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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 105, No. 4 (April 2021), P. 721-748.

Copyright ©2021. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1306/08192018002

Evaluation of Paleozoic source rocks in Kuwait

Fowzia Abdullah,1 Fouad Shaaban,2 Awatif Al-Khamiss,3 Fikry Khalaf,4 Fatma Bahman,5 and Bibi Akbar6

1Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, Faculty of Science, Kuwait University, Kuwait City, Kuwait; [email protected]
2Department of Science, College of Basic Education, Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, Adailiyah, Kuwait; [email protected]
3Exploration Group, Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), Ahmadi, Kuwait; [email protected]
4Geology Department, Faculty of Science, Port Said University, Port Said, Egypt; [email protected]
5Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, Faculty of Science, Kuwait University, Kuwait City, Kuwait; [email protected]
6Exploration Studies Team, Innovation and Technology, Kuwait Oil Company, Ahamdi, Kuwait; [email protected]


Organic geochemical and petrographic analyses were carried out on Paleozoic core samples to evaluate the source rocks in Kuwait. This is a pioneer study because most of the petroleum exploration targets the Mesozoic petroleum system. The samples were collected from four wells that penetrated the Permian Khuff Formation and the Carboniferous–lower Permian Unayzah Formation. Standard organic geochemical, vitrinite (Ro), and bitumen reflectance analyses were done on selected samples. Gas chromatography and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry as well as characterization of saturates, aromatics, and heteroatomic compounds (resin and asphaltene) were performed on two rock extracts. This was followed by carbon isotope analysis on the same extracts. The total organic carbon in the Khuff Formation ranges from 0.6 to 2.8 wt. % and from 0.8 to 3.7 wt. % in the Unayzah Formation. The highest total organic carbon values are in the northern fields. The petrography of the kerogen for both formations shows a mixture of algal-marine and terrestrial organic matter. The thermal maturity ranges from peak oil to overmature with elevated Ro (1.85%–2.57%). Gas chromatography on oil extracts from the Unayzah Formation indicates a marine source. Hopane biomarkers indicate a sapropelic–marine source rock. The pristane/phytane ratio and carbon isotope ratio indicate a dysoxic marine depositional environment. The oil extract shows a maturity level equivalent to the early to middle oil generation stage, which is lower than the kerogen maturity level. The results of bitumen reflectance show large variation in maturity level (0.5%–2% Ro) reflecting different migration time.

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