Geochemistry Program to Support Oil & Gas Exploration

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Martin Fowler, Applied Petroleum Technologies

Start Date:      May 2016

End Date:       December 2017

A) Piston Core Geochemistry Project

Confirmation of the presence of hydrocarbons from an oil-prone Jurassic age source rock will offer a huge encouragement to the exploration of the deep water portion of the Nova Scotia offshore.  Positive identification of these hydrocarbon types in the sediments that cover bedrock would lower one of the largest perceived risks to the presence of economic accumulations of oil in this area.

In order to determine if hydrocarbons occur beneath the deep water Scotian Shelf, and in particular, if these hydrocarbons have a Jurassic age oil-prone source rock, a geochemical approach is proposed.  A series of geochemical analyses will be conducted on sediment samples retrieved from piston cores collected in a 2016 vessel survey of offshore Nova Scotia. In addition, the piston core samples will be supplemented by analyses of surface oil slick samples, should these slicks be present when coring occurs.

As noted above, this work is an extension to the 2015 Piston Core Program and also forms part of the Microbial Genomics project. The Piston Core Geochemistry Project involves a sample collection aboard the survey vessel, laboratory analyses, data interpretation, integration and reporting.


Final Report [PDF]

Geochemistry Data Report Plus Interpretation – Part 1 [PDF]

Geochemistry Data Report Plus Interpretation – Part 2 [PDF]

Summary Piston Core Map 3 Revised Fig 12 [PDF]

Piston Core Location Map Revised Fig 1 [PDF]

AGI Digital Data [EXCEL]

AGI TIC 1410-2 Scan [PDF]

AGI TIC 1410-2 SIM [PDF]

Slick Report for NRC September 9, 2016 [PDF]


Fowler, M., Webb, J., Hubert, C., Li, C. and Macdonald, A. (2018) Implications for Petroleum Systems in the Deep Water Scotian Slope, Offshore Nova Scotia based on Geochemical and Microbiological Analyses of Piston Core Samples. Geoconvention 2018, Calgary May 2018.

Fowler, M. and Webb, J. (2018) Summary of Geochemical Investigations on Offshore Nova Scotia DoE 2015-2017 Piston Coring Samples. Microbial Genomics for De-Risking Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration in Nova Scotia Workshop. Calgary, January, 2018.

Li., C., Stacey, D., Chakraborty, A., Bernard, B., Brooks, J., MacDonald, A., Webb, J., Fowler, M. and Hubert, C. (2017) Cultivation independent microbial genomics for de-risking offshore deep water oil and gas exploration. ISMOS-6, San Diego June 2017.

Hubert, C.R., Li, C., Stacey, D.K., Adebayo, O., Chakrabarty, Ellefson, E., Bernard, B., Brooks, J., Macdonald, A., Webb, J. and Fowler, M.G. (2017) Incorporating microbial anomalies into seabed geochemical prospecting in different deep-water settings. Gussow Conference, Banff, October, 2017.

Hubert, C., Li, C., Chakraboty, A., Stacey, D., Gittins, D., Bernard, B., Brooks, J., Macdonald, A. Webb, J. and Fowler, M. (2018) Microbiological Approaches for de-risking offshore deep water oil and gas exploration. Geoconvention, Calgary May, 2018.


B) Sydney Basin and Nova Scotia Forensic Geochemistry

This Sydney Basin and Nova Scotia Forensic Geochemistry project is being undertaken to support the 2017 Call for Bids in the Sydney Basin, NS. The overarching objective of this work is to improve understanding of the geochemistry of the Sydney Basin petroleum systems.  This project will help determine the timing of hydrocarbon generation and expulsion, and the integrity of oil and gas traps and seals since the hydrocarbons were first generated. This evaluation will be critical for determining the hydrocarbon prospectivity of the Sydney Basin.

The project assembles existing geochemical information and data from a number of sources, conducts a data gap analysis, then generates new data through the geochemical analysis of newly collected rock samples.  The results of this work is then integrated with modelling and geological data from other on-going projects commissioned by NSDOE.


Sydney Basin Petroleum Systems – Synthesis of Historical & New Geochemical Data – Final Report [PDF]

Sydney Basin & Nova Scotia Forensic Geochemistry Final Report [PDF]


Fowler, M.G., Webb, J., Obermajer, M., Mort, A., Luheshi, M. and Macdonald, A. (2016) Petroleum Systems of the Scotian Basin, AAPG Annual Convention, Calgary June 2016. [PDF]

Fowler, M. and Webb, J. (2017) Petroleum Systems of the Sydney Basin, onshore and offshore Nova Scotia. GeoConvention 2017, Calgary May 2017.


C) Morocco Geochemistry Project

There is an extensive shared geological history between Morocco and Nova Scotia, which can be examined to improve the understanding of offshore petroleum systems and hydrocarbon resource potential in both Nova Scotia and Morocco.  To this end, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy has commissioned two related projects: the Morocco Geochemistry Project (described here) and the Morocco Margin Structural Restoration Project, which will be undertaken in 2016 by Beicip Franlab once a memorandum of understanding for data exchange has been reached with the Moroccan government. Again, the data, analyses and conclusions will be integrated into the larger PFA and used to support the 2017 call for bids.

The objective of the Morocco Geochemistry Project is to examine data from offshore and onshore Morocco to determine the presence and characteristics of effective Jurassic oil-prone source rocks. This data together with that from the Morocco Margin Structural Project will then be used to predict whether their equivalents occur in the undrilled, deep water Nova Scotia offshore.

This project will have three phases: (1) a literature review; (2) selective new geochemical analyses of existing and newly collected samples; and (3) data interpretation and reporting.

This project is currently ongoing.  Once finished, the reports will be posted.