Geology and production significance of dolomite, Arab-D Reservoir, Ghawar Field, Saudi Arabia

D. L. Cantrell, P. K. Swart, R. C. Handford, C. G. Kendall, H. Westphal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


At least five distinct types of dolomite occur in the Arab-D Reservoir in Ghawar field, Saudi Arabia - one of which appears to be responsible for high flow or 'super-k'. These dolomite types are distinct petrographically, geochemically and stratigraphically: • a finely-crystalline non-fabric-preserving (NFP) variety of dolomite in the lower Arab-D (Zone 3) with low oxygen isotope values and generally poor reservoir quality; • a medium-crystalline NFP dolomite with high oxygen isotope values and very poor reservoir quality in the upper Arab-D (Zone 2); • a medium to coarsely-crystalline NFP dolomite with low oxygen isotopic values and very good reservoir quality ('super-k') occurring in Zone 2; and • a finely-crystalline fabric-preserving (FP) dolomite in the uppermost Arab-D (Zone 1) that contains high oxygen isotope values and has generally fair to poor reservoir quality. Previous studies have documented a rare fifth type of dolomite, baroque or 'saddle' dolomite, that occurs locally in the reservoir as well. This study also quantified and mapped the abundance and distribution of dolomite across the field, using all available core and log data. Analysis of dolomite distribution map patterns reveals that dolomite occurs in Ghawar as a series of linear trends extending for tens's of kilometers. These map pattern trends are best-developed in Zone 2B, but are also visible in Zones 2A and 3A as well. Baroque dolomite appears to be limited to a few areas of vertically pervasive dolomite occurring on the same trends of high dolomite content. The linearity of these dolomite trends strongly suggests that some structural element is responsible for controlling their orientation. We interpret these linear patterns to have formed in response to a series of fracturing and/or faulting events that allowed dolomitizing fluids to move up into the reservoir from below, and preferentially dolomitize there. Both a qualitative and a quantitative analysis of performance data (flowmeters) in southern Ghawar (Haradh) indicate that these trends of high dolomite have a profound influence on fluid flow in the reservoir. A qualitative analysis of occurrences of 'super-k' in the Arab-D in Haradh suggests that most 'super-k' zones (seen as 'spikes' or step profiles on the flowmeter) occur in the high dolomite trend in Haradh. A quantitative analysis of flowmeter data and a comparison of this analysis with dolomite map patterns indicate that most reservoir flow occurs where dolomite is abundant, and suggests that there is a direct relationship between patterns of high flow and high dolomite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-60
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology


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