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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 87, No. 4 (April 2003), P. 541-560.

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

Prolific deep-marine slope channels of the Nile Delta, Egypt

Andy Samuel,1 Ben Kneller,2 Samir Raslan,3 Andy Sharp,4 Cormac Parsons5

1BG Group, 100 Thames Valley Park Drive, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 1PT, England, United Kingdom; email: [email protected]
2Institute for Crustal Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, 93106; email: [email protected]
3Rashid Petroleum Company, 18 Road 293, New Maadi, Cairo, Egypt; email: [email protected]
4Shell UK Exploration and Production, 1 Altens Farm Road, Nigg, Aberdeen, AB12 3FY, Scotland, United Kingdom; email: [email protected]
5Baker Atlas, 14 Road 280, New Maadi, Cairo, Egypt; present address: Baker Atlas Geoscience, Via Angelo Moro 109, San Donato, Milan, 20097, Italy; email: [email protected]


Andy Samuel obtained his B.A. degree at the University of Cambridge and his Ph.D. at the University of London. He has been working for BG Group since 1995 on United Kingdom, Trinidadian, and Brazilian assets and completed a 3-year posting in Cairo as exploration geologist where he extended his interest in deep-marine processes. He is currently working as development geologist on BG Group's operated central North Sea fields.

Ben Kneller obtained his B.Sc. degree from the University of Sheffield and his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen. He was formerly on the faculty at the University of Leeds, where he initiated and, for 7 years, led the Turbidites Research Group. He is now a researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has applied a combination of traditional facies-based field studies, experimental work, and theory to turbidite-process sedimentology. He regularly consults and teaches short courses for industry.

Samir Raslan is the geology section head at Rashid Petroleum. He obtained his B.Sc. degree from the Cairo Faculty of Science and his M.Sc. degree in geomorphology and hydrogeology from Manofia University. Prior to working for Rashid Petroleum, he worked for Zaafarana Oil from 1995 to 1997. He is currently completing his Ph.D. on high-resolution sequence stratigraphy of the Pliocene of the northwestern offshore Nile Delta.

Andy Sharp received his B.Sc. degree in physics and electronics from Salford University in 1990, his M.Sc. degree in geophysics from Birmingham University in 1991, and his Ph.D. in geophysics from Reading University in 1994. From 1994 to 2001, he worked for BG Group on North Sea, Pakistani, Tunisian, and Egyptian assets. In 2001, he joined Shell Expro where he is currently working on North Sea field development projects.

Cormac Parsons is a geologist in Baker Atlas Geoscience. He received his B.Sc. degree from University College Galway and his M.Sc. degree in petroleum geoscience from the University of Aberdeen. He joined Z&S Geoscience (now Baker Atlas Geoscience) in Aberdeen in 1997. In 1999, he transferred to Cairo and is currently assigned in Milan, Italy, where he continues to work on borehole-image interpretation in the deep-water Nile Delta.


The authors thank Rashid Petroleum, BG Group, and Edison Gas for permission to publish this article. The article has been based on a significant amount of work that has been carried out on the West Delta Deep Marine Concession since it was awarded in 1995. In particular, Magdi Abd el Hay, John Alderton, George Bertram, Sarah Brazier, Pete Charalambides, Ady Crawford, Rob Cook, Greig Cowan, Martin Dearlove, Andrew Deighan, Dave Dickson, Francesco Federici, Martin Hardman, Colin Harwood, Roger Heath, Niall Hoey, Hussein Hussein, Antony Lewis, John Millington, Rick Moore, Ramadan Ramadan, Jo Reader, Colette Sanderson, Mark Simmons, Andrea Sitta, Nick Steel, John Summers, and Tamarat Worku are acknowledged for their considerable input. We thank Stuart Burley for his help and critique in the preparation of this article, the AAPG reviewers Roger Block, Charles Winker, and Terrilyn Olson, and AAPG editor John Lorenz for their very constructive comments.


The Nile Delta offshore is rapidly emerging as a major gas province. High-quality three-dimensional (3-D) seismic data, coupled with data from 13 consecutive successful deep-water exploration and appraisal wells, have highlighted clear phases of erosion and deposition within the upper Pliocene deep-marine slope channels. The gross reservoir architecture is spectacularly imaged by 3-D seismic techniques, both in time sections and through a variety of amplitude extractions, while an extensive program of core and wire-line log acquisition and analysis has enabled high-resolution definition of the channel-fill sediments. The channels were initiated by the introduction of coarse sediments to the shelf edge possibly at times of relative sea level fall. Initially, there was significant erosion, especially in areas up depositional dip, creating what we term slope valleys. Subsequent valley infill commonly commenced with debris flows, slumps, and slides, sometimes overlying basal, bypass-related sands, and progressed to amalgamated or stacked channels in packages of upward-decreasing net-to-gross sand ratios. This pattern was commonly repeated following reincision, which may have occurred several times. The different stages of channel development can be considered in terms of slope equilibrium with a reduction in slope gradient promoted by increases in flow size and density and decreases in grain size.

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