31 January 2023 - 13:01
  • News ID: 468219
Iran Hydrocarbon Reserves Estimated at 16 BBL

TEHRAN (Shana) -- The director of exploration at National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Mehdi Fakour, has said that Iran was estimated to sit atop 16 billion barrels of hydrocarbon reserves.

“Iran’s low-cost for oil and gas production, represents a positive and promising privilege in attracting foreign investment,” he said. 

Fakour said planning was under way for the exploration of at least 3 billion barrels of oil and 30 tcf of gas up to the 7th National Development Plan, noting that the figures had been set based on the estimated budget allocation up to March 2027.

“According to the US Geological Survey, Iran, Russia and Iraq are the three countries that may continue oil and gas exploration for years, while other gas and oil-rich countries will not have new discoveries in coming years. At best, they may extract oil and gas from their current fields,” he said.

He added that sedimentary basins were mainly seen around the Zagros Mountains, covering Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Russia.

Border Exploration

Fakour also referred to exploration along maritime and land borders as the most important exploration priority of the petroleum industry and added: “Now relevant exploration activities are under way in Khuzestan, Ilam and Kermanshah provinces, the Dasht Moghan region and any other place where there is a possibility of hydrocarbon resource exploration. It could be said that there is no border point where the Directorate of Exploration is not involved.”

He pointed to the identifying gas structures and the outsourcing of exploration blocks as other exploration priorities of NIOC, adding: “In the outsourcing of exploration blocks, investment negotiations are underway with three domestic groups, and if an agreement is reached, the relevant contracts will be signed in accordance with the IPC model. The signed oil and development activities will be carried out in cooperation with E&P companies.”

He put the economic value of the project at around $2.5 billion and said: “Investors are willing to act separately and not in the form of a joint team in this area.”

Gas Exploration

Fakour further announced the implementation of a research-operational project in the Sea of Oman area and stated: “This project has had about 63% progress and with the identification of reserves related to this area, gas explorations in the waters of Sea of Oman will be certain.”

Emphasizing the need to accelerate the exploration process in the Persian Gulf, he also said: “In this area, 1,600 km of 2D seismic testing and 10,500 km of 3D seismic testing are planned.”

Western Hydrocarbon

He further pointed out the existence of 14 exploration blocks in the country and said: “These blocks have already been defined by the Directorate of Exploration, but due to sanctions imposed on Iran, they have not yet been awarded to any company. However, due to the discovery of about 30 tcf of gas in one of these blocks, which is located in the Persian Gulf, negotiations have been held to assign the development of the field.”

He said the new discovery was a significant leap in the economy of the south of the country.

According to him, the exploration process of oil and gas resources is at an acceptable stage, and the existence of hydrocarbon explorations in the north and southwest of the country has been confirmed.

Fakour referred to the surface geochemical method, which is a method for finding hydrocarbons through the surface of the earth, as an effective method, saying: “This method is being verified with seismic data, and significant fields have been counted using this method.”

Regional Cooperation

Touching on joint exploration projects with neighboring nations, Fakour said: “We are currently carrying out joint research activities with four countries, some of which are defined in the field of basic studies and some in the field of executive actions.”

He stated: “Joint exploration activities with Tajikistan are underway and this cooperation has entered the implementation stage.”

Unconventional Discovery

Fakuor further emphasized that part of exploration belonged to unconventional sources and said: “In this regard, reservoirs have been identified and their volume has also been determined.”

He said: “Regarding gas hydrates, we have identified methods and Iran is one of the few countries that has reached maturity on gas hydrates.”

Oil, Gas Output

Fakour referred to the issue of exploration in the 7th National Development Plan, saying: “According to the plan proposed by the Directorate of Exploration to NIOC, within a five-year period, 3 BBL of crude oil and 30 tcf of natural gas  is  to be produced.”

“Committing this amount of exploration has been made minimally and with the minimum average budget of the last four years (equivalent to $1.5 billion) the higher the budget, the higher will be exploration level,” he said.

“Increasing the number of drilling rigs to at least 36, performing 8,600 km of 2D seismic and an unprecedented 16,500 km of 3D seismic testing, and conducting exploration operations in the non-seismological field over 210,000 km are among the most important exploration plans for the 2026 horizon,” said Fakour.

Aeromagnetic Survey

Fakour said that aeromagnetic survey had been carried out in exploration activities, noting that it was the first time the Directorate of Exploration applied this method via using microlight aircraft.

An aeromagnetic survey is a common type of geophysical survey carried out using a magnetometer aboard or towed by an aircraft. The principle is similar to a magnetic survey carried out with a hand-held magnetometer, but allows much larger areas of the land’s surface to be covered quickly for regional reconnaissance. The aircraft typically flies in a grid-like pattern with height and line spacing determining the resolution of the data (and cost of the survey per unit area).

Aeromagnetic surveys are widely used for preparation of geological maps and are also commonly used during mineral exploration and petroleum exploration. Some mineral deposits are associated with an increase or decrease in the abundance of magnetic minerals, and occasionally they are sought after commodity may itself be magnetic (e.g. iron ore deposits), but often the elucidation of the subsurface structure of the upper crust is the most valuable contribution of the aeromagnetic data. It has also been used to detect buried fault zones that are prone to damaging earthquakes.

As the aircraft flies, the magnetometer measures and records the total intensity of the magnetic field at the sensor, which is a combination of the desired magnetic field generated in the Earth, as well as tiny variations due to the temporal impacts of the constantly varying solar, wind and the magnetic field of the survey aircraft. By subtracting the solar, regional, and aircraft impacts, the resulting aeromagnetic map shows the spatial distribution and relative abundance of magnetic minerals (most commonly the iron oxide mineral magnetite) in the upper levels of the Earth’s crust. Because different rock types differ in their content of magnetic minerals, the magnetic map allows a visualization of the geological structure of the upper crust in the subsurface, particularly the spatial geometry of bodies of rock and the presence of faults and folds. This is particularly useful where bedrock is obscured by surface sand, soil or water. Aeromagnetic data was once presented as contour plots, but now is more commonly expressed as thematic (colored) and shaded computer generated pseudo-topography images. The apparent hills, ridges and valleys are referred to as aeromagnetic anomalies. A geophysicist could use mathematical modeling to infer the shape, depth and properties of the rock bodies responsible for the anomalies.

Airplanes are normally used for high-level reconnaissance surveys in gentle terrain, and helicopters are used in mountainous terrain or where more detail is required.

Geobotanical Drilling

Fakour said the latest exploration method was being used in Iran. He said the geobotanical prospecting method had been merely used in three countries.

He said that geobotanical prospecting refers to prospecting based on indicator plants like metallophytes and the analysis of vegetation.

The technique has been used in China since the 5th century BC. People in the region noticed a connection between vegetation and the minerals located underground. There were particular plants that throve on and indicated areas rich in copper, nickel, zinc, and allegedly gold though the latter has not been confirmed. The connection arose out of an agricultural interest concerning soil compositions. While the process had been known to the Chinese region since antiquity, it was not written about and studied in the west until the 18th century in Italy.

Stratigraphic Traps

Fakour said more than 95% of the exploration process had been carried out in the anticline traps.

“Due to lack of access to stratigraphic traps exploration technology, a significant portion of the hydrocarbon in these areas remained intact,” he said.

He added that the stratigraphic traps were being surveyed, which would prove to hold significant oil and gas reserves.

He referred to the discovery of a combined trap in Abadan Plain, adding: “A similar trap has been identified in northeastern Iran, which could be considered as the first exploration process in non-anticline reservoirs after seismic testing.”

Exploration Equipment

Fakour said: “The drilling of deep wells (in the range of 5,000 meters and higher) is being done and according to this approach, it is necessary to comply with the requirements related to deep drilling due to increased pressure, heat and hydrogen sulfide gas in the field of manufacturing equipment and goods.”

“Informing domestic manufacturers about these requirements has been done and it has been emphasized that these companies need to conduct applied research in the field of deep wells in order to remain in the Iranian market,” he said.

He added: “The process of exploration in Iran will not be stopped, and this issue is considered a guarantee for future markets and the effective presence of manufacturers in the future.”

Courtesy of Iran Petroleum

News ID 468219


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