AAPG Middle East Region Geoscience Technology Workshop, Rift Basin Evolution and Exploration

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Insights into the Basin Architecture and Exploration Potential of the Egyptian Red Sea


The Red Sea rift basin is a Tertiary rift basin that came into existence during late Oligocene age, (circa 23 Ma) due to divergence between African and Arabian plates. Early rift initiation began in the Late Oligocene followed by syn-rift in the Early Miocene. The syn-rift stage is characterized by normal extension and block rotation that was followed by increased subsidence and rift shoulder uplift. During the middle Miocene period, The Red Sea evolved from normal rift movement to oblique extension with counterclockwise rotation from the Middle Miocene onwards. (Bosworth, 2015) Exploration activities in this frontier basin are associated with numerous challenges such as the presence of thick evaporite sequences, structural complexity, and deeper subtle stratigraphic traps. The Egyptian Red Sea is a direct analogue of the Gulf of Suez, which is a highly explored basin currently producing large volumes of oil and gas. The tectonostratigraphic evolution suggests that both basins were linked depositionally during the Early Miocene period and their structural evolution was indistinguishable. The absence of discoveries in the Egyptian Red Sea can be attributed to a lack of basin understanding due to sparse and inadequate data. We present an integrated regional basin study using 2018 acquired 2D seismic and potential field data. Significant horizons and structures were interpreted using 2D seismic data. The revised interpretation, supported by greater confidence in seismic imaging, validates our predications of the basement architecture, titled fault blocks, and pinch-outs within the pre-salt, which are potential traps. The combination of 2D seismic data and potential field data provides an improved understanding of the salt geometries and syn-rift and pre-rift sequences to reduce uncertainty in the exploration of the deeper stratigraphic intervals. Petroleum systems modelling results indicate that syn-rift and pre-rift reservoir intervals are likely to lie within both gas and oil windows. The regional basin model integrates the available well data to produce a robust petroleum system model that provides an insight into the charge mechanism and associated exploration risks in the Red Sea. Acknowledgements: We thank WesternGeco Multiclient, The South Valley Egyptian Petroleum Holding Company (GANOPE) and our partners TGS for the use of the seismic data. We also thank our WesternGeco colleagues Raul Ysaccis, Samuele Ratti, Sebastian Villarroel, Oliver Schenk, Mohamed El Toukhy, and Hosny Diab for their technical contributions. References: William Bosworth., Chapter 3 - Geological Evolution of the Red Sea: Historical Background , Review and Synthesis, from book The northern Red Sea in Transition from Rifting to Drifting - Lessons learned from Ocean Deeps (pp.45-78)., April 2015