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Reconstructing the Early Pliocene Tectonostratigraphic Development of the Offshore Eastern Nile Delta, Egypt

Peter Bentham

The early Pliocene interval of the offshore eastern Nile Delta represents a poorly understood and largely under-explored play fairway that has the potential to contribute significantly to future exploration activity. While likely trap sizes are modest, many of the potential targets lie in moderate water depths only 2-3 km below mud-line and are not subject to the HP/HT conditions typically associated with the larger (& deeper) pre-Messinian exploration targets. In addition, they also sit adjacent to existing producing infrastructure representing easily-accessible resources that can be brought to market quickly and efficiently to meet the region’s growing gas demand.

Few well penetrations have described this interval in detail, partly due to the lack of recognized exploration targets to date within it but more importantly due to the presence of Plio-Pleistocene growth faulting that extends and translates much of the early Pliocene interval down-slope to the north above the regional Messinian detachment level. Integrating regional 2D & 3D seismic data and key deep well control in the eastern Nile delta, this presentation offers structural and stratigraphic models to guide the evaluation of early Pliocene exploration targets. Fully understanding the key components of the known Pliocene petroleum systems and what makes the producing fields ‘work’ should help to significantly mitigate play risks in the future exploration fairways.

Existing Pliocene fields, such as Ha’py, Seth and Denise were deposited within middle-late Pliocene shelf and shoreline sequences that prograded northwards over the early Pliocene slope and basin floor. Understanding the early Pliocene paleo-geographic and structural evolution of the delta is necessary in order to predict the distribution of the synchronous depositional systems that may have carried reservoir quality sand into the basin. Trap and field analogs from other similar delta systems around the globe, including the Gulf of Mexico, Trinidad and Angola, clearly hint at the potential for currently unrecognized traps and play fairways in the areas underlying both the modern outer shelf and upper slope of the eastern Nile. However, given the structural complexity observed on the existing 2D and 3D seismic surveys, advances in current acquisition and processing are still required in order to adequately image the prospective structural and stratigraphic targets and to accurately define the local risks associated with them.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90161©2013 AAPG European Regional Conference, Barcelona, Spain, 8-10 April 2013