Paleozoic stratigraphy and hydrocarbon habitat of the Arabian plate

G. Konert*, A. M. Afifi, S. A. Al-Hajri, H. J. Droste

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

378 Scopus citations


The Paleozoic section became prospective during the early 1970s when the enormous gas reserves in the Permian Khuff reservoirs were delineated in the Gulf and Zagros regions, and oil was discovered in Oman. Since then, frontier exploration has targeted the Paleozoic System throughout the Middle East, driven by various economic considerations. The Paleozoic sequences were essentially deposited in continental to deep marine clastic environments at the Gondwana continental margin. Carbonates only became dominant in the Late Permian. The sediments were deposited in arid to glacial settings, reflecting the drift of the region from equatorial to high southern latitudes and back. Following late Precambrian rifting that formed salt basins in Oman and the Arabian Gulf region, the Cambrian-Devonian sequences were deposited on a peneplained continental platform. The entire region was affected by the Hercynian Orogeny, which climaxed during the Carboniferous. The orogeny manifested itself in a change in basin geometry, inversion tectonics, regional uplift and tectonism along the Zagros fault zone. This deformation caused widespread erosion of the Devonian-Carboniferous and older sections, and was probably caused by collision along the northern margin of Gondwana. The Paleozoic tectonic super cycle ended with the onset of break-up tectonics in the Permian, and the deposition of Khuff carbonates over the newly formed eastern passive margin. A major Paleozoic petroleum system embraces reservoir seal pairs spanning the Silurian to Permian sequences. Hydrocarbons occur in a variety of traps, and are sourced by the Silurian 'hot shale'. A second petroleum system occurs in areas charged from upper Precambrian source rocks in the salt basins. Hydrocarbon expulsion estimates, taking into account secondary migration losses, suggest that some one trillion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) may have been trapped from the Silurian 'hot shale' alone. However, the long and complex hydrocarbon geological evolution of the basin, combined with low acoustic contrasts between target rock units, difficult surface conditions, tight reservoirs, and deep subsurface environments, posed significant challenges to exploration and development. The critical success factor is the continuous innovative effort of earth scientists and subsurface engineers to find integrated technology solutions, that will render the Paleozoic plays economically viable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-442
Number of pages36
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology


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