New Opportunities and Challenges to Discover and Develop Unconventional Plays in the Middle East and North Africa: Critical Review


Nowadays, as the worldwide consumption of hydrocarbon increases, while the conventional resources beings depleted, turning point toward unconventional reservoirs is crucial to producing more additional oil and gas from their massive reserves of hydrocarbon. As a result, exploration and operation companies gain attention recently for the investment in unconventional plays, such as shale and tight formations. A recent study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the Middle East (ME) and North Africa (NF) region holds an enormous volume of recoverable oil and gas from unconventional resources. However, the evaluation process is at the early stage, and detailed information is still confidential with a limitation of the publication in terms of unconventional reservoirs potential. The objective of this research is to provide more information and build a comprehensive review of unconventional resources to bring the shale revolution to the ME and NF region. In addition, new opportunities, challenges, and risks will be introduced based on transferring acquiring experiences and technologies that have been applied in North American shale plays to similar formations in the ME and NF region. The workflow begins with reviewing and summarizing more than 100 conference papers, journal papers, and technical reports to gather detailed data on the geological description, reservoir characterization, geomechanical property, and operation history. Furthermore, simulation works, experimental studies, and pilot tests in the United States shale plays are used to build a database using the statistic approach to summarize and identify the range of parameters. The results are compared to similar unconventional plays in the region to establish guidelines for the exploration, development, and operation processes. This paper highlights the potential opportunities to access the unlocked formations in the region that holds substantial hydrocarbon resources.

Meeting Name

Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference 2019, ADIP 2019 (2019: Nov. 11-14, Abu Dhabi, UAE)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Gasoline; Hydrocarbons; Investments; Oil shale; Proven reserves; Resource valuation; Shale, Geomechanical properties; Hydrocarbon resources; Middle East and North Africa; Reservoir characterization; Statistic approaches; U.s. energy information administrations; Unconventional reservoirs; Unconventional resources, Petroleum reservoir evaluation

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Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

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© 2019 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Nov 2019