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Abstract: Hydrogeological Influences on Petroleum Accumulations in the Arabian Gulf

J. Vizgirda, L. Burke

The stratigraphic and topographic conditions in the Arabian Gulf are appropriate for the instigation and maintenance of an active hydrodynamic regime. The setting is that of a gentle basin surrounded by topographic highs. The central Arabian highlands to the west-southwest, the Tarus-Zagros mountains to the north, and the Oman mountains to the east rim the structural low occupied by the Gulf. Elevations in these areas reach maximum values of approximately 1000 meters. Paleozoic through Cenozoic strata stretch continuously across the basin, are relatively unfaulted, and outcrop in the topographic highs. Such a setting is propitious for a regional hydrodynamic system with meteoric recharge in the topographic highs and discharge in the middle of the Gulf. The prolific oil and gas accumulations of this region would be subject to influence by these hydrodynamic processes.

The existence of such a hydrodynamic regime is documented by a variety of evidence, including potentiometric data, water salinity measurements, and observed tilts in oil-water contacts. Potentiometric data for several Tertiary and Cretaceous units on the Arabian platform, in the Gulf, and in Iraq show a pattern of consistently decreasing potential from topographic highs to lows. Water salinities show a consistent, but inverse, variation with the potentiometric data. Tilted oil-water contacts in Cretaceous and Jurassic reservoirs are observed in several fields of the Gulf region. The direction and magnitude of the observed tilts are consistent with the water potential and salinity data, and suggest that petroleum accumulations are being influenced by a regional hydrodynamic drive.

Basin modelling is used to simulate petroleum generation and migration scenarios, and to integrate these histories with the structural evolution of the Gulf. The integrated modelling study illustrates the influence of hydrodynamic processes on the distribution of petroleum accumulations.

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