The Jurassic age Hanifa and Tuwaiq Mountain Formations are regionally established source rocks that charged majority of the oil fields in the region. These formations are comprised of dark carbonate mudrocks with high organic richness and dominantly calcite mineralogy. Several studies were conducted regionally to evaluate the potential of these Jurassic intervals as an unconventional play.

In April 2018, The Kingdom of Bahrain announced the discovery of a major unconventional resource in Khalij Al Bahrain basin following the production of light oil from Tuwaiq Mountain Formation. These results confirmed the viability of the Jurassic source intervals as an Unconventional asset. However, the nature and the location of the resource present a number of operational challenges in a region where development of unconventional resources is at its infancy. This instigates the need to address and tackle these challenges through innovative approaches to enable the effective appraisal and subsequently development of the asset.

This publication introduces the emerging unconventional play in Khalij Al Bahrain basin and discusses the adopted strategies to appraise and develop the asset. The areas for optimization considered include well design, drilling and completion, facilities and shallow offshore/onshore logistics.


The Hanifa and Tuwaiq Mountain formations are Jurassic in age (Figure 1) and consist of a mixed section of dark organic rich limestone beds. These formations are regionally established as the principle source rock that charged majority of the overlying Jurassic reservoirs in the region, and in Bahrain, the cretaceous reservoirs as well. These source rocks are the main targets of the recently discovered Khalij Al Bahrain (KAB) basin in Bahrain with initial resource estimates indicating potentially up to 80 billion barrels of unconventional oil and 14 trillion cubic feet of gas in place.

Location and Geological Settings

KAB basin is located in the eastern part of the Arabian basin straddling the area towards the east of Saudi Arabia, west of Qatar Arch and south of the Zagros fold belts. Majority of the basin today falls within the land bound shallow waters around the main island of Bahrain. Major fields in the area include Awali, Dukhan and Abu Safah which are likely to have been sourced from these Jurassic source rocks (Figure 2). KAB basin also lies in close proximity to the Jafurah basin which is a significant Jurassic unconventional play in Saudi Arabia targeting the same formations [1].

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