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This overview of the petroleum geology of rift basins in Niger, Chad, and Central African Republic (CAR) is based on exploration work by Exxon and partners in the years 1969-1991. The work included 50,000 km of modern reflection seismic, 53 exploration wells, 1,000,000 km2 of aeromagnetic coverage, and about 10,500 km of gravity profiles. The results outline ten Cretaceous and Tertiary rift basins, which constitute a major part of the West and Central African rift system (WCARS). The rift basins derive from a multiphased geologic history dating from the Pan-African (approximately 750-550 Ma) to the Holocene. Main rifting was probably caused by the stretching and subsidence of African crustal blocks during the breakup of Gondwana in the Early Cretaceous and by r activated plate movements in the early Tertiary.
WCARS in the study area is divided into the West African rift subsystem (WAS) and the Central African rift subsystem (CAS). WAS basins in Niger and Chad are chiefly extensional, and are filled by up to 13,000 m of Lower Cretaceous to Holocene continental and marine clastics. The basins contain five oil (19-43°API) and two oil and gas accumulations in Upper Cretaceous and Eocene sandstone reservoirs. The hydrocarbons are sourced and sealed by Upper Cretaceous and Eocene marine and lacustrine shales. The most common structural styles and hydrocarbon traps usually are associated with normal fault blocks.
CAS rift basins in Chad and CAR are extensional and transtensional, and are filled by up to 7500 m of chiefly Lower Cretaceous continental clastics. The basins contain eight oil (15-39°API) and one oil and gas discovery in Lower and Upper Cretaceous sandstone reservoirs. The hydrocarbons are sourced by Lower Cretaceous shales and sealed by interbedded lacustrine and flood-plain shales. Structural styles range from simple fault blocks through complex flower structures. The main hydrocarbon traps are in contractional anticlines.
Geological conditions favor the discovery of potentially commercial volumes of oil in WCARS basins of Niger, Chad and CAR.
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