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Open Access Commercial development and application of the Re-Os geochronometer and tracer to petroleum systems

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Hydrocarbons and their derivative products are central to today's society. We know that the source of hydrocarbons are products of buried ancient plants and animals. Less clear, and question that petroleum geoscientists both academic and industrial are challenged with, is establishing the time that hydrocarbons, such as oil, form and how they are trapped in petroleum systems large enough to be exploited. To address this question of the origin and time of formation of hydrocarbons, the naturally occurring isotopic clock of 187Rhenium-187Osmium present in oil is utilized. This ability to directly date oil and not rely on multi-component models are important because petroleum explorers, need to know the origin of hydrocarbons in a sedimentary basin to constrain where they might be able to accumulate, or whether they are able to accumulate at all. With oil exploration drillholes costing multiple millions of dollars, every piece of data informing site location is of immense worth.

Whilst the potential utility of the Rhenium-Osmium system to petroleum systems is now proven, its wide scale application and routine development by industry during exploration is still very much in its infancy. Thus, engagement with industry is needed to develop a portfolio of asset-based case studies needed to improve the understanding of Rhenium-Osmium systematics and assess the general applicability of the method to hydrocarbon-bearing basins worldwide.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Durham University, United Kingdom

Publication date: November 1, 2016

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