H2S is an unwelcome accompaniment to natural hydrocarbon gas but, in sufficient volumes, it can provide an economic source of sulphur, termed a ‘gaseous sulphur’ accumulation. Such accumulations are an important component of the sulphur reserves of Russia and other countries. A comparative study of the distribution of economic gaseous sulphur accumulations, together with native sulphur deposits, in the Amu Dar’ya, Volga–Urals, North Caspian and other basins of the former Soviet Union and elsewhere shows that they occur only within large hydrocarbon basins and are restricted to thick and regionally persistent evaporite–carbonate successions. The lithological and geochemical controls and various types of sulphur paragenesis result in a zoned series of accumulations, from gaseous sulphur to sulphur-rich oils to native sulphur, which can be traced from the deep central regions of hydrocarbon-bearing basins with sulphate–evaporite successions towards the shallow basin margins.

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