Subsurface information on source rock potential of the Eocene shale unit of the Abakaliki Fold Belt is limited and has not been widely discussed. The total organic carbon (TOC) content and results of rock-eval pyrolysis for nine shale samples, as well as the one-dimensional (1D) geochemical model, from an exploration well in the Abakaliki Fold Belt were used to evaluate the source rock potentials and timing of hydrocarbon generation of Lower Eocene source rocks. The TOC content values of all the samples exceeded the minimum threshold value of 0.5 wt.% required for potential source rocks. A pseudo-Van Krevelen plot for the shale samples indicated Type II–III organic matter capable of generating gaseous hydrocarbon at thermally mature subsurface levels. The 1D burial model suggests that the Eocene source rock is capable of generating oil and gas at the present time. The modelled transformation ratio trend indicates that a fair amount of hydrocarbon has been expelled from the source rocks. The results of this study indicate that the Eocene source units may have charged the overlying thin Eocene sand bodies of the Abakaliki Fold Belt.