Ibrahim M. J. Mohialdeen 1, Sardar S. Fatah 1, zger A. Abdula 2, 3, Mohammed H. Hakimi 4, Wan H. Abdullah 5, Polla A. Khanaqa 6 and Grenville A. Lunn 7*

1 Department of Geology, College of Science, University of Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.

2 Department of Petroleum Geosciences, Soran University, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.

3 Petroleum and Mining Engineering Department, Tishk International University, Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.

4 Department of Geology, Faculty of Applied Science, Taiz University, 6803 Taiz, Yemen.

5 Geological Society of Malaysia, c/o Department of Geology, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

6 Kurdistan Institution for Strategic Studies and Scientific Research, Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.

7 Geological Consultant, Clifton House, 23 Fauvel Road, Glossop SK13 7AR.

* Corresponding author, email

Key words: Baluti Formation, Kurra Chine Formation, Sarki Formation, Kurdistan, Iraq, source rock potential, Rock-Eval, solid bitumen, Triassic.

The Upper Triassic Baluti Formation has been identified and mapped based on its log response in selected wells from the Zagros foldbelt in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq. A preliminary evaluation of the formation’s source rock potential was made by Rock-Eval screening analysis in four wells along a NW-SE profile (Atrush-1, Shaikan-5B, Taq Taq-22 and Miran-2) with maturity determined from reflectance measurements in samples from well Taq Taq-22. The Baluti Formation consists of thinly interbedded shales, carbonates and anhydrite ranging in thickness from 48 m in well Atrush-1 to 118 m in well Miran-2. The Rock-Eval screening was conducted primarily on bulk cuttings samples plus selected picked cuttings. The TOC content is low to moderate (0.23 to 1.14 wt%). However, the shale content in many of the analysed bulk samples was relatively low, making assessment of the source potential problematic. The highest TOCs are recorded from the thickest analysed sections from wells Miran-2 and Taq Taq-22, where high-gamma bituminous shales are present. Rock-Eval Tmax values ranging from 295 to 438°C are not consistent with estimates of pre-Zagros burial to depths of between 4600 m (Atrush-1) and 6900 m (Miran-2). The relatively low Tmax values suggest that the S2 response does not reflect kerogen pyrolysis in these samples and may be due to the presence of solid bitumen, which is observed in the Baluti Formation in at least three of the study wells (Taq Taq-22, Miran-2 and Shaikan-5B). Little pyrolysable organic matter remains in the formation due to the interpreted deep pre-Zagros burial and the consequent high maturity in Taq Taq-22 (VR = 1.51%Ro) and Miran-2 (estimated VR >2%Ro), and the poor source character in Atrush-1 and Shaikan-5B. Organic petrography suggests the presence of vestiges of Types I and II kerogen in Taq Taq-22, with bitumen observed as stains in the matrix of the shales and also in the pores and fractures of interbedded dolostones. However, bitumen reflectance determinations for Taq Taq-22 indicate an equivalent vitrinite reflectance maturity of no more than 0.93%Ro, which is significantly less than that of the indigenous vitrinite, implying the solid bitumen in this well is derived primarily from migrated hydrocarbons. Further detailed analysis is required, but the results suggest that the Baluti Formation may have sourced hydrocarbons in its depocentre which is identified in this study as covering a NW-SE trending area between Bekhme and Sangaw.

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