Why The Middle East Holds a Majority of the World’s known Oil Reserves?
Nov 05, 2019 08:33
The oil-rich countries in the Middle East include Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Yemen. Together, comprising an area of 5.1 million square kilometers that comes down to a mere 3.4% of the total land on our planet, these countries hold about 48% of the discovered oil reserves in the world.
The Middle East can, undoubtedly, be hailed as a king in terms of availability of oil and the region attracts an overwhelming number of foreign investors as well. The interesting question is as to why the Middle East holds a majority of the world’s known oil reserves. The answer to this question lies in the geological history of the region.
Why is the Middle East oil-rich?
We all know about the formation of the super-continent of Gondwana that comprised the modern day India, Australia, Africa, Antarctica, and South America. During this time, the current Middle East region was present at the passive margin of Gondwana in the North. Hence, the region was at the forefront of sea-level changes throughout the Paleozoic and Mesozoic period thereby making it a hotspot of marine sedimentation. The presence of a vast diversity of microorganisms and marine creatures played a pivotal role in the enrichment of these marine sediments. This organic carbon is vital for hydrocarbon generation.
On the northern margin of Gondwana, there existed, what scientists called the Tethys Ocean comprising of three oceanic basins. The three regions of the Tethys were due to the movement of continental fragments from the Gondwana region towards the paleo-Asian continent thus giving rise to continental rifts. It is understandable that these rift basins are an exceedingly favorable site for petroleum generation.
Another factor that favored in making the Middle East region oil-rich was global warming during the mid-cretaceous period. The global warming due to the rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere through volcanic activities contributed towards the rise of sea levels and an abundance of plankton that boosted further the organic richness and thickness of the marine sediments. This thickness of the marine sediments was extremely favorable for the storage of the abundance of oil that was supposed to be generated.
Over time these marine sediments and marine source rocks were superimposed with various layers of earth, thus creating an effective pressurized condition for the conversion of these enriched marine sediments into crude oil. As a result, presently we have the sandy Middle East with vast oceans of oil running below it. Overall, we can say that the Middle East region was at the right place at the right time.
These are the primary geological reasons behind the abundance of oil in the Middle East. A large number of foreign companies in collaboration with the local companies are involved in the production of oil in the Middle East and in the distribution of the same forming a major chunk of the modern-day economy of the region.
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