The estimates of undiscovered conventionally recoverable petroleum resources in the Arabian-Iranian basin at probability levels of 95 percent, 5 percent, and statistical mean are for oil (in billions of barrels): 72, 337, and 174; and for gas (in trillions of cubic feet): 299, 1792, and 849. The occurrence of petroleum can be accounted for in five definitive geological settings or plays. The assessment of undiscovered resource potential assumes that the new discoveries will expand the occurrence of petroleum in these basic plays; no additional plays with significant petroleum potential were recognized. The five plays listed by geologic age are: (I) Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary, (II) Lower and Middle Cretaceous sandstone, (III) Lower and Middle Cretaceous limestone, (IV) Jurassic, and (V) Permian. The Permian play, located in the south-central Arabian Gulf region and extending northeast-southwest from southern Iran to the Ar Rub' al Khali in Saudi Arabia, accounts for over four-fifths of the mean estimate of undiscovered gas. The remainder of the gas is divided about equally among the other four plays. The Jurassic play, located on the south side of the Arabian Gulf, accounts for slightly less than one-third of the estimated undiscovered oil, which is split equally between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The Lower and Middle Cretaceous limestone play is located in the southern Gulf region and accounts for about one-fifth of the undiscovered oil, most of which is located in Saudi Arabia and the remainder in the United Arab Emirates. The Lower and Middle Cretaceous sandstone play is centralized in Kuwait at the head of the Arabian Gulf with significant potential extending to the northwest in Iraq; the play accounts for about one-third of the undiscovered oil, the great majority of which is estimated to be in Iraq with the remainder divided between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The upper Cretaceous-Tertiary play is located in the Zagros fold belt of Iran and Iraq and accounts for about one-fifth of the undiscovered oil.
Estimation of the resources in this vast area is hindered by lack of data from certain broad regions, abandoned wells, and several significant dry holes, but the regional geology is well enough reported that geologic projections can be made and inferences from selected wells can be drawn to permit estimation of the resource potential.
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USGS Numbered Series
Assessment of undiscovered conventionally recoverable petroleum resources of the Arabian-Iranian Basin