Exploration Update: Offshore Bahrain

Highly significant offshore hydrocarbon discovery of tight oil and deep gas in the Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin, offshore Bahrain.
This article appeared in Vol. 15, No. 2 - 2018


Major Hydrocarbon Discovery Offshore Bahrain

Map showing the location of the Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin. Image source: Drillinginfo. In early April 2018 Bahrain’s Higher Committee for Natural Resources and Economic Security announced a ‘highly significant’ offshore discovery of tight oil and deep gas in the 2,000 km2 Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin, which extends off the west and south-west coast of the island. 

The exact location has so far not been revealed; however, in 2016 operator Bapco let a turnkey contract to Schlumberger for the drilling and testing of two exploratory wells, and the Key Hawaii jack-up was operating in the extreme south of the Bahraini sector between mid-March and mid-October 2017.

The Oil Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al-Khalifa, said that the discovery was estimated to have 80 Bb tight oil inplace, with 13.7 Tcf of associated gas, with deeper gas amounting to 10–20 Tcf in-place – figures which dwarf Bahrain’s existing known reserves. The 80 Bb figure is reported to be a P50 estimate and is thought to apply to the entire resource play.

Geology and Petroleum System

Bapco pointed out that the presence of a layer with moderate conventional reservoir properties on top of an organic-rich source rock creates a unique self-sourcing and trapping system, enhancing production and economic viability.

Earlier Bapco technical documents suggest the oil may be reservoired in Jurassic Hanifa-Tuwaiq Mountain Formations. In 2012, light oil (43° API) was recovered from the source rock interval in this formation, establishing the potential for unconventional plays. The deep gas is probably reservoired in the Paleozoic Jauf and Tawil Formations (Pre-Khuff), which are deeper levels than the Khuff gas identified in the onshore Bahrain field. The source rock for the Pre-Khuff gas is the geographically extensive Silurian Qusaiba Formation. Thermal history modeling suggests gas generation in the Oligocene-Miocene. Deep (Pre-Khuff) gas has long been an identified target under the Bahrain Field, and it is possible the figures for the current find conflate the offshore and onshore potential.

Well Plan for the Recent Discovery

Two Halliburton-operated appraisal wells have been agreed for 2018 and Bapco is in discussions with IOCs and major service companies on partnerships to exploit the resources. To date, worldwide, no unconventional resources have been exploited offshore, but an optimistic production start date of 2022–2023 has been touted. The Minister added that they expected the resources to support production of 200,000 bopd and 1 Bcfgpd.

Bahrain's Future Economy

This discovery could provide a much-needed boost to the Bahraini economy, although with energy sales accounting for 87% of the government’s total income (2016), Bahrain has been trying to diversify its economy.

This update is brought to you by GEO ExPro and Drillinginfo.


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