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The structural and stratigraphic history of the Cyrenaican platform of eastern Libya is closely related to that of both the Sirte basin and the Western Desert of Egypt. At the end of the Paleozoic Hercynian orogeny, this area comprised the eastern end of the Sirte arch, the precursor of the Sirte basin. When the arch collapsed in the mid-Cretaceous, initiating the Sirte basin, the Cyrenaican area remained relatively high. A northwest-southeast trending high, the Gabboub arch, formed on the platform in the early Mesozoic, dividing the region into three areas: the high itself, a deep on the southwestern flank related to the Sirte basin, and a deep on the northeastern flank, which plunges into the offshore and appears to relate to the downwarped offshore area of the Western esert of Egypt.
Sediments of every age, except Triassic, are found in Cyrenaica. Paleozoic sediments are composed primarily of quartzitic sandstones and shales with lesser amounts of limestone, dolomites, and anhydrites.
Mesozoic sediments are a mixture of clastics and carbonates. Cenozoic sediments are predominantly limestones, dolomites, and anhydrites with some sandstones and shales. Environments of deposition range from continental to deep marine.
The Cyrenaican area has not been heavily explored and, until recently, no commercial hydrocarbons were found. Drilling on surface structures of some of the first wells in Libya resulted in one Devonian gas well. A reported 5,600 BOPD Cretaceous discovery offshore Benghazi in mid-1984 demonstrates that hydrocarbon potential exists where thick sediments have been preserved.
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