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Albania: Structural Opportunities in a Complex Mediterranean Setting

Abstract

The recent production revival of Albania's giant Patos Marinza field has re-focused the effort to unravel southeast Europe's most significant potential. Exploration has recently focused on oil plays in carbonate sub-thrusts, particularly as the Italian success in the Apennines mirrors an analogous structural/petroleum system with many similar features in Albania. This talk will briefly review the geology, and look at alternate structural models for undeveloped potential in the vicinity of the major thrust front termination. Albania's Mesozoic and Tertiary evolution was controlled by relative movements of the Adriatic subplate, culminating in several episodes of Miocene-Pliocene tectonics. The resulting series of structural zones, striking northwest-southeast and primarily thrusted to the southwest, are characterized by a thick series of passive margin Mesozoic to Tertiary carbonates, unconformably overlain by post-Eocene clastic sediments, particularly thick in the northwestern Adriatic sub-basin. The more structurally complex southeastern Ionian sub-basin developed much more extensive structural shortening, with large scale NW-SE striking ramp anticlines forming the dramatic carbonate mountains and flysch valleys which characterize the terrain. The boundary between the two prospective sub-basins, where the major oilfields are located, has not been entirely deciphered, but the structural and stratigraphic differences between the two sub-basins are significant. By integrating the available biostratigraphic, well, seismic and surface data into a regional structural/stratigraphic framework, an area of overlooked structural potential can be proposed.