- Kutcherov, Vladimir Prof.
The 4200 km2 Romashkino oil and gas field of the South Tatarian Arch is the largest oil field of the Volga-Ural Basin and constitutes a significant petrochemical resource. In spite of its importance, the paragenesis of the hydrocarbons remains a matter of intense debate, with advocates for both biotic and abiotic origins. The DCO-sponsored Kazan Workshop on Abiotic Hydrocarbons (Kazan Federal University, 13-17 April 2013) explored methods for discriminating between biotic and abiotic hydrocarbons, and led to a consensus view that called for targeted drilling to retrieve well-documented samples to help resolve this issue. Accordingly, field samples are to be collected to identify the optimal site for scientific drilling in the Romashkino fields in an effort to resolve this question.
Romashkino oil field, which is confined to the anticlinal structure of the arch part of the South Tatar Arch, consists of Cenozoic sediments overlying Precambrian crystalline basement rocks. A wide range of carbon-bearing species occurs, from methane to heavy hydrocarbons. Isoprenoid-type biomarkers occur, though they possibly represent microbially reworked deep abiotic hydrocarbons , while C10 to C22 diamondoids add interest to the district.
Four steps are proposed to identify the optimal drilling site: (1) Conduct a small workshop to gather the key geological experts in the area; (2) Identify production wells with “abnormal” hydrocarbons in the target area; (3) Visit the proposed drilling site for preliminary collection of rocks and fluids from the area; (4) Select the drilling site based on the geology and information on nearby production wells.
Subsequent research (dependent on funding from other sources) will include scientific drilling and analysis of recovered samples. This research will leverage DCO investments in the Kazan Workshop on Abiotic Hydrocarbons, which promoted development of testable hypotheses for discriminating between biotic and abiotic methane and other hydrocarbons, sharing of well-characterized samples containing possible abiotic methane or other hydrocarbons that can be analyzed in multiple laboratories, sharing data on samples containing abiotic hydrocarbons, and developing new international scientific collaborations.