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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


DOI: 10.1306/10021414045

The discovery of the Barmer Basin, Rajasthan, India, and its petroleum geology

John Dolson,1 Stuart D. Burley,2 V. R. Sunder,3 V. Kothari,4 Bodapati Naidu,5 Nicholas P. Whiteley,6 Paul Farrimond,7 Andrew Taylor,8 Nicholas Direen,9 and B. Ananthakrishnan10

1DSP Geosciences and Associates, LLC, Miami, Florida; [email protected]; [email protected]
2Cairn India Ltd., Vipul Plaza, Gurgaon, India; University of Keele, Department of Earth Sciences, Staffordshire, United Kingdom; present address: Murphy Oil E&P, Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; [email protected]
3Cairn India Ltd., Vipul Plaza, Gurgaon, India; [email protected]
4Cairn India Ltd., Vipul Plaza, Gurgaon, India; [email protected]
5Cairn India Ltd., Vipul Plaza, Gurgaon, India; [email protected]
6Cairn India Ltd., Vipul Plaza, Gurgaon, India; [email protected]
7Integrated Geochemical Interpretation Ltd., Devon, United Kingdom; [email protected]
8The RPS Group, Century House, Gadbrook Business Park, Northwich, Cheshire CW9 7TN, United Kingdom; [email protected]
9FROGTECH, Hobart, Australia; present address: ExxonMobile, Houston, Texas; [email protected]
10Cairn India Ltd., Vipul Plaza, Gurgaon, India; [email protected]


The discovery of oil and gas in the Barmer Basin in northwest India was one of the more significant global discoveries in the decade 2001–2010. The basin’s presence was suspected from gravity and magnetic data in the late 1980s but not confirmed until 1999 from seismic and drilling. The basin is a lacustrine failed rift. Biostratigraphic data, however, indicate it was intermittently connected to marine waters via either the Cambay Basin, the Kutch Basin, or across the Devikot high, temporarily forming a large, shallow estuary. At least six major tectono-stratigraphic events have caused relative lake level falls and translation of clastic reservoirs basinward. Upward of 6 km (∼20,000 ft) of Cenozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks have been preserved. Prolific source rocks occur from the Mesozoic through Eocene strata.

Tectonically, the basin is divided into a northern and a southern province. The north province continues to undergo inversion and erosion, and has not been buried as deeply as the south. Kinetics of the major source facies in the north are substantially different from those in the south, as well as the present-day and paleo-heat flow. These differences have made the northern part of the basin predominantly an oil province and the southern part a mixed oil and gas province.

The prolific Paleocene Fatehgarh Formation contains the bulk of the 7.3 billion barrels of stock tank oil in place (STOIP) identified to date, but other reservoirs from the Mesozoic to the late Cenozoic are common and may yield significant future resource additions.

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