Why Does Middle East Has so much Fossil Fuels?


Middle East encompassed the states or territories of Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and the various states and territories of Arabia proper (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the Trucial States, or Trucial Oman [now United Arab Emirates]).


The fossils that make up fossil fuels come mainly from ancient microscopic organisms that sank to the bottom of the ocean. Those on the bottom of the pile were pushed down into the earth’s crust and slowly cooked into crude.


>>But if oil comes from ocean dwelling organisms, you may ask, why is so much of it concentrated in the dry, arid Middle East?

Because, as you may have guessed, the Middle East was not always a vast desert. Middle east was a very lush area with mountains and marine life about 300 million years ago. The carbonate reservoirs were formed from limestone, which derive their calcium from dead marine life, that precipitates out of the water. The seal is composed of various evaporites (anhydrites, NaCl) , which are impermable to flow.

The openings in the rocks were enlarged by secondary processes, making for excellent flow characteristics. Making a reservoir is something like making a cake, you need all the right ingredients, a container and it has to cook at the right temperature for a period of time.


Around 100 - 300 million years ago the region was covered by what scientists call the Tethys Ocean. Rivers feeding this ancient ocean saturated it with nutrients, giving rise to massive numbers of microscopic animals destined to be pressure cooked into oil.

Two characteristics, for the oil reservoir, is that it has to be large enough and oil can flow easily. It is also needs to be remembered that the Middle East region during the age of carbon was almost jungle-like for millions of years, not the dry arid desserts.

The Tethys eventually receded and gave way to the sandy Middle East we know today. But it left behind a reminder of the area’s watery past in the form of vast oceans of oil buried beneath the sand.

It’s well known that when it comes to oil, the Middle East is king. Saudi Arabia has more than 260 billion barrels of proven reserves. Iran has 136 billion. Iraq and Kuwait together nearly 120 billion. Combined, Middle Eastern reserves account for about forty percent of the world’s known oil.


Posted by: Lusubilo A. Mwaijengo

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