TESLA Petroleomics (Phase II)

The key to unravelling extremely complex mixtures

Today, molecular oil characterization is key to deciphering complex processes in reservoirs involving non-hydrocarbons as well as hydrocarbons, such as in situ processing, biodegradation, identifying key functional groups in petroleum components related to corrosion or fluid viscosity control or designing downstream processing systems for complex polar compound heavy oil mixtures.


Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry (FTICR-MS) is capable of analyzing thousands of components in a petroleum mixture at once founding the concept of petroleomics whereby direct composition to property prediction becomes possible (Marshall and Rodgers, 2004).

Current GCMS based petroleum geochemical protocols quantitatively determine perhaps a few hundred components. FTICR-MS can potentially resolve 1000 times this number of components, which when quantitated and with accompanying molecular formulae, opens the door, in principle, to computational routes to fluid property and phase behavior calculations directly from molecular analysis.

Continuing developing applications will include, in addition to high resolution versions of current applications, reservoir profiling for refinery feed-stock assessment, petroleum systems studies of severely degraded oils with no conventional biomarkers and direct assessment of fluid properties and phase behavior for flow assurance and engineering applications from chemical analysis. The molecular composition of interfacial material and its role during oil production, transportation and refining (rock – oil – water interactions) has to be defined.

In phase 1 of this project, we were able to produce qualitative and semi-quantitative biodegradation, maturity and to some extent source facies assessment tools. These and other petroleum systems tools will be further developed to better understand processes such as maturity, expulsion, migration, biodegradation and solidification. Studies will include the origin of sulfur compounds to differentiate TSR, BSR, and TCA processes.

Find out more details

Contact Dr Thomas Oldenburg for further information.