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The Oil Reserves of Libya — Discovered, Produced and Yet to Find: From Analysis of the Impact of Recent New Ideas from the Reserve Base

Daniel D. Clark-Lowes
Nubian Consulting, Don't Know, Namibia

The early 1980s discoveries in the Murzuq Basin in NC101 and in NC115, where the El Sharara field is now on production, have proved up a new play and essentially a new province in Libya that has overtaken the Offshore and the Ghadamis basins in significance as the second largest oil province in Libya, second only to the Sirt Basin. This Paleozoic province, which has greater affinity to the oil fields of Algeria to the west than it does to Libya’s Sirt Basin, was established by discoveries made by the state Romanian and Bulgarian oil companies. However, it was not until Western European oil companies, Repsol in particular, became involved that the potential of the early discoveries became clear. This was possible because of new thinking about depositional facies in the Upper Ordovician deposits, then only recently understood as being of a diverse variety of glacial depositional environments, and new approaches to reservoir evaluation. At least two wells drilled in the 1960s had encountered oil on the El Sharara trend, now known to contain at least 3 billion barrels, and yet, using the technology of the time, they were deemed to be sub-commercial.

Using data from recent work on the oil reserves of Libya, the originally recoverable reserves of the Murzuq province, mainly discovered since the early 1990s, represent 8% of the originally recoverable reserves of the country, as calculated based on end 2005 figures. And yet this province contains as much as 20% of the remaining oil reserves of the country (again based on end 2005 figures). Analysis of provinces most likely to yield significant yet to find reserves also suggests that the Murzuq may have at least equal opportunities to those of the Sirt Basin.

AAPG International Conference and Exhibition, Cape Town, South Africa 2008 © AAPG Search and Discovery