Total petroleum systems of the Paleozoic and Jurassic, Greater Ghawar Uplift and adjoining provinces of central Saudi Arabia and northern Arabian-Persian Gulf
- Richard M. Pollastro
The greater Paleozoic and Jurassic petroleum systems of the Arabian Peninsula form two of the most prolific petroleum-producing systems in the world. Source rocks of these systems extend throughout the eastern Arabian Peninsula and Arabian-Persian Gulf. Primary elements of these Paleozoic and Jurassic petroleum systems - source, reservoir, and seal rocks - are of great areal extent and exceptional quality. The combination of these regionally extensive, exceptional petroleum-system elements, and the formation of large subtle structural closures prior to, or coincident with, peak oil generation and migration, have produced oil and gas fields with reserve volumes second to none.
Two total petroleum systems (TPS), one of Paleozoic age and one of Jurassic age, in the central part of the Arabian Peninsula are identified in this report. The Central Arabia Qusaiba-Paleozoic TPS and the Arabian Sub-Basin Tuwaiq/Hanifa-Arab TPS of Jurassic age encompass the Greater Ghawar Uplift Province (USGS Province 2021) and portions of adjoining geologic provinces. Structures that trap hydrocarbons in these systems are mostly (1) large, gentle anticlines formed from reactivated basement fault blocks, (2) salt domes that resulted from halokinesis, or (3) structural traps resulting from a combination of these two processes. Major tectonic events that created these structures resulted from early Zagros rifting during the Early Triassic and two Alpine tectonic episodes that occurred during the Late Cretaceous and middle to late Tertiary.
Hydrocarbons of the Central Arabia Qusaiba-Paleozoic TPS are sourced mainly by organic-rich, so-called "hot shale" that occurs in the basal part of the Lower Silurian Qusaiba Member of the Qalibah Formation. Oil and gas are produced mainly from sandstones of the Permian Unayzah and Devonian Jauf Formations, and from basal transgressive marine sandstones and cyclic, dolomitic shelf-carbonates of the Late Permian Khuff Formation. Two assessment units (AU) are recognized in the Central Arabia Qusaiba-Paleozoic TPS that are related to type of structural trap and presence of underlying Infracambrian salt: (1) the onshore Central Arch Horst-Block Anticlinal Oil and Gas AU, and (2) the mostly offshore North Gulf Salt Basin Structural Gas AU. The mean total volume of undiscovered resource for the Central Arabia Qusaiba-Paleozoic TPS is estimated at about 108 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BBOE).
Oil of the Arabian Sub-Basin Tuwaiq/Hanifa-Arab TPS is sourced by organic-rich, marine carbonates of the Jurassic Tuwaiq Mountain and Hanifa Formations. These source rocks were deposited in two of three intraplatform basins during the Jurassic and, where thermally mature, have generated a superfamily of oils with distinctive geochemical characteristics. Oils were generated and expelled from these source rocks beginning in the Cretaceous at about 75 Ma. Hydrocarbon production is from 3 cyclic carbonate-rock reservoirs of the Arab Formation that are sealed by overlying anhydrite. Several giant and supergiant fields, including the world's largest oil field at Ghawar, Saudi Arabia, produce mostly from the Arab carbonate-rock reservoirs. Two assessment units are also recognized in the Arabian Sub-Basin Tuwaiq/Hanifa-Arab TPS that are similarly related to structural trap style and presence of underlying Infracambrian salt: (1) an onshore Horst-Block Anticlinal Oil AU, and (2) a mostly offshore Salt-Involved Structural Oil AU. The mean total volume of undiscovered resource for the Arabian Sub-Basin Tuwaiq/Hanifa-Arab TPS is estimated at about 49 billion barrels of oil equivalent (42 billion barrels of oil, 34 trillion feet of gas, and 1.4 billion barrels of natural gas liquids).
Additional publication details
- Publication type:
- Publication Subtype:
- USGS Numbered Series
- Total petroleum systems of the Paleozoic and Jurassic, Greater Ghawar Uplift and adjoining provinces of central Saudi Arabia and northern Arabian-Persian Gulf
- Series title:
- Series number:
- Version 1.0
- Year Published:
- U.S. Geological Survey
- Publisher location:
- Reston, VA
- 100 p.
- Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
- Other Geospatial:
- Arabian-Persian Gulf
- Online Only (Y/N):
- Additional Online Files (Y/N):