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The West Mediterranean Salt Basin – Prospects and Plays in and around the North Balearic Basin, Offshore Spain


This paper looks at hydrocarbon potential in and around the North Balearic Basin, offshore Spain.

The Basin is part of the 'West Mediterranean Salt Basin' (Roberts & Christoffersen, 2013). The salt is of Messinian age and is typically over 1000m thick and seen to exhibit classic extension (salt welding and rollover anticlines), translation (salt pillows) and contraction (salt diapirs). Its nature is the key to the post salt plays which can be seen (many with DHI's).

As well as evidence for a biogenic post-salt gas system, there is evidence (from satellite seep studies and seismic data) pointing to an active thermogenic (presumably) oil generating province.

The presentation is based on work carried out by the authors and their partners in the planning of a new long offset multi-client seismic survey in the North Balearic Basin (fig 1). For this, vintage seismic data was obtained and reprocessing and depth conversion carried out; together with petroleum system modelling (including ties with the proven Gulf of Valencia petroleum system).

In the study area three petroleum systems have been recognised:

  • A)Pliocene/Quaternary - biogenic source:Post Rift/Post Salt plays: deltaics, turbidites and channel sands in structural and stratigraphic traps.
  • B)Pre Messinian (Oligocene/Miocene) - sourced from Oligocene/Miocene sapropels (ie organic rich muds - USGS 2004) and shales.Post Rift/Pre Salt plays: deltaic/ turbidites sealed by Miocene shales and Messinian salt.Syn Rift: canyon sands and deltaics.
  • C)Pre Tertiary: on the margins of the Basin.Pre-Rift plays: possible basement plays as seen in the Casablanca field area – sourced from overlying Oligocene Shales or from the Mesozoic (as in the Amposta field)
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    The paper will discuss these in further detail and be illustrated by numerous seismic sections.