The unconventional revolution in North America has firmly established unconventional resource plays as an integral component of global hydrocarbon production. The established North American resource plays are heterogeneous and vary considerably in terms of play type, stratigraphic organization, and the lithology of the target unit. The Middle East has several world-class source rocks that have charged giant and supergiant conventional fields, which implies many opportunities to develop unconventional resource plays. Within this study, the stratigraphic organization of two prolific source rock intervals within the Early Silurian (Qusaiba Member) and Middle-Late Jurassic (Tuwaiq Mountain Formation and equivalents) is characterized from public-domain data sets. From this, a variety of unconventional plays are conceptualized within these resource intervals.
The systematic classification of established resource plays in North America facilitates analogue identification for these emerging resource intervals across the Middle East. The Montney play is identified as an analogue for the Silurian resource interval and can be used to help validate unproven unconventional play concepts. Within the Jurassic resource interval, multiple analogues are identified that characterize different aspects of the emerging unconventional play types. For instance, stratigraphic architecture within the emerging Tuwaiq Mountain shale play is comparable to the Vaca Muerta play of the Neuquén Basin in South America, while mineralogy is similar to that within the Eagle Ford play and porosity development is akin to the Marcellus play. Applying understanding from these analogues can enable more informed and efficient exploration, appraisal, and development decisions within these frontier and emerging Middle East resource plays.