The potential for major discoveries of oil and gas is high in the USSR, but remote in Mongolia. Development of the USSR’s potential is plagued by six factors: (1) remoteness of prospective basins from commercial markets, (2) lack of adequate infrastructure within prospective basins, (3) inadequate drilling technology for economic development below depths of 3,200-3,800 m (10,500-12,500 ft), (4) poor-quality indigenous equipment, (5) absence of offshore capabilities, not only in the warm Caspian and Black Seas, but also in the ice-plagued Arctic and Pacific Oceans, and (6) a chronic manpower shortage. Imports of foreign technology are alleviating the problems gradually, but they are far from solved.
European USSR.—The most important objectives of the future are: (1) Jurassic through Devonian in the Greater Barents basin and Svalbard platform, offshore Barents Sea, (2) deep Carboniferous-Ordovician of Timian-Pechora basin, (3) subthrust plays of western Urals, (4) pre-Kungurian salt section of the Pricaspian basin, (5) Devonian of the Dnepr-Donets graben, (6) Jurassic through Paleogene of the Black Sea shelf, (7) pre-Tertiary formations of the North Caucasus trough, and (8) deep Tertiary objectives near Baku in the central and southern Caspian Sea.
Asiatic USSR.—The most important targets are: (1) deep Mesozoic and Paleozoic (Carboniferous, Devonian, Silurian) carbonates of the Nyurol’ka, Frolovo, and other depressions in and below the West Siberian basin, including the Kara Sea, (2) late Paleozoic-Mesozoic of the Aral’ Sea, the Ustyurt depression, the Chu-Sarysu basin, and the Turgay and Syrdar’ya syneclises, most of them unexplored, (3) the pre-Upper Jurassic of the central Asian basins, (4) the deep Tertiary of the Cheleken district, (5) the subthrust and pre-Tithonian salt section of the South Tadzhik basin, (6) the Proterozoic-Silurian marine sequences of the Tunguska, Lena, and Sukhana basins, and of the Nepa-Botuoba arch, (7) the Carboniferous-Lower Jurassic of the Vilyuy, Lena-Anabar, Khatanga, and Yenisey basins, with the associated subthrust plays of the Taymyr and Verkhoyansk ranges, and (8) the numerous late Paleozoic-Mesozoic offshore basins of the Arctic shelf plus the Tertiary basins of the Pacific, especially the Severny basin.
Mongolia.—Principal objectives are Jurassic and Cretaceous fluviatile and lacustrine sandstones in southeastern Mongolia, especially in the East Gobi basin and in the Hailar basin, which is shared with China. Similar basins in China have giant fields, such as Karamay in the Junggar basin and Daqing in the Songliao basin.
Resources.—Through 1983, the USSR had produced about 75 billion bbl of oil and condensate and 217 tcf of gas. Estimated proved plus probable liquids was 35-36 billion bbl and, of gas, about 800 tcf. Resource potential, above and beyond proved plus probable, is estimated at about 90 billion bbl and 1,000 tcf (these numbers will increase as offshore icepack technology is improved). In contrast, Mongolia’s produced and proved oil is less than 2 million bbl, but the resource potential could be large.