: You will not learn how to run a petroleum system modeling program such as PetroMod or Zetaware.

  • Introduction
    1. Definition of a petroleum system
  • Source rocks
    1. Depositional environments and organofacies
    2. Source rock analysis and kinetics
    3. What makes a good source rock - examples from around the world
  • Temperature
    1. Heat sources
    2. Conditions affecting the temperature field in a sedimentary basin.
  • Maturity
    1. Definition of thermal maturity
    2. Common thermal maturity parameters
  • Fluid flow
    1. Compaction
    2. Pressures and fluid flow/migration
  • Geochemistry
    1. Analytics (GC, GCMS, Isotopes)
    2. Biomarkers and their application
    3. Natural gases
    4. Factors and processes affecting petroleum properties
    5. Surface geochemistry
  • Basin modeling
    1. Purpose for modeling
    2. Petroleum systems modeling workflow and data requirements.
    3. Modeling dimensions and techniques
    4. Addressing uncertainties and mitigating them (scenario testing)

Data required for Day 3 custom exercise:
The plan is to build 1D model(s) in PetroMod 1D from scratch with data provided by the client. In the hands-on exercise, the idea is to experiment with different input parameters and altering them to see how the model(s) is/are affected by these changes.
Data requirements for PetroMod 1D:
This is a wish list of data. Models can be run with less, but this should be discussed prior to data collection. The basic elements are similar for most models, but some may have particular requirements.

  1. Tops table all the way down to basement including ages in millions of years.
  2. Lithologies of units between tops; can be grossed up from wells, sequence strat analysis, cyclostrat, etc.. Please report in % SS, % Silt, % Sh, % LS, or other mixes, if possible. These can be grossed up from formations to inter-horizons units using lithologic logs or a detailed strat column.
  3. Paleo Water Depth: Estimate of paleo-environment (water depth) through time for sediment-water interface temperature calculation.
  4. Calibration Data: Temperature and vitrinite from nearest well/analog for calibration; if possible, include multiple BHT information with correction data (circulation time, and time since circulation); MDT measurements; original vitrinite data or histograms if available.
  5. Heat flow data: regional, literature, heat flow measurements; if rifted, time of rifting, B-factor, thermal decay, previous models or literature.
  6. Source Rock/Hydrocarbons: Source rock location, TOC, kerogen type, HI, thickness; if hypothetical source, stratigraphic location and properties prior to model is constructed. Kinetics, if available.
  7. Salt: Top salt and base salt maps, estimates of timing of movement. Contact me regarding best strategy for modeling a particular basin’s salt geometries; depending of the complexity of the salt, 2/3D is required for useful temperature/maturity calculations.