ABSTRACT

Hydrocarbons have recently been discovered in Upper Triassic to Middle Jurassic siliciclastic reservoirs in the Rub' Al-Khali basin in Saudi Arabia. The reservoirs fill accommodation space created by Triassic and early Jurassic crustal-scale basins on the order of 100 km (62 mi) in wavelength and hundreds of meters in depth. These basins are separated by highs that are interpreted as crustal-scale epeirogenic folds. Lithologies include well-sorted quartz arenites deposited in shallow-marine, shoreface, and fluviodeltaic settings. These sequences can be correlated across the basin to extensive escarpment outcrops south of Riyadh and beyond Saudi Arabia into well-documented equivalents elsewhere in the Middle East and East Africa. The gross architecture of the interval is imaged on reflection seismic, showing clinoformal geometries and onlap onto the Triassic structured surface. Geochemistry of tested fluids indicates a type III kerogen source. The simplest interpretation is that the system is self-sourcing hydrocarbons from interbedded coaly material that is observed in the wells and at outcrop. Reservoir pressures are anomalously low relative to the overlying carbonate reservoir systems. These low pressures are interpreted to indicate lateral communication from the Rub' Al-Khali basin westward to outcrop, in contrast with the overlying carbonate fairways that are known to contain facies boundaries that trend across the regional dip. Onlapping geometries in the siliciclastic fairway combine with Cretaceous and Cenozoic compressional structures to create combined structural-stratigraphic traps.

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