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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 87, No. 6 (June 2003),

P. 1015-1030.

Copyright copy2003. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Episodic growth of normal faults as recorded by syntectonic sediments, July oil field, Suez rift, Egypt

David A. Pivnik,1 Mohamed Ramzy,2 Brad L. Steer,3 Jay Thorseth,4 Zarif El Sisi,5 Ihab Gaafar,6 John D. Garing,7 Robert S. Tucker8

1BP/Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company, Palestine Street, New Maadi, Cairo, Egypt; email: [email protected]
2Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company, Palestine Street, New Maadi, Cairo, Egypt; email: [email protected]
3BP America Production Company, 501 Westlake Park Blvd., Houston, Texas; email: [email protected]
4BP/Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company, Palestine Street, New Maadi, Cairo, Egypt; email: [email protected]
5Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company, Palestine Street, New Maadi, Cairo, Egypt; email: [email protected]
6Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company, Palestine Street, New Maadi, Cairo, Egypt; email: [email protected]
7BP Exploration, P.O. Box 196612, 900 E. Benson Boulevard, Anchorage, Alaska, 99519; email: [email protected]
8Tobin International, Ltd., 1625 Broadway, Denver, Colorado; email: [email protected]


Dave Pivnik holds degrees in geology from the State University of New York, Fredonia (B.S., 1985), University of Rochester (M.S., 1988), and Dartmouth College (Ph.D., 1992). He has been with BP (formerly Amoco) since 1993. His research and exploration efforts have focused on syntectonic sedimentary rocks in compressional, extensional, and strike-slip basins. He has been exploring for hydrocarbons in the Suez rift since 1997.

Mohamed Ramzy holds a B.S. degree in geology from Alexandria University (1978). He has been with GUPCO, Amoco, and BP since 1981 as an exploration and development geologist. His research and exploration work has focused on the distribution, characterization, and deformation of prerift and synrift sedimentary rocks in the Suez rift.

Brad Steer holds degrees in geology from San Diego State University (M.S., 1979), University of Utah (B.S., 1976), and University of Northern Colorado (B.A., 1974). He has been with BP (formerly Amoco) since 1980. He has worked in numerous basins, including the Suez rift, Egypt, the Columbus basin, Trinidad, and, currently, the Arkoma basin, Oklahoma.

Jay Thorseth holds a B.S. degree in geophysics (1986) and an M.B.A. (1988) from the University of Utah. He has been with BP (formerly Amoco) since 1988. He has exploration and development experience in the United States, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Egypt. He has been exploring for hydrocarbons in the Suez rift since 1997 and is currently an exploration team leader.

Zarif El Sisi holds degrees in geology from Alexandria University (B.S., 1980) and sedimentology from Cairo University (M.S., 1998). He has worked for GUPCO and BP since 1984 as a sedimentologist and petrologist. His work focuses on diagenesis, hydrocarbon shows, depositional environments, sequence stratigraphy, and reservoir characterization in the Suez rift, Egyptian western desert, and Nile Delta.

Ihab Gaafar holds a degree in geochemistry (B.Sc., 1979), from Al Azhar University. He has been with GUPCO since 1979 as a biostratigrapher and has worked extensively with the BP (formerly Amoco) biostratigraphy group. His exploration and research work has focused on establishing and utilizing biostratigraphic composite standards in the Suez rift and Nile Delta for chronostratigraphic and paleoenvironmental interpretations.

John Garing is currently a subsurface development team leader for BP in Anchorage, Alaska in the United States. He has worked for BP (formerly Amoco) since 1982 in Egypt and the western United States in exploration, development, and geophysical research. He received a B.S. degree in geological engineering from Princeton University in 1980 and an M.S. degree in geophysics from Stanford University in 1982.

Bob Tucker holds degrees in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (B.S.) and San Diego State University (M.S.) and a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Colorado, Denver. He worked for BP (formerly Amoco) as a development geologist in the Gulf of Suez for 5 years. He is currently a Geographic Information System software development quality-assurance engineer.


This paper is dedicated to the memory of Ken Loos, a first-class explorationist and friend. The manuscript benefited greatly from reviews by W. Wescott, E. Mancini, and M. Pranter and early reviews by Tim Marchant, John Dolson, and Rob Gawthorpe. We acknowledge the work of current and previous geoscientists at the Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company (GUPCO), which greatly enhanced our understanding of the Suez rift. We thank GUPCO and BP for the support in writing the manuscript.


The July oil field is a major normal-fault–bounded structural block in the Suez rift basin, Egypt. It is adjacent to a major structural transfer zone, which has controlled sediment influx to the rift basin center for the past 20 m.y. The lower to middle Miocene Upper Rudeis Formation, part of the synrift stratigraphic sequence, records deformation of the July structural block. The formation contains abrupt lateral changes in thickness and facies, which record earlier phases of fault movement and deformation in the July field area that do not conform to the present-day structural configuration.

The Upper Rudeis Formation was deposited as turbidites in a submarine-fan system sourced from the western rift shoulder. It was deposited over and around bathymetric highs created by coeval fault displacement in the July field area. By studying thickness and facies patterns, we have determined that the present-day main bounding fault to the July block consisted of a series of unlinked fault segments, which linked after Upper Rudeis deposition. A subsidiary fault west of the block exerted the most control on thickness patterns, not the present-day main bounding fault. Thus, commonly used models of deposition in active half grabens are difficult to apply at July field.

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