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Petroleum Systems Modeling of the Salt Province and Outer Margin Offshore Essaouira (Atlantic Margin of Morocco)

Abstract

The Atlantic margin offshore Morocco can be characterized as a frontier area where hydrocarbon exploration is very immature. While the onshore Essaouira Basin hosts some small fields, offshore exploration resulted in sub-commercial discoveries only. Recent deepwater wells failed to find viable reservoirs so far, however, numerous hydrocarbon shows have been encountered, and a variety of different potential traps are related to salt tectonics. In addition, the relative success of the conjugate Atlantic margin of Nova Scotia is encouraging. The Atlantic margin offshore Morocco recently gained the interest of international oil companies again, and an aggressive drilling program is planned for 2014. In the presented work, we used a crustal-scale model based on recently acquired 2D seismic reflection data (MIRROR experiment, 2011) for regional thermal modeling to investigate the temporal evolution of temperature and thermal maturity at potential source rock levels. The modeling took into account the geodynamic evolution from Early Mesozoic rifting and continental break-up to major Cenozoic events, such as the Canary Island hot spot and the Atlas orogeny. In a further analysis of the salt basin, we performed structural restoration, describing the diapiric salt rise and extrusion, and integrating the process of salt withdrawal and associated sediment deformation. Based on the obtained model, we carried out petroleum systems modeling to predict potential scenarios of source rock maturation, hydrocarbon expulsion, migration, and accumulations in the context of the salt deformation through geologic time. The elements (source, reservoir, and seal rocks) and dynamic processes (trap formation, charge, and preservation) of different potential petroleum systems are discussed, and promising salt-related and other play types will be presented.