Biomarker fingerprints of oils and source-rock extracts have proven extremely valuable for oil to source-rock correlations. These correlations are necessary for defining Petroleum Systems and deriving accurate basin models. One family of biomarkers which have proven to be especially valuable is composed of those which indicate source rocks deposited in anoxic depositional environments associated with elevated salinities. Such biomarkers are used to define Petroleum Systems in the Middle East.

One major limitation of the use of conventional biomarkers for correlations is their relatively low thermal stability, i.e. they tend to be absent or in very low concentrations in highly-mature oils and condensates. To solve the stability problem, we recently developed an oil fingerprinting technique based on distributions of highly thermally stable diamondoids. This new methodology, Quantitative Extended Diamondoid Analysis, or QEDA, makes use of differences in the concentrations of the higher diamondoids, including three tetramantanes, four pentamantanes and cyclohexamantane. In a recent study of oils and source-rock extracts from Kuwait, we observed very unusual QEDA distributions in some samples which appeared to be associated with hypersalinity of the source rocks.

In this extract, the concentrations of certain pentamantanes are actually greater than that of triamantane (generally triamantane concentrations are two orders of magnitude greater than those of the pentamantanes).

It appears that further QEDA studies of extracts from Kuwait source rocks and oils will allow for the development of an entirely new diamondoid-based source indicator indicative of source-rock salinity. Such an indicator would prove highly useful in Kuwait, throughout the Middle East and worldwide for better identifying effective source rocks and source-rock facies and correlating them to oils even oils and condensates of the highest thermal maturity. It would also allow for a better recognition of mixed-source oils derived from both lower and higher maturity sources. Finally, it would provide a means to determine the Generative Petroleum System of any oil, no matter what its maturity, leading to better and more accurate basin models.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Moldowan, J.M., Dahl, J.E., Zinniker, D. and Barbanti, S.M.
    [2015] Underutilized advanced geochemical technologies for oil and gas exploration and production-1. The diamondoids. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 126, 87–96.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Connan, J., Bouroullec, J., Dessort, D. and Albrecht, P.
    [1986] The microbial input in carbonate anhydrite facies of a sabkha palaeoenvironment from Guatemala: a molecular approach. Organic Geochemistry, 10, 29–50.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error