Jianqiang Wang, Jie Liang, Qingfang Zhao, Jianwen Chen, Jian Zhang, Yong Yuan, Yinguo Zhang, Heping Dong

Characteristics of Deepwater Oil and Gas Distribution along the Silk Road and Their Controlling Factors

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry

Deepwater regions have emerged as pivotal domains for global oil and gas exploration and development, serving as strategic alternatives to conventional resources. The Silk Road region is distinguished by its abundant oil and gas reserves and stands as a leading arena for worldwide exploration and development in the oil and gas sector. Since 2012, a series of atmospheric fields have been discovered in the deep sea of the Luwuma Basin and the Tanzania Basin, with cumulative recoverable reserves reaching 4.4 × 1012 and 8.3 × 1011 m3, including multiple oil and gas fields ranking among the top ten global discoveries at that time. Profound advancements have been achieved in the exploration of deepwater oil and gas reserves along the Silk Road. However, deepwater oil and gas exploration presents challenges, such as high development costs and risks, leading to certain areas remaining underexplored and exhibiting a relatively low level of exploration activity, thereby hinting at considerable untapped potential. Deepwater sedimentary basins along the Silk Road predominantly adhere to a distribution pattern characterized as “one horizontal and one vertical”. The “horizontal” dimension refers to the deepwater basin grouping within the Neo-Tethys tectonic domain, primarily extending from east to west. Conversely, the “vertical” dimension denotes the deepwater basin grouping along the East African continental margin, predominantly extending from north to south. Recent discoveries of deepwater oil and gas reserves validate the presence of foundational elements within Silk Road basins conducive to the formation of substantial oil and gas reservoirs and the establishment of efficient migration pathways. Despite these achievements, exploration activities in deepwater oil and gas resources along the Silk Road remain relatively limited. Future exploration endeavors in deepwater regions will predominantly focus on identifying structural and lithological traps. In the deepwater areas of the Bay of Bengal, the emphasis is on lithological traps formed by Neogene turbidite sandstone deposits. In the deepwater regions of Pakistan, the focus shifts to lithological traps emerging from Neogene bio-reefs and river-channel sandstone accumulations. Along the deepwater coastline of East Africa, the focus is on lithological traps formed by nearshore Mesozoic–Cenozoic bio-reefs and seafloor turbidite sandstone formations. Within the deepwater regions of Southeast Asia, the primary objective is to locate large structural-type oil and gas fields. Analyzing the characteristics of oil and gas discoveries in deepwater areas aims to enhance the theory of the control of the formation of deepwater oil and gas, providing valuable insights for predicting future exploration directions.

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