This issue was outlined
in the first meeting of the Supreme Council of Iran Oil and Gas Exploration.
Gachsaran, Aghajari, Ahvaz, North Pars, Azadegan, South Pars and Kish are
classified under the category of giant oil and gas reserves in the world with proven
reserves of more than 10 million barrels of oil and more than 1 tcm of gas. The
main oil reserves were discovered in Iran from 1950s to 1970s, while the bulk
of gas reservoirs were uncovered from 1960s to 1970s. With the turn of time,
the discovery of giant conventional oil and gas fields has been on the decline.
Petroleum analysts across
the world, however, believe that despite century-old oil and gas exploration
and extraction in Iran, the county remains in the category of top 10 potential
oil and gas resources.
According to the United
States Geological Survey (USGS), Brazil, Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia,
Greenland, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, Nigeria and Kazakhstan are among top
potential holders of conventional oil while Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia,
Brazil, Iran, Turkmenistan, Nigeria, Australia, Norway and Iraq are the top ten
potential owners of conventional gas up to 2025.
Meantime, according to a
BP report issued in 2015, Iran's hydrocarbon reserves total 346 billion barrels
of equivalent oil (boe), making the country a top owner of recoverable oil and
gas in the world. Iran is followed by Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Russia. From
an economic perspective, Iran is better placed than Canada in terms of value of
Changes in the liquid
hydrocarbon reserves discovered in the Middle East countries from 2005 to 2014
show that Iran stands in the third place in terms of liquid hydrocarbon
reserves among Middle East nations, just behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, changes in the volume of discovered natural gas indicate that from
2005 to 2014 Iran came third after Turkmenistan and the US in terms of natural
With 157.8 billion
barrels of liquid hydrocarbon, Iran comes second in the Middle East. According
to estimates, Iran has potential to discover 25.7 billion barrels of new
hydrocarbon reserves by 2025. Moreover, Iran stands first with 34 tcm of
natural gas. The country is estimated to discover still 6.2 tcm of gas by 2025.
That may explain why so many foreign countries are willing to mine for oil in
Iran's exploration blocks.
The newly-developed Iran
Petroleum Contract (IPC) framework rewards companies that explore oil or gas in
Iran with long-term development contracts. Iran is ranked the 6th in
terms of potential oil reserves and 5th for gas in the world.
industry officials believe that access to cutting edge technologies would be
key to successful discovery of hydrocarbon reserves and extraction of deposits
in coming years. That is why Iran has introduced 14 exploration blocks, where
oil is likely to exist, to potential foreign investors.
14 Exploration Blocks
Over the past century, giant
exploration blocks like Ahvaz, Azadegan, Gachsaran, North Pars and Kish have
been discovered, showing Iran's strong potential for oil and gas. So far, 500
exploration wells have been drilled in Iran in hydrocarbon-rich areas, leading
to the discovery of numerous hydrocarbon horizons.
A total of 69 exploration
wells have been drilled over the past ten years, 50 of which have proved
successful. In the past three years, 22 exploration wells have been spudded
with 16 of them having been successful. That shows Iran's strong potential
hydrocarbon reserves. There is a strong need for more studies on all
sedimentary areas and application of state-of-the-art technologies.
Between 1998 and 2007,
the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) held four bidding rounds for
exploration and development blocks. In the end, agreements were reached with
international companies for exploration in 15 blocks. Among them, the Anaran,
Mehr and Fars blocks were declared commercial. The fate of some of these blocks
remained suspended due to the imposition of international sanctions on Iran;
however, they are to be revived soon.
The 14 exploration and
development blocks discussed in the present report are located in 6 sedimentary
zones and cover 71,000 square kilometers of land. Half of them are located in
the Zagros and Persian Gulf sedimentary zone. This sedimentary area is highly
potential for oil and gas exploration due to the existence of numerous
hydrocarbon reservoirs, as well as giant oil and gas fields.
Of seven exploration
blocks located in the Zagros and Persian Gulf area, four are onshore and
located all along the Zagros Mountains. Two of these exploration blocks are
located in the Lorestan sedimentary zone and in the northern section of the
Zagros belt; one is in the central section of the belt and another in the
southern section. There are three offshore blocks in the Persian Gulf area.
Kopet Dag sedimentary zone in northeast Iran is a sedimentary zone which lies
along the Turkmenistan border. It has been proven to be rich in gas and hosts
giant fields in Iran and Turkmenistan. An exploration block has been identified
in this sedimentary zone.
Moghan sedimentary zone
is an important area in northeast Iran. It is along the border with the
Republic of Azerbaijan. The sedimentary zone has also an identified hydrocarbon
system with known oil reserves in two fields located in this zone. There is
still one block to be explored in this zone. Moghan sedimentary zone is shared
by three countries: Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia. Given oil
exploration in the zone and activities conducted proving the existence of oil,
the chosen exploration block is located in the eastern section of Moghan Plain.
Drilling wells in Urta Dagh and Gir Darreh in the Moghan area proved the
existence of oil. That could be a positive point. Potential investors are
required to take into consideration the point that most sedimentary zones in
Iran are carbonated while this one is different. Due to the low permeability of
the reservoirs in Urta Dagh and Gir Darreh, companies with more experience in
destructive sedimentary zones are expected to bid for this project.
In the Central Iran sedimentary
zone, which is the vastest sedimentary zone in Iran, an exploration block has
been chosen in one of the richest sections of the sedimentary zone and close to
the Qom area.
Discovery of Sarajeh and
Alborz fields is a proof that oil and gas exist in the Qom area. The Central
Iran sedimentary zone was discovered in mid-1950s. The Alborz and Sarajeh gas fields
which were explored and developed later are located in this zone. The important
point is that the block had earlier been defined under Central Iran and saw
many activities. The sedimentary area covers part of Semnan Desert.
Sedimentary Zone in the East
As part of its effort to
introduce potentially rich sedimentary areas where less exploration has been
carried out, the NIOC has moved to introduce two exploration blocks in Taibad
in the east and in Sistan in southeast. The Sistan and Taibad blocks are
introduced as blocks in eastern Iran for investment. The NIOC has already
concluded preliminary geological studies on the Taibad block, yielding positive
results on reservoir rock. In the Sistan block, the preliminary studies
indicate a sequence with proper thickness. That could herald abundant hydrocarbon
The three exploration
blocks: Sarakhs, Dousti and Raz are located in Kopet Dag. They are up for
investment. The Dousti block is located in Sarakhs Plain, and neighbors the
Gonbadli and Tous fields.
The Sarakhs block is
located near the Dousti block and neighbors the giant Khangiran gas field and
the Tous field. Anticline structures are the most important exploration
objectives in this block. The Raz block is also located along the border with
Turkmenistan, but its geological and geophysical information is not as much as
that of the two other blocks.
Three offshore blocks
have been introduced in the Persian Gulf sedimentary zone. One exploration
block is located in the southern section of the Persian Gulf and two others in
the northern part. The outstanding features of this block include the existence
of the giant Kish gas field. Furthermore, the structures located in this
exploration block are of high significance in terms of gas exploration.
The other offshore block
is Mahan, where an oil formation has been identified and drilling has been
conducted. Other formations in this block are indicative of oil and gas
deposits. The Parsa block is among blocks located in the north of Persian Gulf
and is up for foreign investment.
The Zagros block is
located in the Lorestan area. Timab and Zahab are the two exploration blocks of
this area. Zahab shares border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Changouleh and Dehloran
oil fields are located in the Timab block.
The next exploration
block is Abadan which is home to the Ramshir and Shadegan oil fields which are
already producing oil. The deeper and undrilled horizons of this block could be
exploration targets. In the Fars area, recent explorations have added to the
attractiveness of this zone. The Fars exploration block is near the Sa'adatabad
and Sarvestan oil fields.
Directorate of the NIOC introduced the Kavir block in central Iran, the Moghan
block in Moghan, the Bamdad, Mahan and Parsa blocks in the Persian Gulf area,
the Sarakhs, Dousti and Raz blocks in Kopet Dag, the Sistan and Taibad blocks
in eastern Iran, the Dezful, Lorestan and Fars areas as well as the Abadan,
Timab, Zahab and Toudaj blocks as exploration and development blocks for
Iran currently has 184
onshore and offshore fields, which have 490 reservoirs. Among them, 171
reservoirs have already been developed or under development while the rest are
waiting for development.
Iran is also known to
have more than 712 billion barrels of oil in place, 101 billion barrels of
which still remain recoverable with a recovery rate of 24.6% whose 4.4% is due
to enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods.
Courtesy of Iran Petroleum