The Alpine foreland basin is a minor oil and moderate gas province in central Europe and is considered as mature in terms of hydrocarbon exploration. During this time many studies have been performed to understand the petroleum system in the basin. Within this context, organic geochemical, biomarker and stable isotope data have been used to characterize potential source rocks and their lateral variability in facies and maturity, as well as in oil-source rock correlations. However, till now all studies have focused on the C15+ hydrocarbon fraction of oil samples. Hence, the aim of the present study is to explore the information provided by the light hydrocarbon fraction with respect to maturity, kerogen type and hydrocarbons alteration. Results from the Austrian foreland basin reveal that hydrocarbons are derived from kerogen type II, which is in agreement with results from “classical” biomarkers studies. Maturity estimates based on the light hydrocarbon fraction correlate very well with estimates based on aromatic hydrocarbons. Water washing, which is difficult to trace using higher hydrocarbons fraction, can be clearly identified applying light hydrocarbons. Oil-water interaction yields information on hydrodynamic mechanisms in active aquifers, which are important for drilling issues, oil production as well as hydrothermal potential estimations.


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