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Tari, Gabor, Haddou Jabour, Jim Molnar, David Valasek, and Mahmoud Zizi, 2012, Deep-water exploration in Atlantic Morocco: Where are the reservoirs, in D. Gao, ed., Tectonics and sedimentation: Implications for petroleum systems: AAPG Memoir 100, p. 337355.


Copyright copy2012 by The American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Deep-water Exploration in Atlantic Morocco: Where Are the Reservoirs?

Gabor Tari,1 Haddou Jabour,2 Jim Molnar,3 David Valasek,4 Mahmoud Zizi5

1OMV Exploration and Production GmbH, Trabennstrasse 6-8, A-1020, Vienna, Austria (e-mail: [email protected])
2Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines, 34 Ave. Al Fadila, 10050, Rabat, Morocco (e-mail: [email protected])
3707 Queensmill Ct., Houston, Texas, 77079, U.S.A. (e-mail: [email protected])
4Statoil, 2103 Citywest Blvd., Houston, Texas, 77042, U.S.A. (e-mail: [email protected])
5Ziz Geoconsulting, 47 Ave. Fall Oumeir Agdal, Rabat, Morocco (e-mail: [email protected])


We thank Albert Bally and Mohamad Hafid for the very helpful discussions on the geology of Morocco. We also thank the help and support of our colleagues at Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines, Rabat, Morocco. We also thank Katrina Coterill, Marek Kaminski, Charlton Miller, and Eva Moldovanyi, our former colleagues at Vanco Energy Company, Houston, Texas. The biostratigraphic and sequence-stratigraphic subdivision of the Shark B-1 well was done by TimeTrax. The chronostratigraphic framework for the offshore Morocco wells was mostly compiled by Robert Sawyer. We thank Michael Sweet for his helpful and constructive comments on the first draft of this paper and Dengliang Gao for his editorial patience.


The Moroccan salt basin remains one of the least explored of the west African salt basins. Although small producing fields in the onshore Essaouira Basin exist, so far, only subcommercial discoveries on the shelf have been made. During the last decade, three exploration wells were drilled in the deep water between Essaouira and Tarfaya in the central segment of the Atlantic margin of Morocco. These wells documented a general lack of reservoir-facies siliciclastics within the Cenozoic and Upper Cretaceous deep-water sequence.

Compared to the other segments of the Atlantic margin, the Moroccan margin has had a fairly complex structural history since the Middle Jurassic breakup between the North American–African plates involving several well-documented Alpine compressional periods and mountain building in the adjacent Atlas Mountains. In particular, as the Neogene–Holocene inversion, uplift, and erosion of the Atlas system is very well documented onshore, the apparent lack of Upper Cretaceous and Cenozoic reservoirs in the first deep-water wells came as a surprise. Therefore, reservoir presence, as the most critical risk factor in the deep-water exploration of the Moroccan Atlantic margin, needs to be better understood before new exploration wells can be drilled. Based on regional evidence, the Lower Cretaceous and the Jurassic sequences are interpreted to be significantly more sand prone in the deep-water areas than the overlying Upper Cretaceous and Cenozoic strata.

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