F. G. Al-Abri, A. P. Heward, I. A. Abbasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


The glaciogenic Al Khlata Formation (Late Carboniferous – Early Permian) contains important reservoir and seal intervals in oil fields in southern Oman. Here we describe a 3D regional geological model of the Al Khlata Formation and the underlying Misfar Group in a 1750 km2 area in the Eastern Flank of the South Oman Salt Basin. The Misfar Group (Devonian-Carboniferous?) was included in the model because it also contains glaciogenic facies in the study area. The 3D model is based on wireline logs from 42 wells, palynological zonation in 31 wells, cores from three wells, and a 2011 3D seismic dataset from which three horizons (top-Huqf, top-Rahab Shale and top-Gharif) were interpreted throughout the study area. The combined Al Khlata and Misfar interval varies in thickness in the area from 20 to 730 m over relatively short distances. These large variations in thickness were due to the creation of accommodation in mini-basins resulting from the removal of underlying Infracambrian salt at the basin margin. In places, some of the available accommodation was occupied by Cambrian sandstones of the Nimr Group and Haima Supergroup, influencing the location and thickness of the Al Khlata mini-basins. These local depocentres vary in scale, shape and orientation relative to the present-day salt edge: some are ovoid in plan-view, others more linear and parallel to the salt edge, and one takes the form of a narrow graben almost perpendicular to the salt edge. By the Early Permian, towards the end of Al Khlata time, deposits become more blanket-like and uniform, indicating an external or more regional control on base level. Four key lithofacies have been distinguished from wireline logs and were populated zone-by-zone through the geological model: sandstone (reservoir), shale (seal), and sandy and silty diamictite. Sandstones are most common towards the base of the Misfar – Al Khlata interval and shales towards the top. The Rahab Shale (Early Permian) at the top of the Al Khlata Formation forms an important seal for oil fields in South Oman, often in combination with seals in overlying intervals. The Rahab Shale was the first widespread seal to be deposited which may have trapped oil migrating from the South Oman Salt Basin during the Palaeozoic. The most common lithofacies in the Misfar – Al Khlata interval in the modelled area is diamictite (60%), which is normally considered to be a waste-rock lithology. However thick silty diamictites of sufficient extent can seal hydrocarbon accumulations, and some sandy diamictites have the potential to be unconventional reservoir rocks. Even after 50 years of exploration and production of oil from the Al Khlata Formation, there remains potential for further discoveries and overlooked pay zones due to its heterogeneous character and the occurrence of intra-formational seals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-46
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Petroleum Geology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Al Khlata Formation
  • Carboniferous
  • glaciogenic deposits
  • mini-basins
  • Misfar Group
  • Permian
  • reservoir rock
  • salt removal
  • seal
  • South Oman Salt Basin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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