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N. Khennaf, A. Laddada, Sonatrach Exploration

This paper was presented at the 11th Offshore Mediterranean Conference and Exhibition in Ravenna, Italy, March 20-22, 2013.
It was selected for presentation by OMC 2013 Programme Committee following review of information contained in the abstract
submitted by the author(s). The Paper as presented at OMC 2013 has not been reviewed by the Programme Committee.


The Algerian offshore is situated in the southern part of Western Mediterranean sea.
From East to the West, It extends over 1200 Km with an area of 93500 Km², corresponding
to the basins of Alboran into the West and Algero-Provencal into the center and the East.
The exploration of the Algerian offshore began during the sixties, with a 2D seismic
acquisition concentrated mainly on bays. Currently, a volume of about 34.500 km of 2D
seismic is available. In 2011, more than 5000 Km were acquired, in addition to the gravity
and magnetic data.
One deep well (HBB-1; 4496.5m) and two cores drill (ARZ-1; 1304m and ALG-1; 1205m)
were drilled in the Algerian offshore which still under explored. The interpretation of the
HBB-1 well data shows the possibility of existence of petroleum system; with source rock
related to Miocene (TOC could reach 1.5%). Concerning the reservoirs, HBB-1 well crossed
03 interesting sandy levels with good porosities (5-18%) within the Miocene and lower
Pliocene highlighted on Gamma Ray and Sonic logs. Other reservoirs could be interesting
and are related to the Numidian sandstones which exist to the Eastern part.
The messinian evaporitic sequence could be a regional seal in addition to the interbedded
clays and marls.
The interpretation of all the seismic data, let to establish different structural maps, with
several area of interest. The first one is situated in Eastern part between Béjaia and Annaba,
and the second one is situated in the Western part between Mostaganem and Ténès.
Different kind of traps (anticlines, faulted and tilted blocks) have been identified on the
seismic lines acquired in 2000 and 2002. The well definition of the traps will be possible with
a detailed 3D seismic acquisition in order to plan a new exploration well in the Algerian
offshore basin.


The Algerian offshore area is located in the western mediterranean sea, East of alboran
basin, and south of Algéro-provencal basin covering an area of 93500 sq km.
In geological perspective, it covers the area from the narrow continental shelf to the deep
basin, water depth range from 0-2800m.
Prospectivity is primarily associated with pre-messinian deposits, in addition to Pliocene.
The Algerian offshore is an under explored domain even the different seismic acquisitions
acquired since the sixties.
Evaluation of the 2D seismic data has highlighted a several leads and plays that exist at
various stratigraphic levels even though a working petroleum system still remains unproven.
One deep sea well and two core drill were drilled crossing the sedimentary section on the
continental shelf.
In order to minimize the uncertainties concerning the prospectivity of this area, the exploration
activity has been increased through acquiring new 2D and 3D seismic data, and a future well.


The Algerian offshore domain is situated in a convergent plate margin separating Africa and
Europe Fig 1. The opening of the western mediterranean sea dated 21My (Oligo-Acquitanian),
it also causes the counter clock rotation of the Corsican-sardinian islands (Rosenbaum et al,
2002). It consists of marine basins: the Alboran basin, the Algero-Provençal basin, the Valencia
through, the Ligurian sea and the Tyrrhenian basin.
The extensional tectonism of these basins was coeval with orogenesis in the adjacent
mountains chains of the Rif-Betic cordillera, the maghrebides of the northern Africa and Sicily,
the Appenins and the Alps (Auzende et al, 1970).

Fig 1: Structural setting of western Mediterranean Sea


From South to the North Fig 2, there is a relatively narrow continental shelf (15-35kms) with
clear canyon cuts, a continental slope with a steep dipping and the abyssal plain where the
water depth could reach 2800m, corresponding to the Algero-provençal basin in the East,
and to the Eastern Alboran basin to the West (Addoum et al, 2004).
One deep well HBB-1 and two core drills ALG-1 and ARZ-1 were drilled in the western part
(Abderrahim et al, 2005).

Fig 2: Location map with bathymetry and wells


The data consists of 2D seismic in addition to gravity and magnetic. The first seismic survey
was acquired between 1968 and 1969 covering mainly the shelf areas close to shore.
The main deep basin was covered by two regional 2D surveys in 1973 and 1976 and the
coverage was relatively coarse (Sai, 1994).
Between 2000 and 2011, more than 14000km of 2D seismic were shot as in fill to the
previous ones Fig 3.

Fig 3: Seismic 2D data base


The sedimentary section Fig 4 consists mainly of Cenozoic stratigraphy, and three sequence
have been identified in the post rift series of the Algerian Offshore, lower Miocene, middle to
upper Miocene, and the Plio-quaternary.

Summary of play types

Reservoir: - Serravallian-Tortonian turbidite sandstones in HBB-1 (Porosity: 5-15%).

- Oligo-Miocene (Numidian Flychs ?) in the extreme eastern part.
- Lower Pliocene turbidites (Porosity is good).

Source rock: - Miocene shales (TOC could reach 1.5%).

- Serravallian-Tortonian shales.
- Messinian marls in HBB-1 well.

Seal: - Messinian evaporitic (Regional seal).

- Shales and marl levels (Miocene and Pliocene).

Fig 4: Play summary chart, Lithostratigraphy with Reservoir- and Source rocks

The stratigraphic study of HBB-1 well Fig 5 identified three sequences (Anadarko,1998)
showing significant sand intervals in the Miocene (Serravallian) and in the Pliocene.

- Sequence 1: Serravallian (4241-4275m), an important sandstones interval, 33.5m thick,

the porosity is ranged between 2 and 5%.
- Sequence 2: Serravallian (3590-3690m), 110m thick and the average porosity is 10%.
- Sequence 3: Lower Pliocene (1841-1861m), 20m thick with good porosity.

Fig 5: Cenozoic sandstones reservoirs in the Algerian Offshore


Magnetic data:
The magnetic anomalies Fig 6 are obtained from marine survey and the gridding is not
sufficient for detailed studies. They indicate strong anomalies connected with the fault
systems of the continental slope.
The magnetic lows are related to synclines where we have thick sedimentary sections. On
the onshore, there are some metamorphic and volcanic core complex indicating the
possibility of a continuation into the offshore (Khennaf, 2001).

Fig 6: Magnetic map of the Algerian Offshore

Gravity data

On the Bouguer gravity map Fig 7, the negative anomalies in the continental slope indicate
the existence of elongated sedimentary basins. Local highs could correspond to areas
dominated by volcanic material located in the East of HBB-1 well known as “Escarpement
des Habibas”.

Fig 7: Bouguer gravity map of the Algerian Offshore

Seismic data:

All the seismic acquired between 2000 and 2011 was interpreted to enhance the
prospectivity of the pre-messinian deposit.
The seismic quality is fair to good but becomes poor where the Messinian salt is structurally
complex and a reliable interpretation is impossible for the pre-salt horizons.
The intra-Miocene horizon structural map Fig 8 shows three major synclines similar to the
ones outlined in the bouguer and magnetic maps (Khennaf et al, 2005).
- Béjaia syncline, with 6-6.5 km of Miocene to quaternary sediments
- Mostaganem-Ténès Syncline, 5 km of Miocene to quaternary sediments
- Habibas marginal Basin, 4km of Miocene to quaternary sediments.
The synclines are bounded by NE-SW, NW-SE and E-W Faults that control the
sedimentation with an important throw for those situated in the slope.

Mostaganem-Ténès Béjaia Syncline


Habiba Basin

Fig 8: Intra-Miocene horizon structural map

The evaluation of the 2D seismic data has highlighted significant leads with different sizes.
Some can have a large potential, but with the current database they will remain as risked
leads. In fact, these leads are only covered with 2D lines, so there is a lot of uncertainty to
the definition of these structures.
Traps of various styles (anticlines, faulted and tilted blocks, …) are well developed in the
Algerian offshore (Benabdelmoumen et al, 2002), as we can see on seismic Fig 9.

Nord Sud


Sel Méssinien


Fig 9: Trap examples within the Miocene

Béjaia transect Fig 10

This transect is situated in Béjaia Syncline and has a North-South direction. The sedimentary
section thickness is decreasing to the North (Slimane et al, 2000).
The sequence interpreted is:
- A regular Plio-quaternary layer with variable thickness.
- An evaporitc messinian sequence with top surface irregular by diapirism and salt
domes especially in the deepest part
- A pre-messinian sedimentary sequence, probably at least as old as Middle Miocene,
resting on the basement
- A tilted blocs could be seen on this transect, they could be good traps for

Fig 10: North-South transect on the Béjaia Syncline

Transect of Habibas Fig 11

A North-South transect situated in Habibas Basin crossing the HBB-1 well. We can see:
- Syn-rift neogene sedimentation with graben and half graben configuration
- Different kind of traps (anticlines, faulted and tilted blocks, …).
- Acoustic basement high correspond to volcanic substratum
- The evaporitc messinian sequence is absent and becomes marly in this basin.

Fig 11: North-South transect on the Habibas Basin


The Algerian offshore is under explored, with only two core drills and one deep well drilled on
the shelf. The area consists of larges structural closures. These leads require additional seismic
data to be properly defined and they have messinian salt layer as a top seal.
Several reservoirs in Cenozoic stratigraphy have been proven and produce in nearby onshore
basin (Chellif basin).
The key is acquiring new 3D seismic data and utilizing the available 2D seismic data with its
direct hydrocarbon indicators and amplitude anomalies to unlock the potential reserves.


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