A compilation of average porosity and permeability data for Cretaceous petroleum reservoirs of the Middle East reveals important differences between the two main tectonic provinces. The Arabian Platform is characterized by inverse correlation of average porosity with burial depth in both carbonates and sandstones, whereas the Zagros Fold Belt (almost exclusively carbonates) has distinctly lower porosity and no depth correlation. These contrasts are suggested to reflect the fact that Arabian Platform strata are mostly near their maximum burial depth, whereas Zagros strata have experienced varying uplift and erosion following maximum burial in mid-Tertiary time. The carbonate reservoirs show no correlation between average porosity and average permeability, probably because of wide differences in the dominant pore types present, and permeabilities tend to be much higher for sandstones than for carbonates.
Existence of the Arabian Platform porosity–depth correlation, despite an apparently wide diversity of depositional settings and early diagenetic porosity modifications among the individual reservoirs, illustrates and confirms some fundamental generalities about how burial diagenesis controls the overall porosity evolution of reservoir rock bodies. Although porosity commonly shows enormous small-scale heterogeneity in both carbonates and sandstones, the average pre-burial porosity of larger stratigraphic intervals tends to be very high. Burial diagenesis progressively destroys this porosity by chemical compaction and associated (stylolite-sourced) cementation. Thus, all portions of the affected rock body move toward the zero limit as depth increases, although the rates of porosity occlusion vary greatly, depending on rock fabric and early diagenesis. Average reservoir porosity therefore tends to correlate inversely with maximum burial depth, regardless of initial lithological heterogeneity.