A large number of theories proposed in the past to make clear the origin of petroleum are classified into two major concepts : inorganic and organic (biogenic) origin. Until the early years of this century, the inorganic origin has been lasted by many advocators. In recent years, kerogen becomes to be widely accepted as a petroleum origin. Hydrocarbon starts to be generated, at first gradually, then rapidly, by thermal cracking of kerogen with increasing depth of burial. This concept was proposed, at first by ABELSON (1963) and was advocated by COOPER et al. (1963), PHILIPPI, (1965), TISSOT et al. (1971) and the other researchers on reliable evidences. Prompting by their geochemical studies on organic matter in the sedimentary rocks in petroliferous areas, many strong geological evidences which are profitable for this concept have been introduced one after another. In this general review, the history of the theory on origin of petroleum, geological evidences which are profitable for the kerogen concept, relationship between diagenesis of the sedimented organic matter and petroleum generation, and time-temperature relation in petroleum generation are presented. There is still contraversy on the theory of the primary migration. The deposit of petroleum is formed through three processes : generation, migration and accumulation. The concept of petroleum origin must not be, therefore, inconsistent with those of the other processes. The study on kerogen itself is undoubtedly important and moreover to search an evidence of direct relation between source rock and petroleum accumulation is expected in the future.
Primary and secondary migration of hydrocarbon are generally recognised among petroleum geologists. The former is defined as an expulsion of hydrocarbon from source to reservoir rocks although its concept is rather complicated in conjunction with petroleum genesis. The latter is the movement of hydrocarbon within reservoir rocks. On hydrocarbon genesis, opinion seem to have recently converged to the diagenetic theory. As the depth range of petroleum genesis is relatively long, some geologists favor early diagenetic stage of primary migration and the others emphasize late diagenetic stage. Therefore, the mechanisms for primary migration should guite differ between the two ideas, because rock properties considerably vary with depths. In this point of view, the theory of primary migration is not said to be established yet. The author has studied on the timing of primary hydrocarbon migration in the Japanese oil-bearing Neogene system mainly from the geohistorical aspect, and arrived at the conclusion that its principal timing is during the early mature stage, that is to say, within mature range of 0.5 to 0.7% in vitrinite reflectance Ro, and also that hydrocarbon generated in the late diagenetic stage is not able to migrate any more. Porosity of muddy sediments during primary migration is estimated to be from 15 to 25%, and media with which hydrocarbon migrates is pore water then exulsed from muddy sediments by compaction. Although many oil fields are often said to be well explained when assuming late diagenetic stage migration, it is noteworthy many writers recently intends to explain the formation of these oil fields in a light of the theory of early stage migration. Why the timing of primary migration should be seriously discussed is due to not only academic interest but also its technological and economical influence to practical exploration procedures. On the contrary to the complicated problems on primary migration, secondary one has been a well difined physical process which is quantitatively dealt with through experiments in laboratories. Its main force is bouyancy, and resistant force for secondary migration is capillary pressure. These are relatively easily calculated using simple equations immediately after obtaining unknown physical qauntities related to the equations. A better understanding of principles of bouyancy and capillary pressure on secondary migration will lead to the effective development of oil fields, and particulary to the discovery of unusual accumulations such as permeability traps.
Worldwide petroleum exploration and development activities are moderatly active. Crude oil reserves in the Middle East occupy more than half of world reserves and its role for world petroleum supply is very important in short and middle terms. However, undiscovered petroleum potential in this area is limited, because so much exploration works had been done and many giant fields were already discovered there. Mexican petroleum potential is very big, however future petroleum supply from Mexico is not clear at the present exploration stage in this country. Russia has some shortages in the fields of technology and infra-stracture, therefore it will be not expected that production to raise considerably in future even though the petroleum potential in this country is very huge. Many international oil companies are participating into Chinese offshore petroleum exploration activity. It is general anxious that the petroleum supply worldwide would not be enough for increasing demand in near future. Therefore, the exploration activities in the frontier areas are essential for the human living. The frontier areas include remote areas on-shore, deep waters, arctics and antarctics. Amounts of petroleum distributing in these areas are expected to be immense even though the exploration cost is thought to be expensive. Recovery efficiency from oil reservoirs is generally low, therefore the techniques to increase the recovery are progressevely advancing. The enhanced oil recovery techniques include thermal flooding, carbon dioxide flooding and surfactant/polymer flooding. They are the promising future under the circumstances of raising oil prices worldwide.
It is clear that the exploration geophysics has clearly contributed to find petroleum and natural gas resources world wide. In future too, there will be no method superior than the geophysical methods for this purpose especially in offshore areas and for deeply seated hydrocarbone deposits, although the methods shall be improved more. The present review chiefly concerns with two geophysical methods, i. e. reflection seismic and gravity. In this review, a short history of technicla development including data aquisition, data processing and progress in interpretation are descrived with figures.