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Eocene nummulite accumulations, also referred to as nummulite "banks", form important hydrocarbon reservoirs in Tunisia and Libya and may constitute exploration targets in other parts of North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Porosities commonly average 10-20% and permeabilities 10-50md. Foraminifera of the genus Nummulites may comprise up to 98% of the bioclasts in these carbonate reservoirs, although only one or two species may be present. The absence of associated fauna is generally taken to indicate an oligotrophic depositional environment.
In this paper, the palaeoecology of the genus Nummulites is discussed together with depositional models for two nummulitic carbonate reservoirs -- the Middle Eocene Seeb Limestone of Oman and the Lower Eocene El Garia/Jdeir Formation of Tunisia and Libya. The El Garia and Seeb Limestone Formations were deposited in ramp settings, and comprise a series of amalgamated sheets or low-relief banks. In the Hasdrubal field offshore Tunisia, where the El Garia Formation constitutes the reservoir rock, most of the nummulites have been redeposited from shallow into deeper waters whilst in the Bourri field (offshore Libya) they occur as an in situ "bank".
Nummulite accumulations often show evidence that both physical reworking (scouring, winnowing and imbrication) and biological processes (reproduction strategies and bioturbation) have influenced their formation. A general model is outlined for discriminating between physically and ecologically produced biofabrics, and the implications for reservoir quality are discussed.