The First Oil Discoveries in the Middle East

Flashbacks on the first discoveries of oil fields in the Middle East.
This article appeared in Vol. 7, No. 1 - 2010


1908 (May 26):
Masjid Sulaiman field (Masjid Sulaiman-1 well), southwest Zagros basin, Iran (Persia) by the Concessions Syndicate Ltd. (owned by Englishmen William Knox D’Arcy and Lord Stathcona, and the Scottish Burma Oil), forerunner of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later British Petroleum). Reservoir: Asmari limestone (Oligocene-Early Miocene), 354 m deep; oil 39.4° API gravity.
1927 (October 14):
Kirkuk field (Baba Gurgur No. 1 well), Kurdistan region, Iraq, by the Turkish (Iraqi) Petroleum Company (IPC, a consortium of the Anglo-Persian, Shell, Francaise des Petroles, American Near East Development Corporation, and Gulbenkian Foundation). Reservoir: “Main Limestone” or Kirkuk formation (Asmari equivalent) limestone (Oligocene), depth unknown; oil 36° API. Production began in 1934.
1932 (June 1):
Jabal Dukhan field (Jabal Dukhan-1 well), Bahrain, by the Bahrain Petroleum Company (a subsidiary of the Standard Oil of California); Reservoir: Waisa limestone (Cretaceous) at depths of 600-750 m; oil 38° API. Production began in 1934.
1938 (February 23):
Burgan field (Burgan-1 well), Kuwait, by the Kuwait Oil Company (owned by the Gulf Oil and the Anglo-Persian). Reservoir: Burgan sandstone (Middle Cretaceous), 1120 m deep; oil 32.5° API. Production began in 1946.
1938 (March 4):
Dammam field (Dammam-7 well), eastern Saudi Arabia, by the California Arabian Standard Oil Company (a subsidiary of Standard Oil of California). Reservoir: Arab limestone (Upper Jurassic), 1441 m deep; oil 34-35° API. Production began in the same year.
1940 (January):
Dukhan field (Dukhan-1 well), Qatar, by the Petroleum Development of Qatar (a subsidiary of the Anglo-Persian/IPC). Reservoir: Zekrit (Arab) limestone (Upper Jurassic), 1733 m deep; oil 37° API (Limestone 3) and 42° API (Limestone 4). Production began in 1940 and export began in 1949.
Bab (or Murban) field (Murban-1 well), Abu Dhabi (later part of the United Arab Emirates), by Abu Dhabi Petroleum Company (formerly Oil Development of Trucial Coast, a subsidiary of IPC); Reservoir: Kharaib Formation (Lower Cretaceous limestone), 3,776 m deep; oil 40° API. Production began in 1963.
Marmul field (Marmul-1 well), Oman, by Petroleum Department of Oman (subsidiary of IPC). Reservoirs: Umm Er Radhuma (Paleocene) 576 m deep (18° API) and Biyadh sandstone (Lower Cretaceous) 854-976 m deep (20.8° API). The field was non-commercial. 1963-67: The first producing fields, Yibal (1963, depth 2275 m, 38° API), Natih (1963, depth 2202 m, 31° API) and Fahud (1964, depth 590 m, 33.6° API) (all Cretaceous limestone), in Oman were discovered by Shell and Partex (Gulbenkian Foundation). Production began in 1967.
1956 (October):
Karatchok field (Karatchok-1 well), northeastern Syria, by the American independent James W. Menhall Drilling Company. Reservoir: Massive Limestone Formation (Cretaceous), 3155 m deep; oil 19-21° API. Production began in 1969.
1984 (March 4):
Alif field (Alif-1 well), Ma’rib Jawf graben of the Sab’atayn basin, Yemen, by the American Yemen-Hunt Oil Company. Reservoir: Sab’atayn Formation (Upper Jurassic), 2400 deep; oil 43 API. Production began in 1987.


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