Aneesa Ijaz Rabbani 1, Sameer Al-Hajri 1, Khaula Shahid Hussain 1, Graham Blackbourn 2, Chuangchuang Qi 1, Abhijith Suboyin 1, Jassim Abubacker Ponnambathayil 1, Md Motiur Rahman 1*, Mohamed Haroun 1, Muhammad A. Gibrata 3, Lamia Rouis 3 and Yanfidra Djanuar 3

1 Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Department of Petroleum Engineering, Abu Dhabi, PO Box 127788, United Arab Emirates.

2 Blackbourn Geoconsulting, 26 East Pier Street, Bo’ness, West Lothian, EH51 9AB, Scotland, UK.

3 Dragon Oil, Dubai Health Care City, Dubai, 34666, UAE.

* Correspondence:

The sedimentology, petrography and reservoir potential of Pliocene sandstones within the Upper Red Series in the offshore LAM field, Western Turkmenistan, have been examined. Depositional settings are interpreted within the framework of the Red Series palaeoenvironments across the entire Turkmen sector of the Apsheron-Prebalkhan uplift zone, including its onshore extension to the east. Examination of 81 m of core from three separate intervals suggests that the Red Series in the LAM field is the product of a fluvial-dominated delta system with associated floodplain deposits, periodically flooded by the saline waters of the South Caspian Lake. Relatively thick sandstones, up to around 5 m thick, are interpreted as channel and point-bar deposits of a meandering river system, with thinner and finer-grained sandstones and siltstones inferred to be crevasse-splay and interdistributary floodplain deposits. Floodplain mudstones display signs of desiccation, soil formation, plant rootlets and occasional thin layers of anhydrite. Intervals with marine trace-fossil assemblages record incursions of saline-lake waters. Conglomeratic layers at the base of thicker mudstone intervals may be associated with abrupt transgressions of the lake. The best reservoir qualities are associated with the fluvial channel and point-bar sandstones. Crevasse-splay and other overbank sandstones are of poorer quality, while intercalated floodplain to lacustrine claystone/siltstone units may constitute local seals.

Eighteen sandstone plug samples from the cored intervals were examined in thin-section and by XRD and SEM to assess how mineralogy, grain size and diagenesis affect reservoir quality. The samples consist predominantly of lithic arkoses and feldspathic litharenites; higher porosities, and therefore better reservoir potential, are associated with the feldspathic litharenites. Primary controls on porosity include compaction, clay-matrix content and calcite cementation. XRD data reveal the presence of illite, illite-smectite and chlorite. The presence of swelling clays has been the main cause of formation damage in the field.

The interpretation of meandering fluvial channels here is thought to represent the first published account of such channels within Pliocene reservoir rocks in the north of the South Caspian Basin. Previous accounts of the Red Series sandstones deposited onshore to the east have indicated deposition within braided channels of the palaeo-Amu Darya river delta plain, and alluvial-fan deposits sourced from uplands to the north. Deposition of the equivalent Productive Series by the palaeo-Volga in the Azerbaijan sector to the west has also been interpreted as having taken place within braided systems, although mixed or suspended-load fluvial channels ascribed to the contemporary Kura delta farther south may have been associated with a meandering system. Two palaeogeographic maps are presented to illustrate depositional environments for the Red Series during relative high- and low-stands of the South Caspian Lake. The maps cover the area where the Productive Series of Azerbaijan passes into the Red Series of Western Turkmenistan.

Key words: South Caspian Basin, Turkmenistan, Red Series, Pliocene, LAM field, Apsheron-Prebalkhan uplift, sandstones, fluvial deposition, sedimentology, reservoir quality.

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