Thermal modelling of the Melut basin Sudan and South Sudan: Implications for hydrocarbon generation and migration

A. Y. Mohamed*, A. J. Whiteman, S. G. Archer, S. A. Bowden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


The thermal history of the Melut rift Basin was studied in a number of wells and along a northeast-southwest cross sectionacross the basin using 1-D and 2-D basin models. Modelling was conducted using PetroMod software to test subsidence, thermal history and their implications for hydrocarbon generation, migration and accumulations. Geotherms were found ranging between 24 and 44 °C/km and average 32 °C/km and present day heat flow was found to vary between 53 and 65 averaging 59 mW/m2. A geologicaly realistic paleoheat flow model with higher heat flow peaks of 75, 70 and 65 mW/m2 during the first, second and third rifting phases respectively, calibrated against vitrinite reflectance data was employed. The model was found sensitive to Cenozoic erosions and a 600 m of exhumation did support the vitrinite data in providing a reasonable fit in most locations. Using the Easy %Ro vitrinite kinetic model for maturity the average present day oil window was found between 1565 and 4050 m in the wells studied and between 1705 and 4200 m along the cross section. Using type-II kerogen for the Aptian-Albian source rocks, the hydrocarbon generation and expulsion were modelled and revealed that the generation started as early as 95 Ma in some areas but significant generation rates were during the second rifting phase and expulsion started at around 85 Ma. Calculations of the probable expelled amounts of hydrocarbon from the northern sub basin are high and up to 2.2 × 1011 bbls of oil and 2.3 × 1014 ft3of gas. Migration of oils from Cretaceous source rocks kitchen to the Cenozoic traps was probably through faults, porous carrier beds and breaching of traps cap rocks. The filling of these traps might be periodic during the rifting episodes and hydrocarbons remigrated from deeper traps to shallow ones. It is possible that thinner and siltier cap rocks along the hydrocarbon migration path, may have allowed gas to scape but holded the oil back. It is most probable that part of the hydrocarbons might have been generated from shallower source rocks areas and a 2-D hybrid Darcy-Flow path model have demonstrated this and predicted a number of accumulations which are similar to the known large discoveries such as Palogue-Fal and Adar-Yale oil fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-762
Number of pages17
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Early online date9 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

We are greatful to the Ministry of petroleum, Sudan, Sudapet, Chevron Oil Company, GRAS Sudan, Petrodar, and Robertson Research International for supplying essential data that enabled this work to be carried out. Especial thanks to Mr Awad Abdel-Fatah the Undersecretary of Sudan’s Oil Ministry and Mr Abu baker Elsheikh Alnoor. Thanks to Dr Awad B. Ibrahim and Mr Mohamed Ali Idris of the Central Petroleum Laboratories (CPL), and Sudapet, Khartoum, for fruitful discussions and to their data management team; Mohamed Alameen Abdel Hameed, Mohamed Adam, Azhari Abdel Gadir, Abdel raheem, Abu Zeid Hassan Salih, and Mohamed Salih Ali. Schlumberger is acknowledged for making available the PetroMod software used in this work and thanks to our computer lead Judith Christie for computer support. The manuscript has benefited from constructive comments and important suggestions by the Associate editor Michael Abrams and anonymous reviewers.


  • Fault modelling
  • Heat flow
  • Hydrocarbon generation
  • Melut rift basin
  • Migration
  • Source rocks maturity
  • Sudan and South Sudan
  • Thermal modelling


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