The Volga-Ural petroleum province is, in general, coincident with the Volga-Ural regional high, a broad upwarp of the east-central part of the Russian (East European) Platform. The central part of the province is occupied by the Tatar arch, which contains the major share of the oilfields of the province. The Komi-Perm arch forms the northeastern part of the regional high, and the Zhigulevsko-Pugachev and Orenburg arches make up the southern part. These arches are separated from one another by elongate downwarps.
The platform cover overlies an Archean crystalline basement and consists of seven main sedimentation cycles. (1) Riphean (lower Bavly) continental sandstone, shale, and conglomerate beds, from 500 to 5,000 m thick, were deposited in aulacogens. (2) Vendian (upper Bavly) continental and marine shale and sandstone are up to 3,000 m thick. (3) Middle Devonian-Tournaisian transgressive deposits, which are sandstone, siltstone, and shale in the lower part and carbonates and abundant reefs in the upper part, range from 300 to 1,000 m in thickness. The upper carbonate part includes the Kamsko-Kinel trough system, which consists of narrow, interconnected, deepwater troughs. (4) The Visean-Namurian-Bashkirian cycle began with deposition of Visean clastic deposits, which draped over reefs of the previous cycle and filled in an erosional relief that had formed in some places on the sediments of the previous cycle. The Visean clastic deposits are overlain by marine carbonate beds. The cycle is from 50 to 800 m thick. (5) The lower Moscovian-Lower Permian cycle consists of 1,000 to 3,000 m of terrigenous clastic deposits and marine carbonate beds. (6) The upper Lower Permian-Upper Permian cycle reflects the maximum growth of the Ural Mountains and the associated Ural foredeep. Evaporite deposits were first laid down, followed by marine limestones and dolomites, which intertongue eastward with clastic sediments from the Ural Mountains. (7) Continental red beds of Triassic age and mixed continental and marine clastic beds of Jurassic and Cretaceous age were deposited on the western, southwestern, and northern margins of the Russian Platform; they are generally absent in the Volga-Ural province, however.
Approximately 600 oilfields and gasfields and 2,000 pools have been found in the Volga-Ural province. Nine productive sequences are recognized; these are, in general, the same as the sedimentation cycles, although some subdivisions have been added. The clastic section of Middle and early Late Devonian age contains the major recoverable oil accumulations, including the supergiant Romashkino field.
Cumulative production to 1980 is estimated at 30 to 35 billion barrels of oil equivalent, identified reserves at about 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent, and undiscovered resources at about 7 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Identified reserves of natural gas are estimated at 100 trillion cubic feet and undiscovered resources at 63 trillion cubic feet.