The Tengiz Oil Field in the Pre-Caspian Basin of Kazakhstan (Former USSR)-Supergiant of the 1980s
Nicolai N. Lisovsky, Georgii N. Gogonenkov, Yuri A. Petzoukha, 1992. "The Tengiz Oil Field in the Pre-Caspian Basin of Kazakhstan (Former USSR)-Supergiant of the 1980s", Giant Oil and Gas Fields of the Decade 1978-1988, Michel T. Halbouty
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Oil and gas explorationists have amassed more than a century of experience, and their efforts have led to the discovery of tens of thousands of fields in oil and gas basins throughout the world. However, the number of giants and supergiants among these fields has been extremely small.
The discovery of a supergiant is always a noteworthy event in petroleum geology. It provides a strong impetus not only to the development of the oil-producing district, but also to the economic development of the region and the country.
The Soviet Union is a major producer of hydrocarbons and for many decades has been conducting intensive oil and gas prospecting and exploration. The geographic focus of exploration and the concentration of production have changed significantly over this period (Figure 1). For instance, up until World War II, the Caucasus, chiefly the region around Baku, was the primary producing region. Then several fields, among them the Romashkino supergiant, were discovered in the area between the Volga River and the Urals.
Thanks to advances in exploration, the production level in the Volga-Urals oil and gas province rose to 1.7 billion bbl (240 million MT) per year. The next major advance in the establishment of hydrocarbon reserves occurred after the discovery of the very large oil and gas province in western Siberia, where numerous fields were identified, among them the Samotlor oil supergiant and the Urengoi gas supergiant. With this discovery, annual output in the Soviet Union rose to 4.2 billion bbl (600 million MT) of petroleum and 28 tcf (800 billion m3) of gas.
The pre-Caspian depression long ago attracted the attention of petroleum geologists. Early exploration was conducted here for relatively shallow reservoirs within reach of what was then state-of-the-art technology. The improvement of the technical level of exploration—above all, the conversion to multiple-fold coverage and digital processing of seismic data—and the drilling of wells to depths of 5 to 6 km made it possible to explore the lower portion of the sedimentary section and to identify several very large gas and condensate fields (Astrakhan, Orenburg, Karachaganak, and others) along the margin of the basin.
Figures & Tables
The success of Memoir 14 and the worldwide interest shown for data on giant fields prompted AAPG to schedule a symposium on giant fields at the end of each subsequent decade. The 1968-78 symposium was held in Houston, Texas, April 1-4, 1979, and the papers were published in AAPG Memoir 30, December 1980.
The Stavanger Conference "Giant Oil and Gas Fields of the Decade: 1978-1988" was held in Stavanger, Norway, September 9-12, 1990, and is a continuation of the Giants of the Decade series.
Scientific studies and projections of future world energy demand indicate that although alternative-energy fuel sources must be actively pursued and developed, there also must be adequate petroleum supplies to bridge the gap. For the international petroleum industry, the years covered by this conference, 1978-88, were complex. They were years of boom and bust. The world's energy consciousness was boosted sharply by the effects of the 1979 Iranian revolution and the resulting embargo, which sent world oil prices to record heights. Global petroleum exploration soon surged, leading to the industry's all-time drilling high in 1981. Then came the oil price collapse in 1985, and the following years were characterized by falling oil prices and drastic budget cuts for exploration and development.
Although exploration dropped sharply during the latter part of the decade, there was a steady flow of giant oil and gas field discoveries. Using the giant field designation criteria of 500 million bbl of oil recoverable for fields in Asiatic Russia, North Africa, and the Middle East,