25 February 2018 - 15:12
  • News Code: 281554
An Overview of Iran's 14 Tempting Blocks

TEHRAN, (Shana) -- Iranian and foreign analysts unanimously believe that the time is gone for the discovery of giant oil and gas fields in Iran. They say the chance of discovering fields like Ahvaz Asmari and South Pars is slim in Iran as most massive hydrocarbon structures in the country have been explored over the past quarter-century.


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 liquid hydrocarbon.

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 gas exploration.

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.

Iranian petroleum 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.

Central Iran

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 reserves.

Kopet Dag

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.

Offshore 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.

Zagros Block

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.

The Exploration 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 foreign investment.

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 

News Code 281554

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