The hydrocarbon source rock potential of five formations in the Potwar Basin of northern Pakistan – the Sakesar Formation (Eocene); the Patala, Lockhart and Dhak-Pass Formations (Paleocene); and the Datta Formation (Jurassic) – was investigated using Rock-Eval pyrolysis and total organic carbon (TOC) measurement. Samples were obtained from three producing wells referred to as A, B and C. In well A, the upper ca. 100 m of the Eocene Sakesar Formation contained abundant Type III gas-prone organic matter (OM) and the interval appeared to be within the hydrocarbon generation window. The underlying part of the Sakesar Formation contained mostly weathered and immature OM with little hydrocarbon potential. The Sakesar Formation passes down into the Paleocene Patala Formation. Tmax was variable because of facies variations which were also reflected in variations in hydrogen index (HI), TOC and S2/S3 values. In well A, the middle portion of the Patala Formation had sufficient maturity (Tmax 430 to 444°C) and organic richness to act as a minor source for gas. The underlying Lockhart Formation in general contained little OM, although basal sediments showed a major contribution of Type II/III OM and were sufficiently mature for hydrocarbon generation.
In Well B, rocks in the upper 120 m of the Paleocene Patala Formation contained little OM. However, some Type II/III OM was present at the base of the formation, although these sediments were not sufficiently mature for oil generation. The Dhak Pass Formation was in general thermally immature and contained minor amounts of gas-prone OM.
In Well C, the Jurassic Datta Formation contained oil-prone OM. Tmax data indicated that the formation was marginally mature despite sample depths of > 5000 m. The lack of increase in Tmax with depth was attributed to low heat flows during burial. However, burial to depths of more than 5000 m resulted in the generation of moderate quantities of oil from this formation.