F. El-Khatri1, M.A.K. El-Ghali2*, H. Mansurbeg3, S. Morad4,5, N. Ogle6 and R.M. Kalin6

1 Libyan Petroleum Institute, Km 7, Gergarish Road, PO Box 6431, Tripoli, Libya.

2 Department of Earth Sciences, College of Science, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 36,  Al-Khodh 123, Sultanate of Oman.

3 Department of Petroleum Geosciences, Faculty of Sciences, Soran University, Soran, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.

4 Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden.

5 Department of Petroleum Geoscience, the Petroleum Institute, PO Box 2533, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

6 Environmental Engineering Research Centre, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast.

* Corresponding author, email: melghali@squ.edu.om

Lower Cretaceous meandering and braided fluvial sandstones of the Nubian Formation form some of the most important subsurface reservoir rocks in the Sirt Basin, north-central Libya. Mineralogical, petrographical and geochemical analyses of sandstone samples from well BB6-59, Sarir oilfield, indicate that the meandering fluvial sandstones are fine- to very fine-grained subarkosic arenites (av. Q91F5L4), and that braided fluvial sandstones are medium- to very coarse-grained quartz arenites (av. Q96F3L1). The reservoir qualities of these sandstones were modified during both eodiagenesis (ca. <70oC; <2 km) and mesodiagenesis (ca. >70oC; >2 km). Reservoir quality evolution was controlled primarily by the dissolution and kaolinitization of feldspars, micas and mud intraclasts during eodiagenesis, and by the amount and thickness of grain-coating clays, chemical compaction and quartz overgrowths during mesodiagenesis. However, dissolution and kaolinitization of feldspars, micas and mud intraclasts resulted in the creation of intercrystalline micro- and mouldic macro-porosity and permeability during eodiagenesis, which were more widespread in braided fluvial than in meandering fluvial sandstones. This was because of the greater depositional porosity and permeability in the braided fluvial sandstones which enhanced percolation of meteoric waters. The development of only limited quartz overgrowths in the braided fluvial sandstones, in which quartz grains are coated by thick illite layers, retained high porosity and permeability (12-23 % and 30-600 mD). By contrast, meandering fluvial sandstones underwent porosity loss as a result of quartz overgrowth development on quartz grains which lack or have thin and incomplete grain-coating illite (2-15 % and 0-0.1mD). Further loss of porosity in the meandering fluvial sandstones occurred as a result of chemical compaction (pressure dissolution) induced by the occurrence of micas along grains contacts. Other diagenetic alterations, such as the growth of pyrite, siderite, dolomite/ankerite and albitization, had little impact on reservoir quality. The albitization of feldspars may have had minor positive influence on reservoir quality through the creation of intercrystalline micro-porosity between albite crystals.

The results of this study show that diagenetic modifications of the braided and meandering fluvial sandstones in the Nubian Formation, and resulting changes in reservoir quality, are closely linked to depositional porosity and permeability.  They are also linked to the thickness of grain-coating infiltrated clays, and to variations in detrital composition, particularly the amounts of mud intraclasts, feldspars and mica grains as well as climatic conditions.

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