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West Africa Presents Petroleum Opportunities for E&P

Geology of West Africa

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Geology of West Africa

Petroleum Geology of West Africa


Exploration and Production (E&P) projects have discovered major oil and gas fields in continental margin systems in areas such as the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, offshore South America and offshore Africa. Other areas also include The Santos, Campos and Espirito Santo basins off the coast of Brazil that contain high-volume oil discoveries, as well as across the Atlantic to offshore western Africa.


Geography of West Africa

The West-Central Coastal Province of the Sub-Saharan Africa Region consists of the coastal and offshore areas of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Angola (including the disputed Cabinda Province), and Namibia.

The area stretches from the east edge of the Niger Delta south to the Walvis Ridge. The West-Central Coastal Province includes the Douala, Kribi-Campo, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Kwanza, Benguela, and Namibe Basins, which together form the Aptian salt basin of equatorial west Africa.


Exploration for Petroleum

The area has had significant exploration for petroleum; more than 295 oil fields have been discovered since 1954. Since 1995, several giant oil fields have been discovered, especially in the deepwater area of the Congo Basin.


Petroleum Occurrence in the West

Central Coastal Province Hydrocarbons have been found both onshore and offshore in several formations in the West-Central Coastal Province. The best-understood hydrocarbon occurrences in the province are in Cretaceous and Tertiary reservoirs in the Douala, KribiCampo, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, and Kwanza Basins.


Hydrocarbon Generation and Migration in the West-Central Coastal Province

Oil generation has been active in the Aptian salt basin from the Late Cretaceous to the present while the sedimentary depocenters, sites of hydrocarbon generation, and charging systems have shifted westward through time as the western African continental margin prograded westward.


The West-Central Coastal Province is estimated to have a huge wealth of undiscovered resources. The West-Central Coastal Province is still one of the largest in the World Petroleum Assessment 2000 and the second largest in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

Most of this undiscovered resource is offshore, and much of it is in the deeper water part of the Central Congo Turbidites Assessment Unit. The cumulative known oil volume has more than doubled in the province since 1995 (Petroconsultants, 1996; IHS Energy Group, 2004), when the western part of equatorial Africa became a deep-water hydrocarbon province.

New field discoveries and higher resolution and three-dimensional seismic studies since the USGS assessment of the province have led to an increase in exploration in all the subbasins in the West-Central Coastal Province.

Large offshore parts of the Kwanza, Douala, and Rio Muni Basins are underexplored and contain many potential prospects. The province has hydrocarbon potential in both onshore and offshore parts, but the greatest potential is in the deep-water parts of the province. Gas resources may be significant and accessible in areas where the zone of oil generation is relatively shallow.


Source: Brownfield, M.E., and Charpentier, R.R., 2006, Geology and total petroleum systems of the West-Central Coastal Province (7203), West Africa: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2207-B, 52 p.


To learn more about the geology and petroleum systems of West Africa, United States Geological Survey (USGS) has provided the report as part of the World Energy Project. The report is intended to assess the quantities of oil, gas, and natural gas liquids that have the potential to be added to reserves within the next 30 years. The in-depth report covers topics such as West-Central Coastal Province Geology, the types of hydrocarbon source rocks, total petroleum systems, with location maps and more.

Click below to download your free report
Geology and Total Petroleum Systems of the West-Central Coastal Province (7203), West Africa” 

Geology and Total Petroleum Systems of the West-Central Coastal Province, West Africa Cover

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