Studies indicate that petroleum expulsion from petroleum source rocks is a complex function of source rock type, organic carbon and hydrogen richness, and level of thermal maturity. However, only a low percentage of the expelled petroleums have typically charged conventional petroleum traps based on volumetric assessments. An improved rate of success in exploration for these unaccounted for hydrocarbons from under-explored petroleum source kitchens for both conventional and unconventional resources will make a large difference to global hydrocarbon production. This could substantially extend the life of many highly explored petroleum provinces.
Oil and gas producing source rock systems share several unique aspects that are poorly documented and understood including their organic richness, potentially large hydrocarbon retention capacity, as well as tectonic histories that would prevent hydrocarbon leakage through natural fractures. Risk reduction in unconventional petroleum exploration requires an in-depth understanding of the petroleum system elements and processes on various scales in addition to shale/mudstone reservoir character and evolution.
In recent years there have been numerous specialized conferences that have focused on various aspects of shale gas systems, but none that have attempted to address the fundamental linkages and differences between the economically viable shale gas and shale oil systems. The International Workshop on Shale Oil Resources and Exploitation Technologies held in Wuxi, China on April 14-16, 2012, was a seminal event that encouraged shale oil-oriented discussions. This conference will continue that dialogue, by focusing on the integration of studies from shale oil, shale gas and oil and gas from tight sandstone reservoirs. In addition, the comparison of viable marine and lacustrine shale systems, and the definition of key technology gaps and areas for future research related to shale oil exploration and development will be pursued.