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Abstract: The Oil and Gas Potential of the South Caspian Sea

Khosbakht B. Jusufzade

For 150 years, the oil fountains of Baku have fueled the imaginations of oilmen around the world. The phrase "another Baku" often has been used to describe major new discoveries. The production of oil and gas from onshore Azerbaijan and from the shallower waters of the Caspian Sea offers tantalizing evidence for the hydrocarbon yet to be discovered. Today, the Azeri, Guneshli, and Chirag oil fields, with over four billion barrels of recoverable reserves, have refocused the attention of the petroleum industry on Baku.

The rapid subsidence of the South Caspian basin and accumulation of over 20 kilometers of Late Mesozoic and Cenozoic sediments have resulted in that rare combination of conditions ideal for the generation and entrapment of numerous giant oil and gas accumulations. Working with existing geological, geophysical, and geochemical data, SOCAR geologists, geophysicists, and geochemists have identified numerous structural and stratigraphic prospects which have yet to be tested by drilling.

In the South Caspian basin, undrilled prospects remain in relatively shallow water, 200-300 meters. As these shallow-water prospects are exhausted, exploration will shift farther offshore into deeper water, 300-1000 meters. The deepwater region of the South Caspian is unquestionably prospective. Exploration and development of oil and gas fields in water depths in excess of 300 meters will require the joint efforts of international companies and the Azerbaijan petroleum enterprises. In the near future, water depth and drilling depth will not be limiting factors in the exploration of the Caspian Sea. Much work remains to be done; and much oil and gas remain to be found.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90956©1995 AAPG International Convention and Exposition Meeting, Nice, France