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Assessment of undiscovered hydrocarbon resources of sub-Saharan Africa

March 10, 2016

Introduction

The main objective of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National and Global Petroleum Assessment Project is to assess the potential for undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources of the United States and the world (U.S. Geological Survey World Conventional Resources Assessment Team, 2012). The USGS updated assessments that were completed during the USGS World Petroleum Assessment 2000 (U.S. Geological Survey World Energy Assessment Team, 2000) and conducted new assessments in areas around the world that were not previously examined (U.S. Geological Survey World Conventional Resources Assessment Team, 2012). These assessments used the latest geology-based assessment methodology for conventional oil and gas resources. The new assessments are available at the USGS website, (http://energy.usgs.gov/OilGas/AssessmentsData/WorldPetroleumAssessment.aspx).

As part of this project, the USGS assessed 13 geologic provinces located in sub-Saharan Africa (U.S. Geological Survey World Conventional Resources Assessment Team, 2012). Coastal provinces were extended offshore to water depths ranging from 2,000 to 4,000 meters (m). Within these 13 geologic provinces 18 assessment units (figs. 1, 2) were identified.

The west Africa provinces are (1) the Senegal, containing the passive-margin Senegal Basin of Middle Jurassic to Holocene age; (2) the West African Coastal, characterized by rift, passive-margin, and transform tectonics; (3) the Gulf of Guinea, characterized by transform tectonics; (4) the Niger Delta, containing more than 9,100 m of sedimentary rock and recent sediments; (5) the West-Central Coastal, which contains the Aptian salt basin, is dominated by both rift and sag tectonics, and includes the Congo Basin; and (6) the Orange River Coastal, containing more than 7,000 m of syn-rift and post-rift sedimentary rock. The West African Coastal Province was assessed for the first time, whereas the other five west Africa provinces were reassessed for the 2012 World Oil and Wandrey Gas Resource Assessment (fig. 1 of U.S. Geological Survey World Conventional Resources Assessment Team, 2012). More than 275 new oil and gas fields have been discovered in the six west Africa provinces (IHS Energy, 2008, 2009) since the USGS World Petroleum Assessment in 2000 (U.S. Geological Survey World Energy Assessment Team, 2000). These provinces were assessed because of increased energy exploration activity and new oil and gas discoveries within the provinces.

Seven provinces not assessed as part of the World Petroleum Assessment 2000 (U.S. Geological Survey World Energy Assessment Team, 2000) were assessed by the USGS as part of the World Assessment 2012 (U.S. Geological Survey World Conventional Resources Assessment Team, 2012). These provinces are (1) the Chad Province, containing Cretaceous and Cenozoic-age lacustrine, continental, and minor marine rocks; (2) the Sud Province, containing Cretaceous and Paleogene age lacustrine, continental, and minor marine rocks; (3) the South Africa Coastal Province, which contains rift, transform, and passive-margin rocks; (4) the Mozambique Coastal Province, containing rift, drift, and passive-margin rocks; (5) the Morondava Province, which contains failed rift, drift, and passive-margin rocks; (6) the Tanzania Coastal Province, containing rift, drift, and passive-margin rocks; and (7) the Seychelles Province, which contains rift and drift rocks. At the time of this assessment 157 oil and gas fields had been discovered in the seven provinces (IHS Energy, 2009). These provinces were assessed because of increased interest and new oil and gas discoveries within the provinces.

The assessment was geology-based and used the total petroleum system (TPS) concept. The geologic elements of a TPS are hydrocarbon source rocks (source rock maturation and hydrocarbon generation and migration), reservoir rocks (quality and distribution), and traps where hydrocarbon accumulates. Using these geologic criteria, 16 conventional total petroleum systems and 18 assessment units in the 13 provinces were defined. The undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources were assessed for all assessment units.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Assessment of undiscovered hydrocarbon resources of sub-Saharan Africa
DOI 10.3133/ds69GG
Authors Michael E. Brownfield
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Data Series
Series Number 69
Index ID ds69GG
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Energy Resources Science Center