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Ghawar Arab-D Reservoir: Porous Shoaling-upward Carbonate Cycles, Saudi Arabia

Robert F. Lindsay, Dave L. Cantrell, Geraint W. Hughes Harry W. Mueller III, and S. Duffy Russell Saudi Aramco Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Ghawar field is the worlds largest, most prolific field, producing 3031o API oil from the ArabD carbonate reservoir (Figure 1). The field is more than 250 km (155 mile) long, as much as 30 km (18.5 mile) wide, and has more than 300 m (1000 ft) of structural closure (Figure 2). The Arab-D reservoir, limestone with some dolostone horizons, stratigraphically comprises the D member of the Arab Formation and the upper part of the Jubaila Formation. Based on ammonite and benthonic foraminiferal evidence, the reservoir formations are Upper Jurassic, Kimmeridgian, in age. The reservoir has an average thickness of more than 60 m (200 ft), an average porosity of more than 15%, and permeability up to several darcys. The upper half of the reservoir is dominated by exceptionally high reservoir quality; the lower half contains interbeds of high and relatively low to non-reservoir quality. Early correlation of well logs and cores, before the advent of sequence stratigraphy, subdivided the reservoir from top to base into zones 1, 2, 3, and 4. Zones 2 and 3 have been subsequently subdivided into zones 2a and 2b and zones 3a and 3b, with a more detailed zonation scheme for reservoir management. The reservoir is composed of at least two composite sequences. One composite sequence is the Arab-D Member of the Arab Formation, with the upper boundary at the top of Arab-D carbonate and below the C-D evaporite, with the sequence boundary locally marked by pods of collapse breccia. The second composite sequence forms the upper part of the Jubaila Formation, for which the sequence boundary between the Arab-D Member and Jubaila Formation is located in zone 2b and is marked by a flood of slightly deeper water cycles over the more grain-dominated cycles in upper zone 3a and lower zone 2b. Several high-frequency sequences (HFS) have been identified, each comprising several cycle sets (parasequence sets). Each cycle set is composed of approximately five individual carbonate cycles (parasequences), and each cycle is composed of one to three beds.

These carbonates were deposited approximately 5o south of the equator on a broad, arid, stormdominated carbonate ramp (Figure 3). From upslope to downslope, the ramp consisted of the following subenvironments: (1) inner ramp; (2) ramp-crest shoal; (3) proximal middle ramp; (4) distal middle ramp; and (5) outer ramp (Figure 4). The inner ramp was a lagoon with localized intertidal islands composed of grainstones and packstones and a highly diverse, shallow-marine benthonic foraminiferal microfauna. The distal or seaward part of this regime consists of packstones characterized by dasyclad and encrusting algae. The ramp-crest shoal is composed of skeletal and oolitic grainstone, mud-lean packstone, and some mud-rich packstone. Skeletal sands of micritized foraminiferal tests and broken skeletal detritus also include larger fragments of transgressive and storm-derived stromatoporoids and corals. The proximal middle ramp is composed of domed and encrusting stromotoporoid-coral mounds and intermound sheltered areas dominated by branched stromatoporoids. The distal middle ramp, deposited below fairweather wave base, is composed of micritic to very fine-grained sediment capped by Thalassinoides firmgrounds. These firmgrounds are overlain by storm-derived rudstone and floatstone of inner ramp, ramp-crest, and proximal middle ramp bioclasts. The outer ramp is composed of deeper shallow-marine deposits of micritic to very fine-grained sediment capped by Thalassinoides firmgrounds. In this setting, smaller, benthonic foraminifera are common along with tetraxon and triaxon sponge spicules. From highest to lowest reservoir quality, the lithofacies or rock types consist of: (1) skeletaloolitic grainstone, mud-lean packstone, and some mud-rich packstone; (2) stromatoporoid-red and green algae-coral rudstone and floatstone; (3) Cladocoropsis rudstone and floatstone; (4) porous and locally extremely permeable to nonporous dolomite; (5) bivalve-coated grainintraclast rudstone and floatstone; and (6) micritic to very fine-grained deposits (Figure 4). Limestone porosity is a mixture of the following common pore types: interparticle (dominant), moldic (common), intraparticle (common), and microporosity. Less common is porosity associated with Thalassinoides burrows, with vertically oriented tunnels filled by grain-rich sediment. Shelter porosity is uncommon. Dolomite porosity, less common than the major

limestone pore types, is a mixture of moldic, intercrystal, and (least common) intracrystal porosity. Fractures (least common) do not contribute much porosity but contribute permeability. Diagenesis effects common within Arab-D reservoir carbonates include several dissolution events, recrystallization, and physical compaction. Cementation, episodes of dolomitization, and chemical compaction-stylolitization, although locally important, were less abundant events. The vertical seal for the reservoir is the overlying Arab C-D anhydrite. It is more than 30 m (100 ft) thick and is composed of varve-like laminae to very thin beds of anhydrite (thicker) and carbonate or organic matter (thinner) deposited in a salina. The salina periodically shallowed upward into peritidal and intertidal settings. A few porous-permeable carbonate stringers were deposited when relative sea level rise flooded the evaporitic shelf and temporarily restarted the subtidal carbonate factory, whereas relative sea level fall reestablished the subtidal brine factory and precipitated more evaporites. References Al-Husseini, M. I., 1997, Jurassic sequence stratigraphy of the western and southern Arabian Gulf: GeoArabia, v. 2, p. 361-382. Ayres, M. G., M. Bilal, R. W. Jones, L. W. Slentz, M. Tartir, and A. O. Wilson, 1982, Hydrocarbon habitat in main producing areas, Saudi Arabia: AAPG Bulletin, v. 66, p. 1-9. Handford, C. R., D. L. Cantrell, and T. H. Keith, 2002, Regional facies relationships and sequence stratigraphy of a super-giant reservoir (Arab-D Member), Saudi Arabia: in J. M. Armentrout, ed., Sequence Stratigraphic Models for Exploration and Production: Evolving Methodology, Emerging Models and Application Histories, 22nd Annual Bob F. Perkins Research Conference, Gulf Coast Section SEPM, p. 539-564. Koepnick, R.B., and L. E. Waite, 1991, Integrated description of the Hadriya and Hanifa reservoirs, Berri field, Saudi Arabia: Mobil In-House Report, chapter 2, 38 p.

Konert, G., A. M. Al-Afifi, S. A. Al-Hajri, and H. J. Droste, 2001, Paleozoic stratigraphy and hydrocarbon habitat of the Arabian Plate: GeoArabia, v. 6, p. 407-442. Lindsay, R. F., D. L. Cantrell, G. W. Hughes, T. H. Keith, H. W. Mueller III, and S. D. Russell, 2006a, Ghawar Arab-D reservoir: Widespread porosity in shoaling-upward carbonate cycles, Saudi Arabia, in P. M. Harris and L. J. Weber, eds., Giant hydrocarbon reservoirs of the world: From rocks to reservoir characterization and modeling: SEPM-AAPG Core Workshop, 2006 AAPG annual meeting, Houston, Texas, chapter 3, p. 97-140. Lindsay, R. F., D. L. Cantrell, G. W. Hughes, T. H. Keith, H. W. Mueller III, and S. D. Russell, 2006b, Ghawar Arab-D reservoir: Widespread porosity in shoaling-upward carbonate cycles, Saudi Arabia (abs): AAPG abstracts with programs Lindsay, R. F., D. L. Cantrell, G. W. Hughes, T. H. Keith, H.W. Mueller III, and S. D. Russell, 2006c, Ghawar Arab-D reservoir: Widespread porosity in shoaling-upward carbonate cycles, Saudi Arabia, in P. M. Harris and L. J. Weber, eds., Giant hydrocarbon reservoirs of the world: From rocks to reservoir characterization and modeling: AAPG Memoir 88, chapter 3, p. 1-44. Meyer, F.O., R. C. Price, I. A. Al-Ghamdi, I. M. Al-Goba, S. M. Al-Raimi, and J. C. Cole, 1996, Sequential stratigraphy of outcropping strata equivalent to Arab-D reservoir, Wadi Nisah, Saudi Arabia: GeoArabia, v. 1, p. 435-456. Murris, R. J., 1980, Middle East stratigraphic evolution and oil habitat: AAPG Bulletin, v. 64, p. 597-618. Powers, R. W., 1968, Saudi Arabia: Lexique Stratigraphique International, 3, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, 171 p. Scotese, C.R., 1998, Quick time computer animations, paleomap project: Department of Geology, University of Texas at Arlington.

Figure 1. Generalized Late Jurassic stratigraphy and lithologies in Saudi Arabia, with Arab and Hith reservoirs named. Modified from Powers (1968) and Meyer et al. (1996).

Figure 2. Major tectonic features of the Arabian Plate and Iran. Ghawar field is the large oil field in the center that trends north-northeast. Modified from Konert, et al. (2001).

Figure 3. Late Jurassic paleogeography of the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding area. Average directions of Arab-D and Jubaila progradation are shown by arrows. Band west of Riyadh is the Tuwaiq Escarpment. Modified from Handford, et al. (2002); Al Husseini (1997); Ayres, et al. (1982); Keopnick and Waite (1991); Murris (1980); and Scotese (1998).

Figure 4. Idealized depositional model of the Arab-D reservoir carbonate ramp in Ghawar field. This model depicts deposition of one carbonate cycle from the inner ramp, ramp crest shoal, proximal and distal middle ramp to outer ramp. Triangles represent transgressive deposits and upside down triangles represent highstand deposits. Base, with vertical burrow symbols, is a transgressive mud-rich deposit capped by a firmground that developed during maximum flooding and was burrowed by Thalassinoides. Diamond shapes, below fair-weather wave base, is distal middle ramp debris flow deposits of rudstone/floatstone. Mound shapes within fair-weather wave base, is proximal middle ramp biostromes/mounds of stromatoporoids and corals. Fork shapes is proximal middle ramp Cladocoropsis banks deposited in sheltered areas between and up-slope of biostromes/mounds. Cross bedding is the high-energy ramp crest grainstone shoal. Furthest up-dip is inner ramp lagoon/intertidal islands. Those facies/rock types that are abundant in each reservoir zone are underlined by the titles and associated arrows Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3. Distribution of the common to abundant faunal and floral elements (both laterally at any one time and stratigraphically through the reservoir zones) is shown below the figure. From Lindsay, et al (2006a; 2006b; and 2006c).