• Early Palaeozoic;
  • carbonate reservoir rock;
  • hydrocarbon controlling factors;
  • Yingshan Formation;
  • Tarim Basin;
  • Tazhong Low Rise;
  • Well block ZG-43

Marine carbonate reservoirs, as a focus of petroleum exploration and development in China, are involved with high exploration risk and prediction difficulty owing to high heterogeneity and diversity of reservoir beds. In the Tarim Basin, NW China, carbonate reservoirs host about 38% of the whole basin's hydrocarbon resources in a large prospecting area mainly distributed in the Cambrian and Ordovician rocks in central (Tazhong) and northern (Tabei) Tarim. Recently, a better understanding has been made of the karsted weathering crust at the top of the Lower Ordovician Yingshan Formation in the northern slope area of the Tazhong Low Rise, Central Uplift, Tarim Basin. As a new frontier of exploration, oil/gas distribution and controlling factors of carbonate reservoirs in the Yingshan Formation are not clearly understood. In this work, we investigated the reservoir beds and oil/gas properties in 13 wells in Well block ZG-43 on the No. 10 structural belt in the Tazhong Low Rise, and studied hydrocarbon accumulation characteristics with seismic and geochemical data. The Yingshan Formation in Well block ZG-43 is mainly composed of calcarenite, dolomitic limestone, dolomite, cryptite, as low porosity and low permeability reservoir beds, with fracture-void porosity constituting the main reservoir pore space. Oil/gas is quasi-layer distributed beneath the unconformity between the Yingshan and Lianglitag formations to a depth of 140 m. The oil in Well block ZG-43 is condensate with low density, low viscosity, low sulphur, low resin, low asphaltene, and high wax. The gas is 87.3% methane, generally containing H2S. The oil/gas distribution pattern is oil in the east and gas in the west, and H2S content in the west is lower than that in the east. The controlling factors for hydrocarbon are multi-source supply and multi-phase charging, interstratal karstification, hydrothermal activity, structural location and sealing condition. A structural–lithological trap is the main type of oil/gas accumulation. Oil/gas distribution was clearly affected by strike–slip faults. Oil/gas with multi-source supply and multi-phase charging was controlled by favourable local palaeo-highs, and affected by later karsting and hydrothermal activity, as well as gas invasion in the Himalayan (Cenozoic) period. Under the caprock of compact limestone in the third to fifth members of the Lianglitag Formation, oil/gas migrated up along the strike–slip fault planes, and moved laterally to both sides in a ‘T’ shape, and formed large-scale quasi-layer condensate gas reservoirs controlled by reservoir bed quality. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.