The Occurrence and Distribution of Oleanane Biomarkers in Crude Oils as an Index

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Pure and Industrial Chemistry, University of Port Harcourt,Choba, Port Harcourt, NigeriaCentre for Marine Pollution Monitoring and Seafood Safety, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

2 Department of Geology,University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Port Harcourt, NigeriaCentre for Petroleum Geosciences, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Port Harcourt, Nigeria



Oleanane biomarkers are age diagnostic indicators and source of organic matter input in fossil fuels which can unravels the stage of development of a petroleum system in the petroleum generating rock. Representative samples of crude oil obtained from two separate fields in the southern Nigeria province were evaluated geochemically using Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry. The data obtained from the analysis of the crude oil samples revealed the presence of the 18α (H)-oleanane biomarker. The occurrence of 18α (H)-oleanane biomarker in the Niger Delta oils provides diagnostic evidence on age and organic matter source in all samples. The results of the Oleanane indices for all samples ranged from 0.32 to 1.03 (> 0.30), which suggests that the oils are from Tertiary age source rocks with resilient terrestrial organic matter input. Only crude oil sample KD03 had an Oleanane index of 0.03 (< 0.30), which shows crude oils derived from a late cretaceous or younger age with some marine input. The presence of 18α (H)-Oleanane in Niger Delta crude oils is a confirmation of an earlier postulation that most crude oils from the region had a greater terrestrial organic matter input.


  1. Alberdi M, Lopez L (2000) Biomarker 18α (H)-oleanane: a geochemical tool to assess Venezuelan petroleum systems, Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 13, 8: 751-759.##
  2. El Diasty W S, Moldowan J M (2013) The Western Desert versus Nile Delta: A comparative molecular biomarker study Marine and petroleum geology, 46: 319-334. ##
  3. Cortes J E, Niño J E, Polo J A, Tobo A G, Gonzalez C, Siachoque S C (2013) Molecular organic geochemistry of the Apiay field in the Llanos basin, Colombia, Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 47: 166-178. ##
  4. Wang C, Du J, Gao X, Duan Y, Sheng Y (2011) Chemical characterization of naturally weathered oil residues in the sediment from Yellow River Delta, China, Marine pollution bulletin, 62, 11: 2469-2475. ##
  5. Alias F L, Abdullah W H, Hakimi M H, Azhar M H, Kugler R L (2012) Organic geochemical characteristics and depositional environment of the Tertiary Tanjong Formation coals in the Pinangah area, onshore Sabah, Malaysia, International Journal of Coal Geology, 104: 9-21. ##
  6. Rullkötter J, Peakman T M, Ten Haven H L (1994) Early diagenesis of terrigenous triterpenoids and its implications for petroleum geochemistry, Organic Geochemistry, 21, 3-4: 215-233. ##
  7. Peters K E, Moldowan J M (1993) The biomarker guide. interpreting molecular fossils in petroleum and ancient sediments, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. ##
  8. Moldowan J M, Dahl J, Huizinga B J, Fago F J, Hickey L J, Peakman T M, Taylor D W (1994) The molecular fossil record of oleanane and its relation to angiosperms, Science, 265, 5173: 768-771. ##
  9. Bence A E, Keith A K, Kennicutt Ii M C (1996) Organic geochemistry applied to environmental assessments of Prince William Sound, Alaska, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill—a review, Organic geochemistry, 24, 1: 7-42. ##
  10. Page D S, Boehm P D, Douglas G S, Bence A E, Burns W A, Mankiewicz P J (1996) The natural petroleum hydrocarbon background in subtidal sediments of Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: An International Journal, 15, 8: 1266-1281. ##
  11. Caccialanza P G, Riva A (1987) Separation and identification of a new biological marker, 18β(H)-oleanane, in crude oils and ancient sediments, using high resolution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, Documents from the Eighth International Symposium on Capillary Chromatography, II, 704 –713. ##
  12. Peters K E, Clutson M J, Robertson G (1999) Mixed marine and lacustrine input to an oil-cemented sandstone breccia from Brora, Scotland, Organic Geochemistry, 30, 4: 237-248. ##
  13. Taylor D W, Li H, Dahl J, Fago F J, Zinniker D, Moldowan J M (2006) Biogeochemical evidence for the presence of the angiosperm molecular fossil oleanane in Paleozoic and Mesozoic non-angiospermous fossils, Paleobiology, 32, 2: 179-190. ##
  14. Doyle J A Donoghue M J (1993) Phylogenies and angiosperm diversification Paleobiology, 141-167.
  15. Crane P R (1994) Time for the angiosperms, Nature, 366: 631–632. ##
  16. Taylor D W, Li H, Dahl J, Fago F J, Zinniker D, Moldowan J M (2006) Biogeochemical evidence for the presence of the angiosperm molecular fossil oleanane in Paleozoic and Mesozoic non-angiospermous fossils, Paleobiology, 32, 2: 179-190. ##
  17. Van Bree L G J, Islam M M, Rijpstra W I C, Verschuren D, van Duin A C T, Damsté J S, de Leeuw J W (2018) Origin, formation and environmental significance of des-A-arborenes in the sediments of an East African crater lake, Organic Geochemistry, 125: 95-108. ##
  18. Dubois N, Jérémy J (2016) Molecular biomarkers of anthropic impacts in natural archives: A review, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 4: 92. ##
  19. Haack R C, Sundararaman P, Diedjomahor J O, Gant N J (2002) Niger Delta Petroleum Systems: Regional Geology, Organic Facies and Thermal Maturity, In AAPG Annual Meeting. ##
  20. Kaplan A., Lusser C. U., Norton  O. (1994) Tectonic map of the world, panel 10”. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, AAPG Tulsa. ##
  21. Kulke H, Zantop H (1995) Regional Petroleum Geology of the World. Part I: Europe and Asia. Part II: Africa, America, Australia and Antarctica. Economic Geology and the Bulletin of the Society of Economic Geologists, 90, 5: 1354. ##
  22. Tuttle M L, Charpentier R R, Brownfield M E (1999) The Niger delta petroleum system: Niger delta province, Nigeria, Cameroon, and equatorial guinea, Africa, US Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey, 50-99. ##
  23. Stacher P (1995) Present understanding of the Niger Delta hydrocarbon habitat, in, Oti, M.N.,and Postma,G., eds., Geology of Deltas, Rotterdam, A.A. Balkema, 257-267. ##
  24. Doust H, Omatsola E (1990) Niger Delta, in, Edwards, J. D. and Santogrossi, P.A., eds., Divergent/passive Margin Basins, AAPG Memoir 48:Tulsa, Association of Petroleum Geologists, 239-248. ##
  25. Avbovbo A A (1978) Tertiary lithostratigraphy of Niger Delta, American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, 62: 295-300. ##
  26. Smith-Rouch L S, Meisling K E, Hennings P E, Armentrout J M (1996) Tectono-stratigraphic computer experiments—Nigeria example, American Association of Petroleum Geologist Bulletin Abstracts. ##
  27. Murray A P, Sosrowidjojo I B, Alexander R, Kagi R I, Norgate C M, Summons, R. E. (1997) Oleananes in oils and sediments: evidence of marine influence during early diagenesis,. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 61, 6: 1261-1276. ##
  28. Nytoft H P, Kildahl-Andersen G, Samuel O J (2010) Rearranged oleananes: Structural identification and distribution in a worldwide set of Late Cretaceous/Tertiary oils, Organic geochemistry, 41, 10: 1104-1118. ##
  29. Riva A, Caccialanza P G, Quagliaroli F (1988) Recognition of 18β (H) oleanane in several crudes and Tertiary-Upper Cretaceous sediments. Definition of a new maturity parameter, Organic Geochemistry,13, 4-6: 671-675. ##
  30. Armanios C (1995) Molecular sieving, analysis and geochemistry of some pentacyclic triterpanes in sedimentary organic matter, PhD dissertation, Curtin University. ##
  31. Mahmoodi S M I, Bhattacharya S K (2014) Reliability of 18α (H)-Oleanane Biomarker as Age Indicator of Source Deposition, GSTF Journal of Geological Sciences (JGS), 20, 1: 1. ##
  32. Ekweozor C M, Okogun J I, Ekong D E U, Maxwell J R (1981) C24–C27 degraded triterpanes in Nigerian petroleum: Novel molecular markers of source/input or organic maturation, In Developments in Economic Geology, 15: 653-662. ##
  33. Philp R P T, Gilbert T D (1986) Biomarker distributions in Australian oils predominantly derived from terrigenous source material, Organic Geochemistry, 10: 1-3, 73-84. ##
  34. Riva A, Caccialanza P G, Quagliaroli F (1988) Recognition of 18β (H) oleanane in several crudes and Tertiary-Upper Cretaceous sediments. Definition of a new maturity parameter, Organic Geochemistry, 13, 4-6: 671-675. ##
  35. Philp P, Wood M, Gorenekli Y S, Nguyen T, Symcox C, Wang H, Kim D (2021). The presence of 18α (H)-oleanane in Pennsylvanian and Mississippian rocks in the Anadarko Basin, Oklahoma, Organic Geochemistry, 152:104181. ##
  36. Hunt J M (1996) Petroleum Geochemistry and Geology. 2nd Edition. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, 1-138. ##
  37. Nytoft H P, Bojesen-Koefoed J A, Christiansen F G, Fowler M G (2002) Oleanane or lupane? Reappraisal of the presence of oleanane in Cretaceous–Tertiary oils and sediments, Organic Geochemistry, 33, 11: 1225-1240. ##
  38. Ekweozor C M, Udo O T (1988) The oleananes: origin, maturation and limits of occurrence in Southern Nigeria sedimentary basins, Organic Geochemistry In Petroleum Exploration, Pergamon, 131-140. ##
  39. Peters K E, Walters C C, Moldowan J M (2005) The biomarker guide, biomarkers and isotopes in petroleum exploration and earth history. 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK; New York, 475–1155. ##
  40. Nakamura H (2019) Plant-derived triterpenoid biomarkers and their applications in paleoenvironmental reconstructions: chemotaxonomy, geological alteration, and vegetation reconstruction, Research in Organic Geochemistry, 35: 11-35. ##
  41. Waseda A, Nishita H (1998) Geochemical characteristics of terrigenous-and marine-sourced oils in Hokkaido, Japan, Organic Geochemistry, 28, 1-2: 27-41. ##
  42. Syed M I M, Swapan K B (2013) Reliability of 18α(H)-Oleanane Biomarker as Age Indicator of Source Deposition, International Journal of Geological Science, 1, 1: 43-49. ##