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 oil fields of the province. The Perm-Bashkir arch forms the northeastern part of the regional high, and the Zhigulevsko-Orenburg arch makes 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 as follows: 1) Riphean (lower Bavly) continental sandstone, shale, and conglomerate beds from 500 to 5,000 m thick deposited in aulacogens. 2) Vendian (upper Bavly) continental and marine shale and sandstone up to 3,000 m thick. 3) Middle Devonian-Tournaisian transgressive deposits, which are sandstone, siltstone, and shale in the lower part and carbonates with abundant reefs in the upper; thickness is 300-1,000 m. In the upper carbonate part is the Kamsko-Kinel trough system, which consists of narrow interconnected deep-water troughs. 4) The Visean-Namurian-Bashkirian cycle, which began with deposition of Visean clastics that 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 clastics are overlain by marine carbonates. Thickness of the cycle is 50-800 m. 5) Early Moscovian-Early Permian terrigenous clastic deposits and marine carbonate beds 1,000-3,000 m thick. 6) The late Early Permian-Late Permian cycle, which reflects maximum growth of the Ural Mountains and associated Ural foredeep. Evaporites were first deposited, then marine limestones and dolomites, which intertongue eastward with clastic sediments from the Ural Mountains. 7) Continental redbeds of Triassic age and mixed continental and marine elastic beds of Jurassic and Cretaceous age, which were deposited on the southern, southwestern, and northern margins of the Russian platform; they are generally absent in the Volga-Ural province, however.
The Volga-Ural oil and gas basin is a single artesian system that contains seven aquifers separated by seals. The areas of greatest hydraulic head are in the eastern parts of the basin near areas where the aquifers crop out on the western slopes of the Ural Mountains. The Peri-Caspian basin is the principal drainage area of the artesian system.
Approximately 600 oil and gas fields and 2,000 pools have been found in the Volga-Ural province. Nine productive sequences are recognized as follows: 1) Upper Proterozoic (Bavly beds), which are promising but not yet commercial. 2) Clastic Devonian, which contains the major reserves and includes the main pays of the super-giant Romashkino field. 3) Carbonate Upper Devonian and lowermost Carboniferous, which is one of the main reef-bearing intervals. 4) Visean (Lower Carboniferous) elastics, which are the main pays in the super-giant Arian field. 5) Carbonate Lower and Middle Carboniferous. 6) Clastic Middle Carboniferous Moscovian. 7) Carbonate Middle and Upper Carboniferous. 8) Carbonate-evaporite Lower Permian, which contains the major gas reserves and the lower part of the Melekess tar deposits. 9) Clastic-carbonate Upper Permian, which contains the major part of the Melekess tar deposits.
The Volga-Ural province is divided into several productive regions on a basis of differences in structure, distribution of reservoir and source-rock facies, and general composition of the petroleum accumulations. These regions are the Tatar arch, Birsk saddle, Upper Kama depression, Perm-Bashkir arch, Ufa-Orenburg monocline, Melekess-Sernovodsko-Abdulino basin, Zhligulevsko-Orenburg arch, Ural foredeep, and north borders of the Peri-Casplan depression.
Exploration activity has declined in recent years; however, interest remains high in several parts of the province, particula
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geology of the Volga-Ural petroleum province and detailed description of the Ramashkino and Arlan oil fields