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BLTN06054

BLTN06054

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AUTHORS
S. N. Ehrenberg
Statoil,N-4035Stavanger, Norway; sne@statoil.com
Steve has a Ph.D. from the University of Cali-fornia at Los Angeles. He works on sandstoneand carbonate reservoir studies for explorationand production projects.
P. H. Nadeau
Statoil, N-4035 Stavanger, Norway; phn@statoil.com
Joining Statoil in 1986, Paul now serves as aspecialist in global exploration working on basinevaluation and petroleum systems analysis.Originating from Maine, Paul received a B.S.degree from Boston College and a Ph.D. fromDartmouth College. He received the Schlum-berger Medal from the Mineralogical Society and the Brindley Award from the Clay MineralsSociety.
A.A.M.Aqrawi
Statoil,N-4035Stavanger, Norway; present address: Statoil ArabianGulf, Samarqand Street, Hai Al-Ssalam, Al- Rabia, Amman, Jordan; aamaq@statoil.com
 Adnan works as a business development man-ager for international exploration and pro-duction. He has more than 25 years of inter-national geological experience in the MiddleEast, southeast Asia, and northwest Europe, with various geological research institutes andoil companies. He has published many articlesand has recently completed a book, together with J. Goff, A. Horbury, and F. Sadooni, onthe petroleum geology of Iraq. Adnan receivedhis B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the Uni- versity of Baghdad and his Ph.D. and D.I.C.from Imperial College, London. He is a mem-ber of the AAPG, the International Associa-tion of Sedimentologists, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the Iraqi Geological So-ciety, and the Norwegian Petroleum Society.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
 We thank David E. Eby, Stephen E. Laubach,and Bradford E. Prather for helpful reviews.
 A comparison of Khuff and  Arab reservoir potential throughout the Middle East 
S. N. Ehrenberg, P. H. Nadeau, and A. A. M. Aqrawi
ABSTRACT
A compilation of average porosity and permeability data for petro-leum reservoirs in the Permian–Triassic Khuff Formation and theJurassic Arab Formation shows that most Khuff reservoirs have anaverage porosity of less than 12%, whereas most Arab reservoirshave an average porosity of 12–26%. Higher porosity correlateswith shallower depth, suggesting that burial diagenesis is the maincauseoftheoverallporositydifferencebetweentheseunits.Deeperburial of Khuff reservoirs is inferred to have resulted in greaterporosity loss by chemical compaction and associated cementation.A broad correlation also exists between average porosity and aver-age permeability, suggesting that deeper burial and the resultingporosity decrease are also a primary cause of the lower permeabil-ities of the Khuff reservoirs. In addition to greater burial depth,however, a combination ofdepositionaland early diagenetic factorsis also reflected in the lower average porosity and permeabilityvalues of the Khuff reservoirs. Khuff strata were deposited on anextensive,poorlycirculated,verylow-reliefshelfandconsistinlargepartofinterbeddedmudstonesandgrainstoneshavingrelativelyfinegrainsize,withmajoramounts ofdepositionalcalciumsulfate pres-ent. Arab reservoirs were deposited under better circulated condi-tions near platform margins facing deep, intracratonic basins and,thus, have coarser, more grain-dominated fabrics and lesser overallcontent of chemically precipitated grains, calcium sulfate, and do-lomite. Khuff deposits were likely composed of less stable miner-alogy than Arab sediments because the Late Permian was a time of aragonite seas, whereas the Late Jurassic was a time of calcite seas.ThecombinedresultofthesefactorsisthatArabreservoirsarecharac-terized by greater preservation of primary depositional pore types,more coarsely crystalline dolomite fabrics, and lesser plugging by an-hydrite. Finally, a possible factor affecting the average porosity and
E&P NOTES
AAPG Bulletin, v. 91, no. 3 (March 2007), pp. 275–286
275
Copyright
#
2007. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.Manuscript received May 21, 2006; provisional acceptance July 6, 2006; revised manuscript receivedSeptember 5, 2006; final acceptance September 14, 2006.DOI:10.1306/09140606054
 
permeabilityvaluesispetroleumcomposition,whichisgas in most Khuff reservoirs and oil in Arab reservoirs.Lowereconomiccutoffvaluesforgasproductionwouldfavor inclusion of low-permeability zones in Khuff res-ervoirs, thus reducing average reservoir values.Two main aspects of these results are innovative.This is the first time that porosity and permeabilityvalues for either Khuff or Arab reservoirs have beenexamined regionally. Second, the conclusion that ther-malexposure is the primary control on average poros-ity and permeability in these units is consistent withprevious work from other carbonates, but is new forthe Middle East.
INTRODUCTION
Carbonate reservoirs from producing oil and gas fieldshaveextremerangesofporosityandpermeability,bothlocally within a single reservoir zone and in terms of average values for entire reservoir zones (EhrenbergandNadeau,2005).Thisstudydescribesthelattertypeof variation for two major reservoir formations in theMiddle East and lists the factors that seem likely toaccount for the striking overall differences betweenthese units. The units compared are the Khuff Forma-tion (Upper Permian–Lower Triassic) and the ArabFormation (Upper Jurassic). Both units are major pe-troleum reservoirs in the Arabian/Persian Gulf region,with the Khuff having almost exclusively gas produc-tion and the Arab producing mainly oil (Alsharhan andNairn, 1997). The differences in reservoir quality andgeologybetweentheseunitsarealreadywellknown,buthavenotpreviouslybeen considered systematically in aregionalperspectiveorinanycomparisoninvolvingbothformations. We hope that our results will be useful as acontext for discussing and comparing data from indi-vidual fields, as well as for revealing overall trends andperhapstherebyindicatinggeneralcontrollingprocesses.Therationaleforthecomparisonofthesetwoquitedissimilar reservoir formations consists, first, of theirenormous economic significance and, second, of theirstratigraphicsituation.TheKhuffFormationhousestheworld’s largest gas accumulation: the combined Northfield(Qatar)andSouthPars(Iran)dome,withapprox-imately 1500 tcf of recoverable reserves (Statoil in-house data; 1250 tcf listed in Halbouty, 2003). TheArab Formation isthereservoirfortheworld’slargestoil accumulation: the Ghawar field (Saudi Arabia),with approximately 120 billion bbl of recoverablereserves (Statoil in-house data; >80 billion bbl listedin Halbouty, 2003). Other Khuff and Arab fields alsocontain enormous reserves (Alsharhan and Nairn,1997). Any information contributing to a betterunderstanding of these important resources shouldtherefore be examined with care. The second rationalebehind the Khuff and Arab comparison is the strati-graphic position of these units as the two mainpetroleum-bearing layers underlying the Cretaceousstrata of the Middle East. Whenever drilling is plannedto penetrate below the Cretaceous, therefore, both theArab and the Khuff must commonly be considered aspotential targets because both units are productivefromthe samestructures in numerous cases (Figure 1).
STRATIGRAPHIC CONTEXT
TheKhuffandArabformationsarestratigraphicentitiesofquitedissimilarscale.TheKhuffFormationisthreetofive times thicker and represents four to seven timesgreaterdurationthantheArabFormation.Absoluteagesquoted here refer to the time scale of Gradstein et al.(2004). Khuff deposition occupied roughly 17 m.y.andencompassed 5 (Sharland et al., 2001), 7 (Strohmengeret al., 2002), or 11 (Osterloff et al., 2004) depositionalsequences of perhaps 0.5–5 m.y. duration, whereasArab deposition occupied about 2.1 m.y. and encom-passed four depositional sequences averaging approxi-mately 0.5 m.y. duration (Sharland et al., 2001).The Khuff Formation of Arabia is equivalent withtheDalan(Permian)andKangan(Triassic)formationsinIran (Szabo and Kheradpir, 1978); the Chia Zairi For-mation (Permian–Triassic) in Iraq (Aqrawi, 1998); andtheBih,Hagil(Permian),andlowerGhail(Triassic)for-mationsinoutcropsoftheMusandamareaoftheeasternUnitedArabEmiratesandnorthernOman(Strohmengeretal.,2002).TheKhuffFormationrepresentsanepeiriccarbonate platform that developed above siliciclasticsoftheUnayzahFormationanditsequivalents(Faraghanin Iran; Ga’ara in Iraq; Al Khlata in Oman), followingmiddleCarboniferous(Hercynian)orogenyandmiddlePermian rifting (Sharland et al., 2001; Osterloff et al.,2004).Khuffthicknessincreasesfromnearzero,wheresiliciclastic facies pinch out in central Saudi Arabia, tosomewhatmore than 400 m (1300 ft) in Ghawarfield,eastern Saudi Arabia; to 800 m (2600 ft) in the Northfield, Qatar; to nearly 1000 m (3300 ft) in the easternUnitedArabEmirates(Al-Jallal,1994,1995).Accordingto Sharland et al. (2001), the basal Khuff transgres-sion is dated as middle–late Wordian (roughly 267–266Ma)inOman,butislikelytobesome5m.y.younger
276
E&P Notes
 
in Saudi Arabia. Khuff deposition terminated in thelateInduan(approximately250Ma)withprogradationof fine siliciclastics of the overlying Sudair Formation.ImportantinternalmarkersaretheNaranhydrite(endCapitanian;260.4Ma)andthePermian–Triassicbound-ary (251.0 Ma).TheArabFormationconsistsoffourregionallycorrel-ative cycles of carbonate capped by evaporite, termed D,C, B, and A in ascending order. The formation rangesin thickness from 128–150 m (419–492 ft) in SaudiArabiato180–285m(590–935ft)intheUnitedArabEmirates (Alsharhan and Nairn, 1997). According toSharland et al. (2001), the maximum flooding surfaceof the Arab D, near the base of the formation, is datedas middle Kimmeridgian (roughly 152.9 Ma), and themaximumfloodingsurfaceoftheArabAcoincideswiththe KimmeridgianTithonian boundary (150.8 Ma).
DATA
The data examined in this article are average values fortheproducingzonesofoilandgasfields,thegeographicdistribution of which is shown in Figure 1. These dataare a component of Statoil’s global reservoir database,results fromwhich have been reported inBjørkum andNadeau (1998), Ehrenberg and Nadeau (2005), andNadeau et al. (2005). Numerous gaps exist in thesedata,suchasreservoirsrepresentedbyporositybutnotpermeability values. The nature of the original mea-surements upon which the average values are based isunknown, but derivation from a combination of core-plug data and log interpretation seems likely. The per-meabilityvalueswillthereforenotreflectthecontribu-tion of fractures, which are known to be important inbothKhuff(LoutfiandAbulHamd,1989;Bashari,2005)
Figure 1.
Locations of petroleum fields for whichaverage values are avail-able for Khuff and Arabreservoir parameters.
Ehrenberg et al.
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