The Caucasus petroleum province can be considered as encompassing the region from Crimea and the Sea of Azov in the west to the South Caspian in the east. The region has extremely large proven hydrocarbon reserves (approximately 30 billion bbl oil equivalent), and speculation in the industry is that there is perhaps as much again yet to find. Outcrop-based studies of potential reservoirs and source rock intervals helps to constrain the uncertainty over the future potential of the region and can help reduce risk and increase exploration success rates.
The Caucasus region has undergone a complex tectonic history of back-arc rifting, subsidence, compression, and inversion, which has interacted with sediment supply to lead to the deposition of uncommonly thick Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary succession. This interaction between sediment supply and basin subsidence is the primary control of the development of the Caucasus petroleum system.
Following the collision of Africa and Eurasia, the Caucasus Mountains began developing during the Eocene. By the Oligocene–Miocene, a foreland basin had developed, which was initially starved of sediment and had a stratified water column, leading to the preservation of organic matter. This was the time of the deposition of the Maikop Suite, and the presence of this source rock across the Caucasus petroleum province is the key reason for the existence of its hydrocarbon reserves. Outcrop-based studies indicate that although other source rocks may exist, these are of relatively minor importance, and it is the Maikop Suite that is the key source rock and can be geochemically correlated with oils from fields in the province. Major reservoirs are therefore typically stratigraphically above the Maikop Suite source or thrown up by faulting to be onmigration routes from Maikop source kitchens.
Figures & Tables
Throughout time, the greater Caspian area has maintained its position as one of the major petroleum provinces in the world. Its early history as a prolific producer of oil is well known. Caspian region exploration dates to the seventh century B.C., during the time of the Median Kingdom in today's southern Azerbaijan. Oil played an important role in the everyday lives of these ancient tribes of the region, and it is still a very important commodity today. The past two decades have seen many important advances in our knowledge of the geological evolution of hydrocarbon-bearing sedimentary basins. The success of modern exploration is, to a large extent, based on new advances in both deep and 3-D seismic imaging, as well as improved pressure-prediction and pre-drill oil and gas quality predictive methodologies, to mention just a few. Nevertheless, large areas of the greater Caspian region have remained unexplored due to a variety of factors such as deep-water conditions and zones with high pore-pressures in the South Caspian Sea and The Black Sea, and vast shallow-water regions with harsh winter ice conditions in the North Caspian Sea. This publication contains 12 extended abstracts and 6 full-length papers that discuss technology development, challenges in estimating proven and potential reserves, outcrop-based studies of potential reservoirs, regional tectonics and geodynamic evolution, and source rock and stratigraphic analyses of the greater Caspian area.