The Dnieper-Donets basin is almost entirely in Ukraine, and it is the principal producer of hydrocarbons in that country. A small southeastern part of the basin is in Russia. The basin is bounded by the Voronezh high of the Russian craton to the northeast and by the Ukrainian shield to the southwest. The basin is principally a Late Devonian rift that is overlain by a Carboniferous to Early Permian postrift sag. The Devonian rift structure extends northwestward into the Pripyat basin of Belarus; the two basins are separated by the Bragin-Loev uplift, which is a Devonian volcanic center. Southeastward, the Dnieper-Donets basin has a gradational boundary with the Donbas foldbelt, which is a structurally inverted and deformed part of the basin.
The sedimentary succession of the basin consists of four tectono-stratigraphic sequences. The prerift platform sequence includes Middle Devonian to lower Frasnian, mainly clastic, rocks that were deposited in an extensive intracratonic basin. The Upper Devonian synrift sequence probably is as thick as 4–5 kilometers. It is composed of marine carbonate, clastic, and volcanic rocks and two salt formations, of Frasnian and Famennian age, that are deformed into salt domes and plugs. The postrift sag sequence consists of Carboniferous and Lower Permian clastic marine and alluvial deltaic rocks that are as thick as 11 kilometers in the southeastern part of the basin. The Lower Permian interval includes a salt formation that is an important regional seal for oil and gas fields. The basin was affected by strong compression in Artinskian (Early Permian) time, when southeastern basin areas were uplifted and deeply eroded and the Donbas foldbelt was formed. The postrift platform sequence includes Triassic through Tertiary rocks that were deposited in a shallow platform depression that extended far beyond the Dnieper-Donets basin boundaries.
A single total petroleum system encompassing the entire sedimentary succession is identified in the Dnieper-Donets basin. Discovered reserves of the system are 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 59 trillion cubic feet of gas. More than one-half of the reserves are in Lower Permian rocks below the salt seal. Most of remaining reserves are in upper Visean-Serpukhovian (Lower Carboniferous) strata. The majority of discovered fields are in salt-cored anticlines or in drapes over Devonian horst blocks; little exploration has been conducted for stratigraphic traps. Synrift Upper Devonian carbonate reservoirs are almost unexplored. Two identified source-rock intervals are the black anoxic shales and carbonates in the lower Visean and Devonian sections. However, additional source rocks possibly are present in the deep central area of the basin. The role of Carboniferous coals as a source rock for gas is uncertain; no coal-related gas has been identified by the limited geochemical studies. The source rocks are in the gas-generation window over most of the basin area; consequently gas dominates over oil in the reserves.
Three assessment units were identified in the Dnieper-Donets Paleozoic total petroleum system. The assessment unit that contains all discovered reserves embraces postrift Carboniferous and younger rocks. This unit also contains the largest portion of undiscovered resources, especially gas. Stratigraphic and combination structural and stratigraphic traps probably will be the prime targets for future exploration. The second assessment unit includes poorly known synrift Devonian rocks. Carbonate reef reservoirs along the basin margins probably will contain most of the undiscovered resources. The third assessment unit is an unconventional, continuous, basin-centered gas accumulation in Carboniferous low-permeability clastic rocks. The entire extent of this accumulation is unknown, but it occupies much of the basin area. Resources of this assessment unit were not estimated quantitatively.
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