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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 87, No. 2 (February 2003), P. 231-250.

Copyright ©2003. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Three-dimensional structural model of the Rhourde el Baguel field, Algeria

Shankar Mitra,1 William Leslie2

1School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, 810 Sarkeys Energy Center, 100 East Boyd Street, Norman, Oklahoma, 73019; email: [email protected]
2ARCO International Oil and Gas Company, 2300 W. Plano Parkway, Plano, Texas, 75075; current address: RamTech Holdings Inc., 5240 Tennyson Parkway, Plano, Texas, 75024


Shankar Mitra holds the Victor E. Monnett Chair in Energy Resources at the University of Oklahoma. He received his Ph.D. in structural geology from Johns Hopkins University in 1977. He spent 19 years in research and exploration at ARCO Exploration and Production Company and at ARCO International Oil and Gas Company. His research interests are in developing structural concepts and methods for interpretation of complex structures. He is a recipient of AAPG's Wallace Pratt and Cam Sproule awards.

William Leslie is currently senior geophysical advisor for RamTech Holdings, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. He has been working on exploration projects in offshore India since 2000. Prior to joining RamTech, he spent 12 years with ARCO in Alaska and at ARCO's international headquarters in Plano, Texas. From 1996 to 1998, William was development geophysicist in the Rhourde el Baguel Engineering and Geoscience Group in Plano. He received his B.S. degree in applied geophysics from University of California, Los Angeles and his Ph.D. in geophysics from the Colorado School of Mines.


This article is based on a structural study of the Rhourde el Baguel field conducted at ARCO. We thank Sonarco, Sonatrach, and ARCO for supporting this study and releasing the results for publication. AAPG reviewers Chris Zahm, Charles Kluth, and John Shaw offered many helpful suggestions. We are also indebted to our colleagues Smail Chouabi, Jim Lorsong, Steve Moore, Bob Woodward, and Eric Radjef for their contributions and insights during the course of the project. Bruno Vendeville provided the experimental model of a reactive diapir above a normal fault. Nimio Tristan and Don Medwedeff assisted in digitizing cross sections and transporting data into GOCAD. Wally Lozano and Steve Miyazaki assisted in drafting many of the figures. Funding for the publication of this article was provided by the Monnett Foundation at the University of Oklahoma.


The Rhourde el Baguel field, located in the Ghadames basin, is one of the largest oil fields in Algeria. It produces oil from fractured Cambrian sandstones at subsea depths of 2300–3070 m. The structure is reinterpreted as a compressive fold related to two reverse faults, which cut and deform a preexisting normal fault. The structure formed during three main episodes of deformation: (1) Triassic to Liassic extension resulting in normal faults having significant throw; (2) Middle Jurassic flowage of Liassic salt, resulting in low-amplitude structures in this unit; and (3) Austrian (Early Cretaceous) compression resulting in a basement-involved fault-propagation fold. The revised structural model explains the complex fault patterns and anomalous thickness variations of units observed in a number of deep wells on the west flank of the structure. The model has been used to sidetrack some existing deep wells into locations within the field and to optimize the location of new wells in the field.

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