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A statistical analysis of reserves in fold and thrust belts, grouped by their geological attributes, indicates which of the world’s fold and thrust belts are the most prolific hydrocarbon provinces. The Zagros Fold Belt contains 490f reserves in fold and thrust belts and has been isolated during the analysis to avoid bias. Excluding the Zagros Fold Belt, most of the reserves are in thin-skinned fold and thrust belts that have no salt detachment or salt seal, are partially buried by syn- or post-orogenic sediments, are sourced by Cretaceous source rocks and underwent their last phase of deformation during the Tertiary. A significant observation is that the six most richly endowed fold and thrust belts have no common set of geological attributes, implying that these fold belts all have different structural characteristics. The implication is that deformation style is a not critical factor for the hydrocarbon endowment of fold and thrust belts; other elements of the petroleum system must be more significant. Other fold and thrust belts may share the structural attributes but the resource-rich fold belts overwhelmingly dominate the total reserves in that group of fold belts. There is nothing intrinsic in fold and thrust belts that differentiates them from other oil- and gas-rich provinces other than the prolific development of potential hydrocarbon traps. Many of the prolific, proven fold and thrust belts still have significant remaining exploration potential as a result of politically challenging access and remote locations.

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