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Middle East Models of Jurassic/Cretaceous Carbonate Systems

SEPM Special Publication No. 69, Copyright ©2000 SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), ISBN 1-56576-075-1, p.335–358.

Abstract

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is located on the eastern Arabian shelf, bounded on the northwest by the Qatar-South Fars Arch and on the east and northeast by the foreland basin and the adjacent foreland fold-and-thrust belt of Oman. Two passive-plate-margin basins were developed in the area, the northern Rub Al Khali basin and the Ras Al Khaimah basin. Since the Permian, a variety of sub-basins, separated by depositional and tectonic highs, have formed, filled, and been buried, but the style of sedimentation has been maintained. The Upper Permian to Holocene rocks and sediments of the U.A.E. consist mainly of epeiric shelf carbonates, associated with minor evaporites and clastics, reflecting major cycles of transgression and regression. These sediments were deposited on the eastern margin of the Arabian Shield, which lay along the southern margin of the Tethys Ocean during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. Sedimentation patterns were controlled by prominent regional structural features, epeirogenic movements, and/or sea-level fluctuations. Abundant oil and gas reserves have been proved in the Mesozoic rocks of the U.A.E., and are contained in the shallow-water carbonates of the Jurassic (Araej and Arab formations) and the Cretaceous (Thamama Group, Mishrif, and Simsima formations). Reservoirs are sourced by deep-water bituminous shale and argillaceous limestones and sealed by evaporites, dense limestones, and shales. The distinctive sedimentologie and structural style, together with the development of source-reservoir-seal, has made the U.A.E. one of the world’s richest Mesozoic oil habitats. Detailed studies of the occurrences and distributions of the factors controlling hydrocarbon distribution are important in the understanding of local oil fields and future plays.

Introduction

The U.A.E. is located in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula between latitudes 22° 40’ N and 26° 00’ N and longitudes 51° 00’ E and 56° 00’ E (Fig. 1). In terms of tectonic framework, the U.A.E. is situated within the interior platform of the Arabian shelf, bounded on the northwest by the Qatar-South Fars Arch and on the east and northwest by the foreland basin and adjacent foreland fold-and-thrust belt of Oman. Modern sediments of the Arabian Gulf foreland basin are like the sediments that have accumulated here in the subsurface. Since the Permian, a variety of sub-basins, separated by depositional and tectonic highs, have formed, filled, and been buried, but the overall style of sedimentation has been maintained throughout.

Fig. 1.

Location map of the Arabian Peninsula showing the main tectonic elements (modified from Powers et al., 1966, and Alsharhan and Nairn, 1986; Alsharhan and Kendall, 1986.

Fig. 1.

Location map of the Arabian Peninsula showing the main tectonic elements (modified from Powers et al., 1966, and Alsharhan and Nairn, 1986; Alsharhan and Kendall, 1986.

These Upper Permian to Holocene rocks and sediments of the U.A.E. consist mainly of epeiric shelf carbonates, associated with minor evaporites and elastics, reflecting major cycles of transgression and regression. They were deposited on the eastern margin of the Arabian Shield, which lay along the southern margin of the Tethys Ocean during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. Sedimentation patterns were controlled by prominent regional structural features and relatively gentle tectonic subsidence punctuated by eustatic variations in sea level. The resulting facies variations are used to subdivide the strati-graphic section of the U.A.E. into formations (Fig. 2) (Alsharhan, 1989; Alsharhan and Nairn, 1986, 1988; Alsharhan and Kendall, 1991; Kendall et al., 1991a). Indeed, it is possible to correlate most major unconformities with coastal onlap events of Haq et al. (1988), though local tectonic events mask some of the large cycle breaks (Alsharhan and Kendall, 1991; Kendall et al., 1991a). The objective of this paper is to provide a geological background to the sedimentary facies and settings, stratigraphie framework, and structural evolution that controlled the source, migration, and accumulation of hydrocarbons in the U.A.E. (Table 1).

Fig. 2.

Lithostratigraphy of the Mesozoic section in the United Arab Emirates.

Fig. 2.

Lithostratigraphy of the Mesozoic section in the United Arab Emirates.

Table 1.

Depositional settings of Arabian platform and their distinguishing characteristics in the United Arab Emirates.

NameArabian carbonate shelf
Present LocationFrom 22° to 28° north latitude and 51 ° to 57° west longitude
Geologic time intervalEarly Triassic-Late Cretaceous, (Scythian-Maastrichtian)
Tectono-sedlmentary settingPassive margin changing to back arc basin
Basin typeEpeiric shelf changing to foreland basin
PaleoclimateGenerally tropical (ranged from arid, semiarid to humid)
Platform typeRimmed, epeiric shelf changing to distally steepened ramp, shoainrudist complex and high-energy shoal rimming an intrashelf basins, high-energy shelf deposited as carbonate sand sheets
Platform geometryWide to moderately wide, at least 1700 m thick; more than 300 km wide and more than 700 km long
CirculationOpen to partially restricted
Facies and fossilsFine to coarse-grained carbonates (ooliticπpeloidainskeletal sand), thin intervals of shale and sandstone; pelagic and benthic foraminifera, algae, mollusks, sponges, echinoderms, and corals
System tractsTransgressive and progradational highstand
Stacking patternsBuildups, carbonate sand sheets, and nearshore cycles
Main Reservoirs (Formation/Age)Simsima (Maastrichtian), Mishrif (Cenomanian), Shuaiba (Aptian), Kharaib (Barremian), Lekhwair (Hauterivian), Arab (TithonianllKimmeridgian), Araej (BathoniannCallovian)
Main Source Rocks (Formation/Age)Diyab Formation (Oxfordian), Shilaif Formation (Cenomanian)
Main Seal Rocks (Formation/Age)Hith anhydrite (Tithonian), Nahr Umr shale (Albian), Laffan shale (Coniacian), basal Umm Er Radhuma shale (Paleocene)
NameArabian carbonate shelf
Present LocationFrom 22° to 28° north latitude and 51 ° to 57° west longitude
Geologic time intervalEarly Triassic-Late Cretaceous, (Scythian-Maastrichtian)
Tectono-sedlmentary settingPassive margin changing to back arc basin
Basin typeEpeiric shelf changing to foreland basin
PaleoclimateGenerally tropical (ranged from arid, semiarid to humid)
Platform typeRimmed, epeiric shelf changing to distally steepened ramp, shoainrudist complex and high-energy shoal rimming an intrashelf basins, high-energy shelf deposited as carbonate sand sheets
Platform geometryWide to moderately wide, at least 1700 m thick; more than 300 km wide and more than 700 km long
CirculationOpen to partially restricted
Facies and fossilsFine to coarse-grained carbonates (ooliticπpeloidainskeletal sand), thin intervals of shale and sandstone; pelagic and benthic foraminifera, algae, mollusks, sponges, echinoderms, and corals
System tractsTransgressive and progradational highstand
Stacking patternsBuildups, carbonate sand sheets, and nearshore cycles
Main Reservoirs (Formation/Age)Simsima (Maastrichtian), Mishrif (Cenomanian), Shuaiba (Aptian), Kharaib (Barremian), Lekhwair (Hauterivian), Arab (TithonianllKimmeridgian), Araej (BathoniannCallovian)
Main Source Rocks (Formation/Age)Diyab Formation (Oxfordian), Shilaif Formation (Cenomanian)
Main Seal Rocks (Formation/Age)Hith anhydrite (Tithonian), Nahr Umr shale (Albian), Laffan shale (Coniacian), basal Umm Er Radhuma shale (Paleocene)

Tectonic Setting

Tectonic History

The tectonic history of the U.A.E. in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras is connected with the Permian opening (Metour et al., 1995) and Late Cretaceous-Paleogene closure of the southern Neo-Tethys ocean. Glennie (this volume) divides the NeoTethys into Neo-Tethys-1, which was created in Late Permian by the halving of a microcontinent along the northeast margin of Arabia, and Neo-Tethys-2, which occurred in the Late Triassic and is more recognizable in Iran than in Oman and northeastern U.A.E. Subduction probably began in Neo-Tethys-2 during the Aptian-Albian opening of the South Atlantic. Thus, from Permian to about middle Cretaceous time, the northern part of the U.A.E. was a tectonically passive carbonate shelf. Deposition continued into the Early Turonian in Oman, where diagnostic ammonites date the uppermost part of the Natih Formation (Kennedy and Simmons, 1991). Throughout the rest of the Turonian, regional uplift and the onset of folding of the Oman Mountains occurred in the U.A.E. (Patton and O’Connor, 1988; Robertson and Searle, 1990). This major compressional tectonic event continued until the Maastrichtian, when the plates associated with central Iran and the Arabian Peninsula collided. The result was the rapid emplacement of ocean-floor sediments onto the eastern edge of the Arabian craton, while the adjacent Omani foredeep was filled with argillaceous limestone, chert, and shales. These events increased the amount of clastic sediments that accumulated in the northern U.A.E. area, particularly from the east, though carbonate and evaporite deposition still continued, particularly to the west. During the early Tertiary in the northern Oman Mountains of the U.A.E., the edge of the carbonate platform sequences was thrust over the foredeep. Further thrusting was then probably reinitiated in the latest Miocene-Pliocene. In the middle Tertiary to the late Tertiary, doming and differential uplift occurred in northern U.A.E. over the central foredeep area (Patton and O’Connor, 1988). Broadly, there are two main tectonic provinces in the U.A.E.: (1) a passive continental margin covering Abu Dhabi and part of onshore Dubai, and (2) an eastern thrust belt and associated foreland in onshore and offshore areas of northern U.A.E. These are known as the northern Rub Al Khali basin and the Ras Al Khaimah Basin, respectively (Alsharhan, 1989).

Structure

The passive-continental-margin province is characterized by gentle, simple folds of varying shapes and sizes related to differential regional subsidence or uplift along the deep-seated basement faults or to diapiric movement of Eocambrian salt. The foreland basin is characterized by tensional block-faulted structures, which were related to crustal extension that developed during the Cenomanian-Turonian. Their trends coincide with the hinge line that defines the western margin of the foreland basin described by Alsharhan and Nairn (1997). Large, low-amplitude folds are common in U.A.E., with flank dips of less than 5°. The main fold axes trend N-S with lesser ones that trend NW-SE, NE-SW, or E-W, depending on location (Fig. 3). In western Abu Dhabi, N-S folds are the most common and have been related to deep-seated basement tectonics. They are probably tied to the structural fabric of the underlying Precambrian basement and the superimposed Hercynian folding event, and are similar to the structure of some fields in Eastern Arabia described by Powers et al. (1966) and Murris (1980). Southeast of Abu Dhabi, east of the Falaha syncline, the fold axes trend NE-SW at the Shah, Asab, and Sahil fields. The northeast-southwest trend appears to be related to the late Tertiary overthrusting that occurred in Oman when the Zagros Mountains were folded. In the northeast Abu Dhabi, towards the Jarn Yaphour Field, the trend is NW-SE (Schlumberger, 1981; Alsharhan, 1989). In the central offshore Abu Dhabi, the Ε-W aligned folds of the Zakum and Ghasha fields formed when the Zagros Mountain fold system developed. They are superimposed on the older N-S trending “Arabian folds” of Schlumberger (1981). Salt diapirism has further modified the structures. Indeed, prominent structural anomalies are related to the periods of upward movement of Eocambrian salt deposits, responding in part to readjustments in the configuration of the basement complex. This movement occurred throughout the history of the basin but was particularly common in the Tertiary. Salt diapirs underlie most of the structural highs in Abu Dhabi and offshore Dubai.

Fig. 3.

Major anticlines and synclines associated with oil and gas fields in the United Arab Emirates (after Alsharhan, 1989; Alsharhan and Nairn, 1997).

Fig. 3.

Major anticlines and synclines associated with oil and gas fields in the United Arab Emirates (after Alsharhan, 1989; Alsharhan and Nairn, 1997).

Triassic Stratigraphy and Depositional Setting

In the U. A.E. subsurface, the Triassic to lower Lower Jurassic rocks can be divided into four formations (from bottom to top): Sudair, Gulailah, Hamlah, and Minjur (Fig. 2). The Sudair Formation (Scythian) comprises mixed carbonate and terrigenous limestones deposited as three cycles. The lower cycle is formed by limestones interbedded with terrigenous mudstones and minor dolomites deposited m variable-energy shallow marine conditions. The middle cycle is dominated by anhydritic dolomitic mudstones deposited in a supratidal to subtidal setting. The upper cycle is composed of a shallow marine to sabkha facies consisting mainly of interbedded terrigenous mudstones and dolomite with minor oolitic-peloidal packstone/grainstone. In offshore Dubai the percentage of shale increases toward the upper part of the formation, and the top of the formation is marked by thin salt streaks and light green to gray shale and siltstone.

The Gulailah Formation (Carnian) (also known as Jilh Formation in onshore Abu Dhabi) consists predominantly of anhydritic, dolomitic mudstones and fine terrigenous sediments, with minor intraclastic wackestones and oolitic, peloidal packstone/grain-stone. The top is marked by gray calcareous shales overlying thin salt and shale beds. The formation reflects a continuation of the Sudair sabkha evaporite, and the presence of terrigenous sediments reveals deposition under shallow-marine sabkha conditions in am area that bordered a very restricted basin. Minor bioclastic and intraclastic sediments represent small incursions of more normal marine conditions.

The Hamlah Formation is upper Carnian-Norian in age, on the basis of palynomorphs and stratigraphic correlation. Its lower part consists of peloidal-molluscan wackestones, overlain by molluscan wackestones and packstones interbedded with bioclastic lime mudstones. These are overlain by highly bioturbated coarser molluscan packstones. The depositional setting suggested is a nearshore marine environment, and the bioturbated limestone facies with marine fauna indicates deposition under quiet-water but well oxygenated conditions. The depositional environment of the formation deepens toward offshore Dubai and the northern Emirates. There it consists of dark gray to brown dolomite overlain by a unit with thin, black to dark gray shale streaks, and it conformably overlies the Middle Triassic (Fig. 4). An abrupt gamma-ray shift mark the unconformable contact with the Lower Jurassic Izhara Formation.

Fig. 4.

Triassic to Middle Jurassic subsurface lithostratigraphy in Abu Dhabi.

Fig. 4.

Triassic to Middle Jurassic subsurface lithostratigraphy in Abu Dhabi.

The upper Norian to Hettangian(?) Minjur Formation is well developed in onshore U.A.E. only and is characterized by three coarsening-upward cycles. The lower cycle consists of interbedded argillaceous quartz sandstones and mudstones with thin coal seams near the base. The middle cycle is composed of interbedded shales and sandstones, and the upper cycle consists of thin sands and argillaceous/dolomitic limestones. The formation was deposited in a fluvio-deltaic setting, with the coarsening-upward character of the cycles representing progradation of delta lobes into interdistributary bay areas. The presence of coal horizons reflects a humid continental to marginal marine setting.

In the outcrops of the northern Emirates, the Middle Triassic to Lower Jurassic succession is called the Elphinstone Group and consists of two formations (Figs. 2,5): the Milaha and the Ghalilah (Searle et al, 1983; Alsharhan and Kendall, 1986). The Milaha Formation (Middle to Upper Triassic) consists of nonresistant, mostly argillaceous, partly dolomitized lime mudstones, which were divided by Hudson (1960) into three members as follows. The lower member consists of thin-bedded dolomitized limestones alternating with siltstones and silty marls and argillaceous dolomites. The middle member consists of well-bedded peloidal, bioclastic, light brown to buff dolomite, and the upper member comprises fossiliferous wackestones and grainstones (mainly bivalves, ostracodes, bryozoans, and stromatolites).

The Milaha Formation was deposited in a sheltered lagoonal, inner-shelf setting, which received occasional influxes of argillaceous sediments. In the northern and central Musandam Peninsula, the Milaha Formation grades from shales and tidal-flat dolomites to muddy, open-shelf, bioclastic, Megalodon-rich limestones and mollusc-rich biostromes (Ricateau and Riché, 1980; Searle et al., 1983). In contrast, to the south, along the edge of the Dibba Zone outer shelf, skeletal and peloidal lime-sand shoals and coral-algal reefs accumulated.

The overlying Ghalilah Formation (Upper Triassic-lower Lower Jurassic) represents the culmination of platform-wide clastic deposition and the occurrence of a marine regression. It consists of three units. The lower unit comprises quartz sandstones and marls. The middle unit consists of flaggy grainstones interbedded with marls, and the upper unit is of ferruginous quartz sandstones alternating with marls and calcareous shales. The formation was deposited in a continental to intertidal and shallow subtidal setting (Glennie et al., 1974; Ricateau and Riché, 1980; Alsharhan and Kendall, 1986).

Jurassic Stratigraphy and Depositional Setting

Lower Jurassic

At the end of Triassic time there was a regional relative drop in sea level caused by a eustatic lowering of sea level or uplift of the basement. In some areas this resulted in widespread progradation of fluvial and coastline clastics and in other areas, erosion or nondeposition (Hassan, 1989; Al-Husseini, 1997). In the subsurface of the U. A.E., the Triassic-Jurassic contact is an erosional sequence boundary marked by a regional erosional truncation (de Matos et al., 1994), but no sedimentary break is recognized in outcrop.

In the subsurface, the Toarcian Marrat Formation (Fig. 2) is found in onshore areas, but it is not present in offshore Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This may be due either to tectonic uplift preventing deposition, or to erosion of this formation. The Marrat is composed of mixed terrigenous clastics and carbonates and is divided into two units. The lower unit consists of interbedded bioclastic packstones/wackestones, intraclastic-peloidal and oolitic packstone/ grainstones, very fine dolomitic lime mudstones, and quartzose sandstones and silty claystones. The upper unit consists of three facies. The lower and upper facies contain mainly dolomitic, oolitic grainstones, micritic sandstones, and sandy limestones. The middle facies comprises a complexly mixed terrigenous-carbonate succession of mud-stones and dolomitic, quartzose sandstones. The Marrat Formation represents a regressive sedimentary succession deposited in a marginal marine setting. The lower unit represents an offshore facies and was deposited under conditions of variable energy. The upper unit was probably deposited on a flood plain and on tidal flats.

In the Musandam Mountains of the northern Emirates, the Jurassic to Early Cretaceous sedimentary rocks are called the Musandam Group (Figs. 2, 5, 6). The term “Musandam Limestone” was introduced by Lees in 1928. In 1959, Hudson and Chatton described the Musandam Limestone at its type locality in the wadis Hagil and Milaha. They divided it into a series of units, generally of formational rank and lettered A through P. In 1960, Hudson raised this stratigraphical succession to group status. Glennie et al. (1974) concluded that the Musandam Group generally shows a gradual change in facies from a predominantly deep-water, massive-bedded mudstone facies with subordinate grain-stones in the north Wadi Sham and Jebel Hagab area, to a more shallow-water, predominantly skeletal packstone and grainstone facies in the southern mountains of the Peninsula, southeast of Al Khatt village. Further, the Musandam Group was divided into four lithologic units (1-4) by Lippard et al. (1982) and Searle et al. (1983). For more detailed information about these units see Alsharhan and Nairn (1997).

The Jurassic section cropping out in the northern United Arab Emirates provides a detailed record of relative sea-level change, and yields vital clues to the biostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy of the Jurassic (de Matos et al., 1994; Toland et al., 1993). The basal Liassic beds are locally condensed intervals with crinoids, abundant phosphatic particles, fish debris, and bivalves. However, no clear, visible break in sedimentation is evident between the Triassic and Jurassic in the carbonates of Wadi Naqab (Walkden and de Matos, this volume). If there was an interruption in sedimentation, the hiatus was certainly minor. In excellent outcrops at Wadi Naqab the Liassic carbonates begin with a rrans-gressive, coarse cross-bedded ooid grainstone that is overlain by cyclic shallow carbonate sediments composed of multiple peritidal cycles. The base of each cycle is commonly bioturbated and rich in lituolids, algae, and oncoids, representing a lagoonal subtidal environment. The tops of the cycles generally show disrupted supratidal to intertidal lamination locally displaying birdseye structures. Cyclicity is on the meter scale and, in the Lower and Middle Liassic, cycle tops are commonly marked by paleo-exposure surfaces (paleokarst) with dissolution features, calcretes, dolomitization, and metoric cements, indicating sea-level oscillations (de Matos et al., 1994; Walkden and de Matos, this volume).

Middle Jurassic

Following the development of a significant unconformity over an extensive area in the Middle Jurassic, the Aalenian hiatus, normal marine shelf-carbonate sedimentation was established in the Arabian Gulf (Figs. 2, 5); Al-Husseini, 1997). In western U.A.E., the Middle Jurassic is divided into the lower Izhara Formation and the upper Araej Formation (de Matos and Walkden, this volume) (Figs. 2, 4).

Fig. 5.

Stratigraphic classification of Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous strata in the Musandam Penninsula and subsurface, U.A.E. and Oman. The Cretaceous time scale is based on Obradovich (1993) except for the Albian-Cenomanian boundary as dated by Scott and Stem (1996). The Jurassic time scale is from Gradstein et al. (1995). The classification in the U.A.E. is from Alsharhan and Nairn (1986,1988,1990) and de Matos et al. (1994). The outcrop biozonation is from de Matos et al. (1994). Note that the foraminifera Valvulinella is now named Kurnubia.

Fig. 5.

Stratigraphic classification of Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous strata in the Musandam Penninsula and subsurface, U.A.E. and Oman. The Cretaceous time scale is based on Obradovich (1993) except for the Albian-Cenomanian boundary as dated by Scott and Stem (1996). The Jurassic time scale is from Gradstein et al. (1995). The classification in the U.A.E. is from Alsharhan and Nairn (1986,1988,1990) and de Matos et al. (1994). The outcrop biozonation is from de Matos et al. (1994). Note that the foraminifera Valvulinella is now named Kurnubia.

The Izhara Formation in Abu Dhabi is composed largely of argillaceous lime mudstones with some bioclastic, peloidal pack-stones/grainstones and partly dolomitized and silty quartzose, bioclastic lime mudstones. The formation was deposited in a quiet-water shelf setting, as suggested by the argillaceous lime mudstones. In eastern offshore Abu Dhabi and Dubai the Izhara Formation consists of gray to gray-brown dolomite with anhydrite streaks and inclusions of some pyrite with minor gray to gray-green shales (Fig. 4). It grades upward to dolomitic pack-stones/wackestones with gray to black shale. Minor high-energy fluctuations in the depositional regime occurred, as evidenced by the grain-supported sediments.

The Araej Formation in Abu Dhabi and Dubai is divided into three members (Fig. 4). The Lower Araej Member comprises bioclastic-intraclastic and peloidal lime mudstones to pack-stones and minor grainstones, and contains significant amounts of clay and pyrite. The Uwainat Member consists of four different facies: peloidal packstones grading to mudstones; intraclas-tic wackestones and packstones; mottled bioclastic lime mudstones with traces of carbonaceous material grading into bioclastic-intraclastic packstones; and bioclastic, peloidal packstones and grainstones. The Upper Araej Member consists of dense and argillaceous lime mudstones in the lower part and by bioclastic-peloidal packstones and oolitic grainstones containing sparse bivalve fragments, foraminifera, and echinoderm and molluscan debris in the upper part (Alsharhan and Whittle, 1995).

The Araej Formation represents the continuation of a quiet-water, marine-shelf setting. Intraclasts and peloidal grains suggest higher-energy conditions, whereas the sections corresponding to muddy sediments suggest a slightly deeper, lower-energy setting.

In the northern Emirates at Wadi Hagil the Middle Jurassic Bathonian-Callovian-Bajocian outcrops consist of mudstones, grainstones, and packstones containing bioclasts, mainly algae, gastropods, echinoderms, and bivalves, with intraclasts of ooliths, pellets, and oncoliths (Figs. 5, 6) (Walkden and de Matos, this volume). This succession was deposited in a shallow-water lagoonal to subtidal environment, which extended westward into the Sinai (Holail, this volume).

Fig. 6.

Stratigraphy of the Musandam Group, Jabal Hagab between Wadis Hagil and Milaha, Musandam Peninsula, northern Oman Mountains. Foraminifera ranges after Hudson and Chatton (1959).

Fig. 6.

Stratigraphy of the Musandam Group, Jabal Hagab between Wadis Hagil and Milaha, Musandam Peninsula, northern Oman Mountains. Foraminifera ranges after Hudson and Chatton (1959).

Upper Jurassic

In western Abu Dhabi, the Upper Jurassic sequence consists of three formations (in ascending order): Diyab, Arab, and Hith (Figs. 2,7). The Diyab Formation is a thick succession of relatively deep-water, argillaceous lime mudstones and wackestones (Al-Suwaidi et al., this volume). These sediments grade eastward, into relatively clean, shallow-water limestones and dolomites. The Arab Formation reflects a period of marine regression with a shallowing-upward trend. The formation is subdivided into four regressive cycles, referred to as the Arab A to D Members (Fig. 7). The Arab D, the lowermost member, consists of shoal grainstones and lagoonal wackestones/packstones. The Arab A to C Members are characterized by cyclic carbonates and evaporites that were deposited in a peritidal setting over a relatively wide sabkha flat. In onshore western Abu Dhabi, the Arab A to C Members are known as the Qatar Formation, which consists of dense dolomudstones and anhydrites interbedded with dolomitized shallow subtidal to intertidal carbonates. The Hith Anhydrite represents the final regressive stage of the major depositional cycle (Alsharhan, 1989; Alsharhan and Nairn, 1997).

Fig. 7.

Upper Jurassic Arab Formation lithostratigraphic correlation in Abu Dhabi (modified from Al-Silwadi et al., 1996; Alsharhan and Nairn, 1997).

Fig. 7.

Upper Jurassic Arab Formation lithostratigraphic correlation in Abu Dhabi (modified from Al-Silwadi et al., 1996; Alsharhan and Nairn, 1997).

In central and eastern Abu Dhabi, where both the intrashelf basinal limestones and the capping Hith Anhydrite are absent, the Upper Jurassic sequence consists of three formations: the Dukhan, the Qatar, and the Asab (Fig. 2). Toward eastern Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the Upper Jurassic sequence comprises the Fateh and Asab Formations. The Fateh Formation consists of dolomitic packstones and dolomites and is a lateral equivalent to the Dukhan Formation in Abu Dhabi. The Asab Formation is the lateral equivalent of both the Hith and the Arab Formations and consists of lime mudstones and dolomites with traces of anhydrite in the lower part, followed by clean oolitic packstones/ grainstones (Ayoub and Ennadi, this volume). It becomes progressively less dolomitic and more limy eastward across Dubai into the northern U. A.E. offshore area (Alsharhan, 1989). Another Arabian example of dolomitic Jurassic carbonates is in Yemen (Al-Thour, this volume).

The Upper Jurassic Arab carbonate platform and/or shelf reservoirs are commonly sealed by supratidal Arab and Hith evaporites. The evaporites of the Hith Formation (Tithonian) represent the final regressive, supratidal stage of the last major Jurassic depositional cycle in the Arabian Gulf region. At the base of the formation, transgressive units occur as local minor lagoonal and intertidal thin, porous carbonate horizons (Alsharhan and Kendall, 1994).

The massive Hith Formation in the subsurface of central and eastern Saudi Arabia, with its nodular and laminated character, gradually thins eastward into Qatar and Abu Dhabi. The eastern margin of this massive anhydritic development trends north-south across central Abu Dhabi. This lateral transition is marked by a change from anhydrites to supratidal/lagoonal and intertidal dolomites. Above the base of the Hith, the anhydrite is progressively replaced by dolomite. Some of the dolomite in the eastern Emirates is probably the product of later diagenesis associated with brines migrating upwards from lower in the Jurassic section in the same way as the Hith dolomites in Saudi Arabia described by Wilson (1985) and Broomhall and Allan (1985).

In west-central Abu Dhabi, the Hith Formation consists of massive anhydrites and thinner dolomites. From core observations, the anhydrite here is composed of the chicken-wire variety, and the interbedded dolomites are light to dark brown, and sucrosic. The lower beds are formed by light brown to dark brown peloidal packstones and wackestones instead of dolomites. Towards central Abu Dhabi, where it pinches out into carbonate, the Hith Formation appears to have accumulated locally in a sabkha setting. This is evidenced by the interbedded relationship of the Hith anhydrites with carbonates and the local predominance of horizontally flattened nodules and enterolithic layers of the anhydrite. These sequences match some of the characteristic fabrics found in the Holocene coastal sabkhas of the United Arab Emirates. In Abu Dhabi, the Hith consists of gray to dark brown dolomite, which is sucrosic and medium to coarse-grained and contains minor oolitic grainstones. Anhydrite is dispersed throughout the section, but in very minor quantities. It forms a clear, transparent cement in the dolomites. The Hith Formation thins farther to the east in Abu Dhabi, and to the southeast, toward Oman, dolomite is replaced by limestone (Alsharhan, 1989). The Asab oolite and carbonate grainstones are lateral equivalents of the Arab and Hith formations in eastern Abu Dhabi. De Matos (1994) shows that the Asab Formation oolite is stratigraphically equivalent to the Hith Formation and the Arab-Α Member. Al-Silwadi et al. (1996) concluded that correlations are complicated by possible erosion and/or nondeposition of uppermost Jurassic sediments in eastern Abu Dhabi. Therefore, there is no clear evidence of an unconformity beneath the overlying Habshan Formation, and the changes within the Hith appear to be due entirely to lateral facies variations.

In the outcrops of the northern U.A.E., the Upper Jurassic is now known to be no younger than Oxfordian (Toland et al, 1993). The Oxfordian succession at Wadi Hagil is equivalent to the Lower Musandam Limestone unit F of Hudson and Chatton (1959) (Fig. 5) and Alsharhan and Nairn (1997). It is made up of three distinct members. The lower member comprises regressive, thin-bedded, fine to very fine sand, and cortoid packstones, characterized by hummocky cross-stratification, wave-ripple laminae, and local intraclast lag deposits. This is interpreted as a storm-dominated, offshore succession deposited above storm wave base. The middle member comprises regressive, thin to medium-bedded peloidal packstones and grainstones with commonly partly silicified branching stromatoporoids and dasycladacean algae. The upper member comprises resistant, thick-bedded, peloidal packstones and grainstones with local coral-stromatoporoid floatstone units.

Cretaceous Stratigraphy and Depositional Setting

The Cretaceous sediments of the U.A.E. consist mainly of epeiric shelf carbonates and associated minor clastics (Figs. 2, 5, 6). They accumulated during major cycles of transgression and regression, driven by gentle tectonic subsidence punctuated by eustatic sea-level variations (Scott, 1990; Kendall et al., 1991a).

Lower Cretaceous

Overlying the Jurassic Hith Formation of the U.A.E. is the Lower Cretaceous Thamama Group, which consists of the Habshan, Lekhwair, Kharaib, and Shuaiba formations (Alsharhan and Nairn, 1986) (Fig. 8). In the U.A.E. the entire Thamama Group is composed of cycles of porous and nonporous carbonates. The difference in depositional water depth between the Thamama high-energy packstone/grainstone and quiet-water microporous or argillaceous limestones was probably a few tens of meters.

Fig. 8.

Lithostratigraphy and log characteristics of Lower Cretaceous strata in offshore Abu Dhabi.

Fig. 8.

Lithostratigraphy and log characteristics of Lower Cretaceous strata in offshore Abu Dhabi.

The Habshan Formation is composed mainly of lagoonal carbonates interfingering with minor evaporites. It exhibits one major depositional cycle punctuated by four minor shallowing cycles (Alsharhan, 1989, Alsharhan and Nairn, 1997). The effects of eustatic change are suppressed by tectonic extension and subsidence (Kendall et al., 1991a). The Habshan Formation is generally composed of dense shelf carbonate mudstones and tight grainstones. Only at the Zakum and Bab fields are there porous grainstones in the Habshan reservoir units. Into eastern U.A.E. and in the southern Musandam Peninsula the Habshan grades laterally into and overlies the Rayda and Salii formations (Fig. 6) (Connally and Scott, 1985; Scott, 1990; Hulstrand and Mueller, 1997). Alsharhan and Kendall (1991) and Kendall et al. (1991a) divided this progradational pattern into three cycles of relative sea-level fall, possibly induced by initial collisional of the Arabian and Asian plates. Habshan-equivalent strata crop out in Saudi Arabia as nearshore facies (Shebl and Alsharhan, 1994 and this volume). In the subsurface of Kuwait the equivalent Minagish oolite is an important reservoir (Davies et al., this volume).

The overlying Lekhwair Formation contains five shallowing cycles. The grainstone parts of the cycles commonly form excellent reservoirs sealed between interbedded dense carbonate mudstones. This limestone is interpreted to have been deposited during a gentle sea-level rise with five superimposed low-amplitude, high-frequency sea-level variations (Alsharhan and Kendall, 1991; Kendall et al., 1991a). The Lekhwair is characterized by shale and minor siltstones and extends as far east as central Abu Dhabi. It is probably equivalent to the uppermost extent of the mixed carbonates and elastics of the Buwaib Formation of eastern Saudi Arabia. The Lekhwair is an important reservoir in eastern Abu Dhabi, and many structures in the area contain oil and gas in one or several of its porous members (Alsharhan, 1989).

The overlying Kharaib Formation accumulated under conditions similar to those of the Lekhwair Formation, but it contains more extensive porosity in its shallowing-upward cycles (Alsharhan, 1989; Saotome et al., 1997). The Kharaib Formation is composed of four shallowing-upward carbonate cycles, the grainier parts of which contain depositional and leached-grain porosity (Saotome et al., this volume). These are interpreted to represent deposition during two high-frequency eustatic sea-level changes superimposed on an overall rise (see also Alsharhan and Kendall, 1991; Kendall et al., 1991a).

The Shuaiba Formation is interpreted to represent deposition during one major eustatic rise (Alsharhan and Kendall, 1991; Kendall et al., 1991a; Kendall et al., this volume). It formed as a prograding carbonate shelf around the interior-shelf Bab Basin in central onshore-offshore Abu Dhabi and at the outer shelf margin in the eastern Emirates, and was dominated by rudists (Skelton and Masse, this volume) and calcareous algae. It is most porous in its upper part, where the original grainstones have been leached. In the Bab Basin the Bab Member, a dense, deep shelf to basinal limestone, is overlain by and may be laterally equivalent to the Shuaiba buildup. The Shuaiba is clearly delimited from the dense limestones of the underlying Kharaib Formation and the Nahr Umr Formation above (Fig. 8) (Al-A war and Humphrey, 1997, this volume; Alsharhan et al., 1997). In the southern part of the basin in Oman the Lower Aptian lower Shuaiba is a highstand aggrading sequence and the Lower-Upper Aptian upper Shuaiba is a lowstand prograding sequence of shallow to deep shelf facies (Witt and Gökdag 1994). Carbon-isotope stratigraphy suggests up to four sea-level changes during deposition of the Shuaiba Formation and its Bab Member (Wagner, 1990; Vahrenkamp 1996; Grötsch et al., 1998; Alsharhan et al., this volume). These events span the entire Aptian. The greatest production of hydrocarbons in the Thamama occurs from leached rudist grainstones associated with rudistbuildups in the Aptian Shuaiba Formation.

The occurrence of rudist banks with their off-reef shell debris has produced some of the most prolific fields (as in the Bu Hasa Field of Abu Dhabi). But in many other areas (as in the Sajaa Field of Sharjah, the Idd El Shargi Field of Qatar, and the Yibal and Ghaba North Fields of Oman) the Shuaiba has a microporous fabric, so that reservoir productivity in the unit is highly variable (Moshier et al., 1988; Alsharhan, 1995; Russell and Walkden, 1997). In some fields, stylolite zones divide the Shuaiba into separate reservoirs (Alsharhan and Sadd, this volume).

The basal Thamama Group in the outcrop of northern U. A.E. at Wadi Hagil is the Upper Musandam Limestone unit G (lower part) of Hudson and Chatton (1959) (Fig. 5) and is Berriasian to Valanginian (Toland et al., 1993). There it contains two conglomerate units. The base of the lower conglomerate is a planar erosion surface locally overlain by unstratified, clast-supported conglomerates with well rounded cobbles and small boulders. It is overlain by a thick succession of pelagic lime mudstone with calpionellids and crinoid fragments. The calpionellids and the 87Sr/86Sr ratio suggest Early to Middle Berriasian (Toland et al., 1993). The planar bounding surface at the base of the unit marks a significant erosional hiatus spanning the Kimmeridgian-ear-liest Berriasian and defines an abrupt change in depositional environment from shallow platform to platform slope. The basal conglomerate is interpreted to be a transgressive lag deposit, and the lime mudstone interval may represent highstand progradation of a carbonate foreslope into a starved deep-water basin. The base is a prominent downlap surface.

The upper conglomerate fills a channel incised into the lower interval as deep as the Jurassic. In the absence of age-diagnostic fossils Toland et al. (1993) used the 87Sr/86Sr ratio in the overlying lime mudstone to suggest a latest Berriasian to Early Valanginian age. This unit is part of the Upper Musandam Limestone unit G (in part) and unit H (in part) of Hudson and Chatton (1959). The conglomerate is characterized by unstratified, clast-supported conglomerates with clasts of pelagic lime mudstone, reworked conglomerate, peloidal grainstone, and chert, among others. These are overlain by pelagic lime mudstone and peloidal grain-stone. This boulder bed is interpreted to be a submarine canyon fill. The top of the boulder bed is the onlap surface of the overlying radiolarian lime mudstones, which represent a transgressive system tract. Toland et al. (1993) correlated this channel base with the base of sequence 2-1, cycle LZB-2, at 128.5 Ma (Haq et al., 1988).

Middle Cretaceous

The middle Cretaceous Wasia Group of the Arabian Gulf is bounded below and above by regional unconformities (Figs. 2,5) (Harris et al, 1984; Alsharhan and Nairn, 1988; Scott, 1990). The Wasia Group appears to drape structures formed by the underlying Thamama Group and was affected by several sea-level variations (Scott, 1990; Alsharhan and Kendall, 1991; Kendall et al., 1991a; Philip et al., 1995; Van Buchem et al., 1996; Immenhauser et al., 1999, this volume; Scott et al., this volume). In Oman the age-equivalent Natih Formation consists of seven members, A-G, that record sea-level events (Philip et al., 1995; Van Buchem et al., 1996). A major sea-level fall occurred in the mid-Cenomanian. This fall overprinted the structural events associated with the onset of the deformation of the Oman Mountains and formed the major unconformity between the E and D members of the Natih, which can be recognized over much of eastern Arabia (Harris et al., 1984; Scott et al., 1988; Alsharhan and Nairn, 1988; Scott, 1990). The top of the Wasia Group is a regional unconformity across the U. A.E. and in Oman. The age of the uppermost strata varies from upper Cenomanian in the U.A.E. to the lowermost Turanian in Oman because the extent of erosion was deeper in the Emirates. The middle Cretaceous stratigraphy of the U.A.E. has been complicated by a history of nomenclature that is still evolving, and also by the fact that the names of formations and lithofacies units have been used interchangeably. In ascending order, the Wasia Group is divided into four formations (Fig. 9) (Alsharhan and Nairn, 1988): The Nahr Umr, Mauddud, Shilaif (or Khatiyah in Dubai), and Mishrif formations (and the age-equivalent Tuwayil and Ruwaydah members).

Fig. 9.

Lithostratigraphy and log characteristics of middle Cretaceous strata in offshore Abu Dhabi.

Fig. 9.

Lithostratigraphy and log characteristics of middle Cretaceous strata in offshore Abu Dhabi.

The shale of the Nahr Umr Formation overlies the Shuaiba Formation and forms the major seal over the Lower Cretaceous reservoirs. The basal Nahr Umr accumulated during a major eustatic sea-level rise beginning in latest Aptian to earliest Al-bian, which seems to correlate in time with either sequence LZ8-4, 4.2 or UZ Al, 1.1 (Haq et al., 1988) (see also Scott, 1990; Immenhauser et al., 1999; Immenhauser et al., this volume).

Overlying the Nahr Umr Formation are the Mauddud, Shilaif/ Khatiyah, and Mishrif formations (Burchette and Britton, 1985; Loutfi et al, 1987, Alsharhan and Nairn, 1988). These formations are separated from each other on the basis of vertical position and lithologies (Fig. 9). This has led to some confusion in the description of the formations and in the understanding of their stratigraphy.

The Mauddud Formation is a dense, micriric shelf limestone that is interpreted to represent a late Albian stillstand. The overlying Shilaif to Mishrif and their equivalent formations contain evidence of six small rises in sea level (Alsharhan and Kendall, 1991; Kendall et al., 1991a). The Shilaif (Khatiyah) Formation is a well-laminated, locally bituminous carbonaceous marl that locally is a source rock. It overlies the Mauddud Formation and locally is laterally equivalent to the Mishrif Formation. The Shilaif Formation is interpreted to have accumulated in a euxinic depression where conditions favored preservation of abundant organic material.

The Mishrif Formation, which forms the progradational rim to the Shilaif Basin, contains most of the hydrocarbons in Middle Cretaceous rocks of the U.A.E. and has the best potential reservoirs. The Mishrif Formation is a bioclastic carbonate that is locally dominated by radiolitid rudists. These reservoirs are sealed by the overlying Coniacian Laffan Formation. The discontinuous distribution of this seal makes it difficult to predict the location of traps in the Mishrif Formation. Where the Wasia Group contains reservoir rocks and is overlain by shale of the Laffan Formation, however, fields may be quite large (Fateh and Umm al Dalkh Fields).

The lower part, however, of the shelfal packstones and wack-estones of the Mishrif Formation contain rudist buildups and are equivalent in age to the adjacent Shilaif/ Khatiyah basinal, bituminous, pelagic lime mudstones. Much of the upper part of the Mishrif Formation, particularly to the east, has been eroded (as in some parts of the Fateh Field in Dubai). There, the Mauddud, Shilaif, and Mishrif formations are Upper Albian-Cenomanian. Westwards, however, the upper part of the Mishrif (and its basinal equivalent, the Ruwaydah Member, which overlies the Shilaif Formation and theTuwayil Member) is Upper Cenomanian (Alsharhan and Nairn, 1988). Thus, the shallow-water carbonate Mishrif and Mauddud formations range from Upper Albian to Upper Cenomanian. The Shilaif Formation is Albian to Lower Cenomanian, and the capping basinal facies, the Ruwaydah Member, is Upper Cenomanian (Alsharhan and Nairn, 1988). In Dubai, Pascoe et al. (1995) demonstrated that the bioclastic shoal facies are initially aggradational in local areas in response to an overall rise in sea level in the latest Albian-Early Cenomanian whereas in the Middle to Late Cenomanian they became progressively more progradational into eastern Abu Dhabi. They believe that the latest Mishrif to early Laffan facies are more heterogeneous and are inferred to include equivalents to the Tuwayil and Ruwaydha members of the Mishrif Formation in Abu Dhabi.

Upper Cretaceous

Following the deposition of the Mishrif shelf sediments in the Middle Cretaceous, the region was uplifted and eroded during a coincident Turonian relative fall in sea level. The Aruma foredeep formed while a westward-migrating tectonic high passed through the northern UA.E. and was exposed as a similarly migrating shelf. These events were the combined result of the subduction at the Arabian continental margin in mid-Cretaceous time and the associated sediment loading of the continental lithosphere (Patton and O’Connor, 1988; Scott, 1990). As this process continued, allochthonous terranes from the Oman area advanced farther onto the continental margin. This caused the area that was upwarped in the Turonian to become part of the floor of the Aruma basin.

Following a period of major erosion and emergence in the Turonian, which lasted as long as 5 My in the northern U. A.E., the Upper Cretaceous Aruma Group (Figs. 2,5) was deposited during a time span of some 23 My. The Aruma Group sediments have the most complex lithofacies patterns and thickness changes of any of the major Cretaceous rock units in the UA.E. (Alsharhan and Nairn, 1990). These lateral and vertical changes are the result of the complex interplay of regional subsidence, pronounced eustatic change in sea level, and differential sedimentation rates across the region. The Upper Cretaceous succession can be divided into eight stratigraphic units: the Laffan, Halul, Ham, Muti, Fiqa (Lower Member, Upper Member), Juweiza, Qahlah, and Simsima formations. The Muti and the Qahlah are known only in outcrop, whereas the Juweiza was reported by Glennie et al. (1974) from the subsurface Juweiza-1 well in Sharjah drilled by Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) in 1957/1958 at depth of 44-3938 m (145-12,916 ft) with total thickness of at least 2920 m (if interpretation of the well data was correct).

In the northern Emirates part of the Oman Foredeep, sediments of the Upper Cretaceous Aruma Group are deep-water shales and marls, which exceed 3000 m in thickness. On the adjacent shelf, the equivalent section is only 100-150 m thick. Close to the mountain front, the sediments include flysch and transported carbonate blocks eroded from advancing thrust sheets associated with emplacement of the Semail Ophiolite sequence.

The Laffan Formation (Coniacian), which is composed mainly of slightly calcareous shales, lies at the base of the Aruma Group (Fig. 10). As was indicated previously, this shale can locally form a major seal over the Mishrif Formation. It interfingers with and is overlain by interbedded calcareous shales and argillaceous limestone of the Halul Formation. This in turn is overlain by the Campanian Fiqa Formation, which is composed of calcareous shales, marls, and argillaceous limestone with a deep marine fauna. It is followed by the Maastrichtian Simsima Formation, which is composed of fossiliferous and shaly limestone and peloidal-bioclastic packstone and wackestone and dolomitic limestone with coral and rudist buildups (Alsharhan et al., this volume; Schumann, this volume). The Simsima flanks the Oman foredeep (Schlumberger, 1981; Patton and O’Connor 1988, Alsharhan and Nairn, 1990; Smith et al., 1995). In the northern U.A.E., the Aruma Group was deposited in the foreland basin formed in western Oman when west-directed overthrusting occurred in the Oman Mountains. Sediments were then shed from this area farther westward into the Oman trough and across it to the marginal Arabian shelf areas of the U.A.E.

Fig. 10.

Lithostratigraphy of Upper Cretaceous strata in offshore Abu Dhabi-Dubai area.

Fig. 10.

Lithostratigraphy of Upper Cretaceous strata in offshore Abu Dhabi-Dubai area.

The Upper Cretaceous Aruma Group was apparently affected by epeirogenic movements punctuated by sea-level changes (Scott, 1990). Late Cretaceous deposition began with the Coniacian Laffan shale, a prodeltaic sedimentary rock probably related to either the 89 or 88 Ma sea-level rise of Haq et al. (1988). However, the tectonic overprint of the nappe emplacement of the Oman Mountains masks the sea-level events (Alsharhan and Kendall, 1991, Kendall et al., 1991a) and makes this interpretation difficult. The Halul Formation (or Ham in Dubai) limestones and marls were deposited in the Santonian to early Campanian and are related to two sea-level rises during this time (see the Haq et al, 1988). As with the rest of the Upper Cretaceous Fiqa, Simsima, and equivalent formations, which were deposited during the Campanian and Maastrichtian, it is much more difficult to recognize the tie to worldwide sea-level events (Alsharhan, 1997).

Potential for Petroleum Exploration

Major hydrocarbon fields are widespread in the U.A.E. (Fig. 11, Table 2). Jurassic oil and gas reservoirs occur in western Abu Dhabi, particularly in the offshore. Lower Cretaceous rocks are productive in central Abu Dhabi from the Zakum Field south through Mubarras, Bab, to the Bu Hasa, Asab, and Sahil fields. The general interpretation for the occurrence of oil in the Jurassic rocks of western Abu Dhabi is that it is related to the presence of the Hith Formation, which traps the hydrocarbons in the underlying Jurassic rocks. In the east, where the anhydrite of the Hith changes facies to dolomites and dolomiric limestones, hydrocarbons have been able to migrate upward into Lower Cretaceous rocks. The presence of the underlying Nahr Umr Formation shale probably prevented much movement of older oil from the Lower Cretaceous reservoirs up through the section. Middle Cretaceous rocks produce from a zone extending south from Umm Al Dalkh Field through the Fateh Field to the Saleh Field in the northern Emirates. Upper Cretaceous rocks of the U.A.E. produce hydrocarbons only at the Shah field in onshore Abu Dhabi, with minor oil and gas condensate occurring in some exploration wells and fields in the northern U.A.E. The oil and gas found in the area are trapped in the structural and/or stratigraphic traps (Fig. 12).

Fig. 11.

Distribution of the oil and gas fields in U.A.E. The names of the fields are shown in Table 2.

Fig. 11.

Distribution of the oil and gas fields in U.A.E. The names of the fields are shown in Table 2.

Table 2.

Oil and gas fields producing from Mesozoic carbonates in the United Arab Emirates. Locations of the fields are shown in Figure 11.

ReservoirSource rockSeal Rock
No.Field NameDiscovery DateFormationAgePay Thickness (ft)Depth to top of pay(ft)Porosity (%)Permeability (md)FormationAgeFormationLithologyOil Gravity (API°)Sulfur Content
1.Bab1953KharaibBarremian16086001-3016-32DiyabOxford ianKharaibDense limestone40.61.007
2.BuHasa1962ShuaibaAptian23075005-270.1-120DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale3950.95
3.Huwailah1965ShuaibaAptian25080608-215-150DiyabOxford ianNahr UmrShale38.50.77
4.Zararra1970ShuaibaAptian2503700186-18DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale42.60.08
5.Asab1965KharaibBarremian170770010-300.1-700DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone40.70.85
6.Sahil1967KharaibBarremian145880020-251-11DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone400.91
7.Arjan1982KharaibBarremian150920015-251-23DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone400.93
8.Rumaitha1965ShuaibaAptian145933515-201-θ0DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale430.63
9.Shanayal1983KharaibBarremian1409200DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone40?
10.Jam Yaphour1973ShuaibaAptian20010,5006-1810-40DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale37.20.97
11.Hudairiat1974LekhwairValanginian3010,950??DiyabOxfordiaLekhwairDense Limestone??
12.Zubbaiya1969KharaibBarremian1508850??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone38?
13.BuLabyad1985KharaibBarremian1408850??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone39-50?
14.BidaAl Qamzan1967KharaibBarremian807550??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone44?
15.Ruwais1968ShuaibaAptian2308350??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale33?
16.Shuweihat1978HabshanBarri asían908700??DiyabOxfordianHabshanDense Limestone?
17.Mender1975ShuaibaAptian803360??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale39-42?
18.Qusahwira1976ShuaibaAlblan4553855-1540DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale35.60.70
19.Umm Shaif1958ArabKimme-ridgian57588008-3260-350DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite391.9
20.Umm Lulu1981KharaibBarremian1509250??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone??
21.Mubarraz1969KharaibBarremian80-150880012-251-20DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone35-071.1
22.Zakum1964KharaibBarremian145710015-2915-30DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone4431.2
23.Umm Al Dholou1983ThamamaBerriasian-Aptian150-5005575??DiyabOxfordianThamamaDense Limestone31-37?
24.Belbazem1982ShuaibaAptian2205570??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale31?
25.Umm Al Sal sal1983KharaibBarremian1405570??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone31-47?
26.Nasr1971ArabKimmer-idgian9693007-171-5DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite30?
27.Abu AI Bukhoosh1969ArabKimmer-idgian28-50080008-255-100DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite36?
28.Mandous1967ShuaibaAptian1605850810Bab MemberAptianNahr UmrShale31.90.78
29.Bu Tini1979ArabKimmer-idgian25010,3001820-150DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite39-44?
30.Rashid1973MishrifCenomanian10095002080KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale531.6
31.Umm Al Dalkh1968MishrifCenomanian250800020-2515-50ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianLatfanShale300.08
32.Arzanah1973ArabKimmer-idgian9510,75010-126-18DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42.61.3
33.SW Fateh1970MishrifCenomanian100750015-251-80KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale321.4
34.Fateh1966MlshrifCenomanian100800017-231-102KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale3913
35.Fallah1976MishrifCenomanian40080001916KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale25-47?
36.Margham1982ShuaibaAptian23010,560??ThamamaBerriasian-AptianNahr UmrShale501.4
37.Shah1965SimsimaMaastrichtian250407014-2140-350ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianBasal Umm Er RadhumaShaleX?
38.El Bunduq1965ArabKimmer-¡dgian28082009-206-50DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite??
39.Sajaa1980ShuaibaAptian9011,000100.2-8DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShaly limestone??
40.Mubarek1972MishrifCenomanian6012,940??KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale45?
41Saleh1983MishrifCenomanian18014,17518?ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale44?
42.Hair Dalma1968ArabKimmer-idgian959550??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite50?
43.Sadiyat1974KharaibBarremian15510,560??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone??
44.BuDana1983ArabKimmer-idgian28010,000??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite30?
45.Hail1971ArabKimmer-idgian25-10010,500??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite?0.54-1.5
46.Ghasha1970ArabKimmer-idgian8010,30012-1410-20DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40-47?
47.Dalma1979ArabKimmer-idgian13-2310,50090.4-130DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42-490.7
48.SatahAI RaazBoot1970ArabKimmer-idglan10010,00012-1520DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42?
49.Satah1975ArabKimmer-idgian25-24093009-200.1-130DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite37.6?
50.Jamain1978ArabKimmer-idgian20-7010,0008-140.02-400DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite43-49?
51.Umm Al Anbar1982ArabKimmer-idgian100-20011,150??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40?
52.Bu Jufair1985ArabKimmer-idgian20-2109800-10,500??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite43?
53.Al Bateel1982ArabKimmer-idgian25-220??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40?
54.Jameelah1985KharaibBarremian1408000??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone45?
55.Yaser1983AraejBathonian1308950??DiyabOxfordianUpper AraejDense Limestone38?
56.Bu Haseer1984ArabKimmer-idgian30-2307870??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40
ReservoirSource rockSeal Rock
No.Field NameDiscovery DateFormationAgePay Thickness (ft)Depth to top of pay(ft)Porosity (%)Permeability (md)FormationAgeFormationLithologyOil Gravity (API°)Sulfur Content
1.Bab1953KharaibBarremian16086001-3016-32DiyabOxford ianKharaibDense limestone40.61.007
2.BuHasa1962ShuaibaAptian23075005-270.1-120DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale3950.95
3.Huwailah1965ShuaibaAptian25080608-215-150DiyabOxford ianNahr UmrShale38.50.77
4.Zararra1970ShuaibaAptian2503700186-18DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale42.60.08
5.Asab1965KharaibBarremian170770010-300.1-700DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone40.70.85
6.Sahil1967KharaibBarremian145880020-251-11DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone400.91
7.Arjan1982KharaibBarremian150920015-251-23DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone400.93
8.Rumaitha1965ShuaibaAptian145933515-201-θ0DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale430.63
9.Shanayal1983KharaibBarremian1409200DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone40?
10.Jam Yaphour1973ShuaibaAptian20010,5006-1810-40DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale37.20.97
11.Hudairiat1974LekhwairValanginian3010,950??DiyabOxfordiaLekhwairDense Limestone??
12.Zubbaiya1969KharaibBarremian1508850??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone38?
13.BuLabyad1985KharaibBarremian1408850??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone39-50?
14.BidaAl Qamzan1967KharaibBarremian807550??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone44?
15.Ruwais1968ShuaibaAptian2308350??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale33?
16.Shuweihat1978HabshanBarri asían908700??DiyabOxfordianHabshanDense Limestone?
17.Mender1975ShuaibaAptian803360??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale39-42?
18.Qusahwira1976ShuaibaAlblan4553855-1540DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale35.60.70
19.Umm Shaif1958ArabKimme-ridgian57588008-3260-350DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite391.9
20.Umm Lulu1981KharaibBarremian1509250??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone??
21.Mubarraz1969KharaibBarremian80-150880012-251-20DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone35-071.1
22.Zakum1964KharaibBarremian145710015-2915-30DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone4431.2
23.Umm Al Dholou1983ThamamaBerriasian-Aptian150-5005575??DiyabOxfordianThamamaDense Limestone31-37?
24.Belbazem1982ShuaibaAptian2205570??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale31?
25.Umm Al Sal sal1983KharaibBarremian1405570??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone31-47?
26.Nasr1971ArabKimmer-idgian9693007-171-5DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite30?
27.Abu AI Bukhoosh1969ArabKimmer-idgian28-50080008-255-100DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite36?
28.Mandous1967ShuaibaAptian1605850810Bab MemberAptianNahr UmrShale31.90.78
29.Bu Tini1979ArabKimmer-idgian25010,3001820-150DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite39-44?
30.Rashid1973MishrifCenomanian10095002080KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale531.6
31.Umm Al Dalkh1968MishrifCenomanian250800020-2515-50ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianLatfanShale300.08
32.Arzanah1973ArabKimmer-idgian9510,75010-126-18DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42.61.3
33.SW Fateh1970MishrifCenomanian100750015-251-80KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale321.4
34.Fateh1966MlshrifCenomanian100800017-231-102KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale3913
35.Fallah1976MishrifCenomanian40080001916KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale25-47?
36.Margham1982ShuaibaAptian23010,560??ThamamaBerriasian-AptianNahr UmrShale501.4
37.Shah1965SimsimaMaastrichtian250407014-2140-350ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianBasal Umm Er RadhumaShaleX?
38.El Bunduq1965ArabKimmer-¡dgian28082009-206-50DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite??
39.Sajaa1980ShuaibaAptian9011,000100.2-8DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShaly limestone??
40.Mubarek1972MishrifCenomanian6012,940??KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale45?
41Saleh1983MishrifCenomanian18014,17518?ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale44?
42.Hair Dalma1968ArabKimmer-idgian959550??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite50?
43.Sadiyat1974KharaibBarremian15510,560??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone??
44.BuDana1983ArabKimmer-idgian28010,000??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite30?
45.Hail1971ArabKimmer-idgian25-10010,500??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite?0.54-1.5
46.Ghasha1970ArabKimmer-idgian8010,30012-1410-20DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40-47?
47.Dalma1979ArabKimmer-idgian13-2310,50090.4-130DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42-490.7
48.SatahAI RaazBoot1970ArabKimmer-idglan10010,00012-1520DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42?
49.Satah1975ArabKimmer-idgian25-24093009-200.1-130DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite37.6?
50.Jamain1978ArabKimmer-idgian20-7010,0008-140.02-400DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite43-49?
51.Umm Al Anbar1982ArabKimmer-idgian100-20011,150??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40?
52.Bu Jufair1985ArabKimmer-idgian20-2109800-10,500??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite43?
53.Al Bateel1982ArabKimmer-idgian25-220??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40?
54.Jameelah1985KharaibBarremian1408000??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone45?
55.Yaser1983AraejBathonian1308950??DiyabOxfordianUpper AraejDense Limestone38?
56.Bu Haseer1984ArabKimmer-idgian30-2307870??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40

Fig. 12.

The various types of traps occur in United Arab Emirates (from Azer, 1989, reproduced with permission from Society of Petroleum Engineers).

Fig. 12.

The various types of traps occur in United Arab Emirates (from Azer, 1989, reproduced with permission from Society of Petroleum Engineers).

Upper Jurassic evaporitic sulfates and minor chloride strata of Arabia were deposited within a complex of giant salinas and sabkhas (more than 72 χ 106 km2) along the southern margin of the Tethys Ocean (Leeder and Zeidan, 1977; Alsharhan and Nairn, 1997). These evaporites now form an excellent seal to some of the world’s most prolific oil reservoirs. The present U.A.E. coastal environments appear to be a reasonable depositional model for some of the evaporite settings of the Hith Formation, but they are lined by a series of vast algal flats (Kendall and Skipwith, 1968; Birdwell et al., 1991). For the Holocene, this association of high concentrations of organic matter interbedded with carbonates and evaporites is unique, but it is also believed to have been common in the geological past. Indeed such associations may represent potential source rocks for ancient carbonate petroleum reservoirs.

Any interpretation of the Upper Jurassic evaporites of the Arabian Gulf region is influenced by the existence of a similar suite of supratidal evaporites and intertidal carbonates in the Holocene tidal flats of the U.A.E. These latter sediments of the Abu Dhabi coastal area are dominated by shallow-water carbonates and associated evaporite sediments (Kirkham, 1997). These include bioclastic grapestone and oolite sands, pelleted aragonitic muds, algal stromatolites, and intertidal and supratidal evaporites (gypsum, anhydrite, halite, and protodolomite). The anhydrite exhibits various structures, including ptygmatic folds, the upturned margins of polygonal saucers, disharmonic folds, and diapiric-like features (Butler et al., 1982).

Shoaling-upward successions of carbonates associated with evaporites are extremely common as hydrocarbon traps. The association of Holocene evaporites, carbonates, and algal-laminated units in Abu Dhabi is an excellent model of this reservoir type. Indeed, Kenig et al. (1990), Birdwell et al. (1991), Kendall et al. (1991b), and Kendall et al. (1994) demonstrate from their studies in Abu Dhabi that this association has some bearing on the occurrence of petroleum in similar sequences in the Middle East and the western United States and Canada. Cycles of ancient sabkha facies have been distinguished in the Jurassic Arab Formation by Wood and Wolf (1969) from Abu Dhabi and the Hith Formation of the eastern Arabian Peninsula. This suggests that other thick repetitions of dolomite and anhydrite in the geological record can also be interpreted in terms of arid, coastal-plain, accretionary processes, forming not only the seal but also the reservoir and the source. In the United States, similar carbonate traps are associated with major oil fields of the Central Basin platform and on the Northwest shelf of the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico. In these fields, shelf carbonates interfinger with updip evaporites and clastics (Ward et al., 1986). This association also occurs in fields of the Williston Basin, where evaporite-carbonate couplets of the Madison and Charles Formations trap hydrocarbons and form reservoirs. Similar rocks can also be found in the western Canadian Basin, where shoaling-upward carbonates and evaporites of the Winnepegosis Formation are associated with deposits that are like those seen in Abu Dhabi, and in Lake MacLeod, Australia, described by Alsharhan and Kendall (1994).

Abundant oil and gas reserves have been proved in the Phan-erozoic sediments of the U.A.E., with most occurring in the Meso-zoic section. Of these, most are contained in Cretaceous sediments (Thamama Group, Mishrif and Simsima formations), but oil and gas also occur in the Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous reservoirs, which are sourced from the Upper Jurassic Diyab Formation (Al-Suwaidi et al., 1997). Thus, the seal of Upper Jurassic Hith Formation traps hydrocarbons in the Jurassic to the west, and in the central U.A.E., where the anhydrite seal is absent, hydrocarbons have migrated upward into the Lower Cretaceous. In contrast, production in the middle and Upper Cretaceous is thought to be sourced from the intrashelfbasinal fades of the Albian-Cenomanian Shilaif (Khatiyah) Formation (Fig. 13). The underlying Albian Nahr Umr Formation apparently prevents movement of older oil from the Lower Cretaceous reservoirs upsection. Shales of the Nahr Umr, Laffan, and basal Umm Er Radhuma formations are important seals for the oil and gas accumulations. Secondary seals and barriers in the Lower Cretaceous Thamama Group are mainly dense limestones.

Fig. 13.

West-east cross section of Cretaceous-Tertiary in onshore Abu Dhabi showing prospectivity of middle Cretaceous Reservoirs (modified from Loutfi and El-Bishlawy, 1986). A) Shilaif is mature source rocks and migration is updip toward Shah Field. B) Shilaif is immature for hydrocarbon generation in this area. C) The occurrence of oil in the Simsima Formation here is due to the absence of the Fiqa shale seal. D) Simsima oil is present here only if Shah Field is full to spill point. E) Simsima Formation is non-prospective in southeast Abu Dhabi because of lack of mature source rock.

Fig. 13.

West-east cross section of Cretaceous-Tertiary in onshore Abu Dhabi showing prospectivity of middle Cretaceous Reservoirs (modified from Loutfi and El-Bishlawy, 1986). A) Shilaif is mature source rocks and migration is updip toward Shah Field. B) Shilaif is immature for hydrocarbon generation in this area. C) The occurrence of oil in the Simsima Formation here is due to the absence of the Fiqa shale seal. D) Simsima oil is present here only if Shah Field is full to spill point. E) Simsima Formation is non-prospective in southeast Abu Dhabi because of lack of mature source rock.

The Lower Cretaceous Thamama Group in the U.A.E. contains many potential structural and stratigraphie traps as in Iraq (Sadooni and Aqrawi, this volume). Most of the major structures have been drilled, but many low-relief features have yet to be explored. Similarly, stratigraphie traps, particularly porosity pinchouts in the cycles of the Thamama carbonates, may prove to be economic. The Thamama contains some thirty such porous units, many of which are thin and pinch out toward the margins of the Rub al Khali basin. Although most of the porous units occur offshore central and western Abu Dhabi, the margins of the Rubal Khali Basin of Abu Dhabi have the greatest undrilled potential in the U.A.E. The rudist bank facies of the Shuaiba Formation is the most productive part of the section. Similarly, rudist facies in the intraplatform shelfal areas mentioned previously also may prove to be important plays.

In central and eastern Arabia, the middle Cretaceous sediments tend to be continental elastics, but in the vicinity of the Arabian Gulf they are carbonate-rich, as in Iraq (Sadooni and Aqrawi, this volume). In the U.A.E., middle Cretaceous Wasia Group rocks reservoir hydrocarbons in many structures that extend from eastern offshore Abu Dhabi to offshore Ras al Khaimah. Traced eastward from Qatar to Oman, the middle Cretaceous section consists of carbonate units locally interfingering with shales. The shales are organically rich, possibly sourcing the oil and gas found in the carbonate reservoir rocks. The presence of rudist, coral-bank, and shell-debris facies is critical to commercial production from middle Cretaceous reservoirs. Successful exploration in the middle Cretaceous interval, both in structural and, more importantly, in stratigraphie traps, depends on mapping porosity trends. The middle Cretaceous of western and eastern Abu Dhabi has great potential. The reservoirs and source exist, but seals and traps will be subtle and a challenge to identify, particularly in western Abu Dhabi.

The Upper Cretaceous Aruma Group has not proved to be as productive as the Lower and middle Cretaceous. This is because reservoir-quality rocks like the Ilam/Halul carbonates and the Juweiza elastics are missing from this part of the geologic section. Until larger hydrocarbon fields are found in the Upper Cretaceous, exploration should concentrate on the rocks beneath it but at locations that can test its potential. Undoubtedly, thicker sections of porous Upper Cretaceous rocks may pinch out along the margins of the Oman Trough and could form large fields. A belt stretching from offshore Ras Al Khaimah to the Oman border parallels the Oman Mountains and provides the trend in which the Upper Cretaceous has the greatest potential.

Most of the Upper Cretaceous sediments deposited in the U.A.E. are regarded as a seal for middle Cretaceous and older reservoirs. Exceptions to this are the Ilam Formation carbonates, near the base of the Upper Cretaceous succession, and the Simsima Formation carbonates, at the top of the Upper Cretaceous interval. Both can be considered attractive exploration targets. The Ilam Formation has a number of oil shows in the offshore Emirates area, primarily from fracture porosity, and the Simsima has production from Shah Field, primarily from moldic and vuggy porosity. The presence of significant matrix porosity and permeability in the Simsima, which is overlain by essentially nonpermeable fine-grained carbonates, makes this unit a potential target over much of the foredeep area and adjacent shelf.

Future potential plays are subtle structural/stratigraphie traps, including: (1) the carbonate buildups of the Shuaiba (Aptian), Mishrif (Cenomanian), and Simsima (Maastrichtian) formations, (2) porosity pinchouts and diagenetic traps of the Habshan, the Lekhwair, and the Kharaib formations and (3) the Cenomanian clastic sediments of western U.A.E., (4) the Diyab Formation (bioclastic sediments) in western offshore Abu Dhabi, and (5) the Arab Formation in western offshore Abu Dhabi, where a well developed Hith Formation anhydrite seal occurs.

Conclusions

Abundant oil and gas reserves have been proved in the U.A.E. and are contained in the Jurassic (Araej and Arab Formations) and Cretaceous (Thamama Group, Mishrif and Simsima formations) reservoirs. Most of these hydrocarbon accumulations are contained in structural traps, though combined strati-graphic/structural traps exist in some areas. In western Abu Dhabi areas, the bulk of oil and gas is in Jurassic reservoirs whose depositional character is modeled by the Holocene of the U.A.E.; in central areas, the bulk of oil is in Lower Cretaceous shallow-water carbonate reservoirs; and in the eastern offshore Abu Dhabi and Dubai, shallow-water carbonate reservoirs are of middle Cretaceous age. In western Abu Dhabi, structural traps can be shown to have started developing in the Late Jurassic. However, moving eastwards, the initiation of structural development of the traps seems to become progressively younger. In the foreland basin, the Sajaa and Margham structures (which produce gas and condensate) are part of the buried frontal thrust of the Oman Mountains overthrust belt. These structural traps can be shown to have started developing in the Late Cretaceous. In the Miocene they were altered by uplift of the present-day Oman Mountains and reactivation of some of the preexisting faults in the area.

Two main source-rock ages have been identified. One is the Upper Jurassic Diyab Formation, which fed the most prolific Upper Jurassic in the Arab Formation reservoirs and Lower Cretaceous Thamama Group. The other is the middle Cretaceous Shilaif (Khatiyah) Formation, which fed both Mishrif and Simsima reservoirs. Other minor potential source rocks have also been identified in the study area.

There are two principal sealing formations, the Hith Formation anhydrite and the Nahr Umr Formation shale. They are the main seals for the oil and gas accumulations in the underlying Arab Formation and Thamama Group, respectively. Secondary seals and barriers also exist in the stratigraphie sequence.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their sincere thanks to Dr. K.W. Glennie of Aberdeen University for his comments and suggestions, which improved this paper.

Figures & Tables

Table 1.

Depositional settings of Arabian platform and their distinguishing characteristics in the United Arab Emirates.

NameArabian carbonate shelf
Present LocationFrom 22° to 28° north latitude and 51 ° to 57° west longitude
Geologic time intervalEarly Triassic-Late Cretaceous, (Scythian-Maastrichtian)
Tectono-sedlmentary settingPassive margin changing to back arc basin
Basin typeEpeiric shelf changing to foreland basin
PaleoclimateGenerally tropical (ranged from arid, semiarid to humid)
Platform typeRimmed, epeiric shelf changing to distally steepened ramp, shoainrudist complex and high-energy shoal rimming an intrashelf basins, high-energy shelf deposited as carbonate sand sheets
Platform geometryWide to moderately wide, at least 1700 m thick; more than 300 km wide and more than 700 km long
CirculationOpen to partially restricted
Facies and fossilsFine to coarse-grained carbonates (ooliticπpeloidainskeletal sand), thin intervals of shale and sandstone; pelagic and benthic foraminifera, algae, mollusks, sponges, echinoderms, and corals
System tractsTransgressive and progradational highstand
Stacking patternsBuildups, carbonate sand sheets, and nearshore cycles
Main Reservoirs (Formation/Age)Simsima (Maastrichtian), Mishrif (Cenomanian), Shuaiba (Aptian), Kharaib (Barremian), Lekhwair (Hauterivian), Arab (TithonianllKimmeridgian), Araej (BathoniannCallovian)
Main Source Rocks (Formation/Age)Diyab Formation (Oxfordian), Shilaif Formation (Cenomanian)
Main Seal Rocks (Formation/Age)Hith anhydrite (Tithonian), Nahr Umr shale (Albian), Laffan shale (Coniacian), basal Umm Er Radhuma shale (Paleocene)
NameArabian carbonate shelf
Present LocationFrom 22° to 28° north latitude and 51 ° to 57° west longitude
Geologic time intervalEarly Triassic-Late Cretaceous, (Scythian-Maastrichtian)
Tectono-sedlmentary settingPassive margin changing to back arc basin
Basin typeEpeiric shelf changing to foreland basin
PaleoclimateGenerally tropical (ranged from arid, semiarid to humid)
Platform typeRimmed, epeiric shelf changing to distally steepened ramp, shoainrudist complex and high-energy shoal rimming an intrashelf basins, high-energy shelf deposited as carbonate sand sheets
Platform geometryWide to moderately wide, at least 1700 m thick; more than 300 km wide and more than 700 km long
CirculationOpen to partially restricted
Facies and fossilsFine to coarse-grained carbonates (ooliticπpeloidainskeletal sand), thin intervals of shale and sandstone; pelagic and benthic foraminifera, algae, mollusks, sponges, echinoderms, and corals
System tractsTransgressive and progradational highstand
Stacking patternsBuildups, carbonate sand sheets, and nearshore cycles
Main Reservoirs (Formation/Age)Simsima (Maastrichtian), Mishrif (Cenomanian), Shuaiba (Aptian), Kharaib (Barremian), Lekhwair (Hauterivian), Arab (TithonianllKimmeridgian), Araej (BathoniannCallovian)
Main Source Rocks (Formation/Age)Diyab Formation (Oxfordian), Shilaif Formation (Cenomanian)
Main Seal Rocks (Formation/Age)Hith anhydrite (Tithonian), Nahr Umr shale (Albian), Laffan shale (Coniacian), basal Umm Er Radhuma shale (Paleocene)
Table 2.

Oil and gas fields producing from Mesozoic carbonates in the United Arab Emirates. Locations of the fields are shown in Figure 11.

ReservoirSource rockSeal Rock
No.Field NameDiscovery DateFormationAgePay Thickness (ft)Depth to top of pay(ft)Porosity (%)Permeability (md)FormationAgeFormationLithologyOil Gravity (API°)Sulfur Content
1.Bab1953KharaibBarremian16086001-3016-32DiyabOxford ianKharaibDense limestone40.61.007
2.BuHasa1962ShuaibaAptian23075005-270.1-120DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale3950.95
3.Huwailah1965ShuaibaAptian25080608-215-150DiyabOxford ianNahr UmrShale38.50.77
4.Zararra1970ShuaibaAptian2503700186-18DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale42.60.08
5.Asab1965KharaibBarremian170770010-300.1-700DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone40.70.85
6.Sahil1967KharaibBarremian145880020-251-11DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone400.91
7.Arjan1982KharaibBarremian150920015-251-23DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone400.93
8.Rumaitha1965ShuaibaAptian145933515-201-θ0DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale430.63
9.Shanayal1983KharaibBarremian1409200DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone40?
10.Jam Yaphour1973ShuaibaAptian20010,5006-1810-40DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale37.20.97
11.Hudairiat1974LekhwairValanginian3010,950??DiyabOxfordiaLekhwairDense Limestone??
12.Zubbaiya1969KharaibBarremian1508850??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone38?
13.BuLabyad1985KharaibBarremian1408850??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone39-50?
14.BidaAl Qamzan1967KharaibBarremian807550??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone44?
15.Ruwais1968ShuaibaAptian2308350??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale33?
16.Shuweihat1978HabshanBarri asían908700??DiyabOxfordianHabshanDense Limestone?
17.Mender1975ShuaibaAptian803360??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale39-42?
18.Qusahwira1976ShuaibaAlblan4553855-1540DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale35.60.70
19.Umm Shaif1958ArabKimme-ridgian57588008-3260-350DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite391.9
20.Umm Lulu1981KharaibBarremian1509250??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone??
21.Mubarraz1969KharaibBarremian80-150880012-251-20DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone35-071.1
22.Zakum1964KharaibBarremian145710015-2915-30DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone4431.2
23.Umm Al Dholou1983ThamamaBerriasian-Aptian150-5005575??DiyabOxfordianThamamaDense Limestone31-37?
24.Belbazem1982ShuaibaAptian2205570??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale31?
25.Umm Al Sal sal1983KharaibBarremian1405570??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone31-47?
26.Nasr1971ArabKimmer-idgian9693007-171-5DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite30?
27.Abu AI Bukhoosh1969ArabKimmer-idgian28-50080008-255-100DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite36?
28.Mandous1967ShuaibaAptian1605850810Bab MemberAptianNahr UmrShale31.90.78
29.Bu Tini1979ArabKimmer-idgian25010,3001820-150DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite39-44?
30.Rashid1973MishrifCenomanian10095002080KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale531.6
31.Umm Al Dalkh1968MishrifCenomanian250800020-2515-50ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianLatfanShale300.08
32.Arzanah1973ArabKimmer-idgian9510,75010-126-18DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42.61.3
33.SW Fateh1970MishrifCenomanian100750015-251-80KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale321.4
34.Fateh1966MlshrifCenomanian100800017-231-102KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale3913
35.Fallah1976MishrifCenomanian40080001916KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale25-47?
36.Margham1982ShuaibaAptian23010,560??ThamamaBerriasian-AptianNahr UmrShale501.4
37.Shah1965SimsimaMaastrichtian250407014-2140-350ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianBasal Umm Er RadhumaShaleX?
38.El Bunduq1965ArabKimmer-¡dgian28082009-206-50DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite??
39.Sajaa1980ShuaibaAptian9011,000100.2-8DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShaly limestone??
40.Mubarek1972MishrifCenomanian6012,940??KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale45?
41Saleh1983MishrifCenomanian18014,17518?ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale44?
42.Hair Dalma1968ArabKimmer-idgian959550??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite50?
43.Sadiyat1974KharaibBarremian15510,560??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone??
44.BuDana1983ArabKimmer-idgian28010,000??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite30?
45.Hail1971ArabKimmer-idgian25-10010,500??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite?0.54-1.5
46.Ghasha1970ArabKimmer-idgian8010,30012-1410-20DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40-47?
47.Dalma1979ArabKimmer-idgian13-2310,50090.4-130DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42-490.7
48.SatahAI RaazBoot1970ArabKimmer-idglan10010,00012-1520DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42?
49.Satah1975ArabKimmer-idgian25-24093009-200.1-130DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite37.6?
50.Jamain1978ArabKimmer-idgian20-7010,0008-140.02-400DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite43-49?
51.Umm Al Anbar1982ArabKimmer-idgian100-20011,150??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40?
52.Bu Jufair1985ArabKimmer-idgian20-2109800-10,500??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite43?
53.Al Bateel1982ArabKimmer-idgian25-220??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40?
54.Jameelah1985KharaibBarremian1408000??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone45?
55.Yaser1983AraejBathonian1308950??DiyabOxfordianUpper AraejDense Limestone38?
56.Bu Haseer1984ArabKimmer-idgian30-2307870??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40
ReservoirSource rockSeal Rock
No.Field NameDiscovery DateFormationAgePay Thickness (ft)Depth to top of pay(ft)Porosity (%)Permeability (md)FormationAgeFormationLithologyOil Gravity (API°)Sulfur Content
1.Bab1953KharaibBarremian16086001-3016-32DiyabOxford ianKharaibDense limestone40.61.007
2.BuHasa1962ShuaibaAptian23075005-270.1-120DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale3950.95
3.Huwailah1965ShuaibaAptian25080608-215-150DiyabOxford ianNahr UmrShale38.50.77
4.Zararra1970ShuaibaAptian2503700186-18DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale42.60.08
5.Asab1965KharaibBarremian170770010-300.1-700DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone40.70.85
6.Sahil1967KharaibBarremian145880020-251-11DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone400.91
7.Arjan1982KharaibBarremian150920015-251-23DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone400.93
8.Rumaitha1965ShuaibaAptian145933515-201-θ0DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale430.63
9.Shanayal1983KharaibBarremian1409200DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone40?
10.Jam Yaphour1973ShuaibaAptian20010,5006-1810-40DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale37.20.97
11.Hudairiat1974LekhwairValanginian3010,950??DiyabOxfordiaLekhwairDense Limestone??
12.Zubbaiya1969KharaibBarremian1508850??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone38?
13.BuLabyad1985KharaibBarremian1408850??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone39-50?
14.BidaAl Qamzan1967KharaibBarremian807550??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone44?
15.Ruwais1968ShuaibaAptian2308350??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale33?
16.Shuweihat1978HabshanBarri asían908700??DiyabOxfordianHabshanDense Limestone?
17.Mender1975ShuaibaAptian803360??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale39-42?
18.Qusahwira1976ShuaibaAlblan4553855-1540DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale35.60.70
19.Umm Shaif1958ArabKimme-ridgian57588008-3260-350DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite391.9
20.Umm Lulu1981KharaibBarremian1509250??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone??
21.Mubarraz1969KharaibBarremian80-150880012-251-20DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone35-071.1
22.Zakum1964KharaibBarremian145710015-2915-30DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone4431.2
23.Umm Al Dholou1983ThamamaBerriasian-Aptian150-5005575??DiyabOxfordianThamamaDense Limestone31-37?
24.Belbazem1982ShuaibaAptian2205570??DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShale31?
25.Umm Al Sal sal1983KharaibBarremian1405570??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone31-47?
26.Nasr1971ArabKimmer-idgian9693007-171-5DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite30?
27.Abu AI Bukhoosh1969ArabKimmer-idgian28-50080008-255-100DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite36?
28.Mandous1967ShuaibaAptian1605850810Bab MemberAptianNahr UmrShale31.90.78
29.Bu Tini1979ArabKimmer-idgian25010,3001820-150DiyabOxfordianHithAnhdyrite39-44?
30.Rashid1973MishrifCenomanian10095002080KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale531.6
31.Umm Al Dalkh1968MishrifCenomanian250800020-2515-50ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianLatfanShale300.08
32.Arzanah1973ArabKimmer-idgian9510,75010-126-18DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42.61.3
33.SW Fateh1970MishrifCenomanian100750015-251-80KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale321.4
34.Fateh1966MlshrifCenomanian100800017-231-102KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale3913
35.Fallah1976MishrifCenomanian40080001916KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale25-47?
36.Margham1982ShuaibaAptian23010,560??ThamamaBerriasian-AptianNahr UmrShale501.4
37.Shah1965SimsimaMaastrichtian250407014-2140-350ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianBasal Umm Er RadhumaShaleX?
38.El Bunduq1965ArabKimmer-¡dgian28082009-206-50DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite??
39.Sajaa1980ShuaibaAptian9011,000100.2-8DiyabOxfordianNahr UmrShaly limestone??
40.Mubarek1972MishrifCenomanian6012,940??KhatiyahAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale45?
41Saleh1983MishrifCenomanian18014,17518?ShilaifAlbian-CenomanianLaffanShale44?
42.Hair Dalma1968ArabKimmer-idgian959550??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite50?
43.Sadiyat1974KharaibBarremian15510,560??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone??
44.BuDana1983ArabKimmer-idgian28010,000??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite30?
45.Hail1971ArabKimmer-idgian25-10010,500??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite?0.54-1.5
46.Ghasha1970ArabKimmer-idgian8010,30012-1410-20DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40-47?
47.Dalma1979ArabKimmer-idgian13-2310,50090.4-130DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42-490.7
48.SatahAI RaazBoot1970ArabKimmer-idglan10010,00012-1520DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite42?
49.Satah1975ArabKimmer-idgian25-24093009-200.1-130DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite37.6?
50.Jamain1978ArabKimmer-idgian20-7010,0008-140.02-400DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite43-49?
51.Umm Al Anbar1982ArabKimmer-idgian100-20011,150??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40?
52.Bu Jufair1985ArabKimmer-idgian20-2109800-10,500??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite43?
53.Al Bateel1982ArabKimmer-idgian25-220??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40?
54.Jameelah1985KharaibBarremian1408000??DiyabOxfordianKharaibDense Limestone45?
55.Yaser1983AraejBathonian1308950??DiyabOxfordianUpper AraejDense Limestone38?
56.Bu Haseer1984ArabKimmer-idgian30-2307870??DiyabOxfordianHithAnhydrite40

Contents

GeoRef

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