J.M. Anketell* and I.Y. Mriheel**
*Department of Earth Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL.
**Petroleum Research Centre, Tripoli, Libya.
The late Ypresian (early Eocene) Jdeir Formation was deposited in the Mesozoic-Cenozoic Gabes-Tripoli Basin, offshore Libya. The basin developed on the northern passive margin of the African Plate and was relatively unstable being affected by syn-sedimentary tectonic movements. Deposition was coeval with a relative rise of sea-level and the subsequent highstand. A lower, thinly-developed nummulitic bank facies with restricted distribution records the transgressive event and is succeeded by more micritic sediments that record the time of maximum flooding. The succeeding sea-level highstand is represented by a thick, and widely developed, progradational-aggradational nummulitic sequence that displays lateral changes across WNE-ESE trending facies belts.
Three major lithofacies are recognised in the Jdeir Formation: Nummulites packstone-grainstone, Alveolina-Orbitolites wackestone-packstone, and Fragmental-Discocyclina-Assilina wackestone-packstone, deposited in bank, back-bank, and fore-bank environments, respectively. The formation passes to the NNE into the pelagic lithofacies of the Hallab Formation; landward, to the south, it passes into shoreline evaporitic facies of the Taljah Formation. The lithofacies were structurally controlled by contemporaneous and/or syndepositional tectonic movements, with nummulitic facies tending to develop on uplifted areas.
Petrographic and petrophysical studies indicate that porosity in the Jdeir Formation is controlled by depositional environment, tectonic setting and diagenesis. The combined effects of salt tectonics, a major unconformity at the top of the formation and meteoric diagenesis have produced excellent-quality reservoir facies at the Bouri oilfield and in other areas.
Porosity is highest in the nummulitic bank facies and lowest in the Alveolina -Orbitolites micrite facies. Good to excellent reservoir quality occurs in the upper part of the nummulitic packstone-grainstone facies, especially where these sediments overlie structurally high areas. High rates of dissolution found at the crests of domes and anticlines suggest that early diagenetic processes and features are, in part, structurally controlled. Future exploration success will depend on investigation of similar structures within the Gabes-Tripoli Basin.
Both porosity initiation and preservation are related to early depositional and diagenetic processes. The wide time-gap between hydrocarbon generation and reservoir formation points to the role of the seal in porosity preservation and rules out the assumption that early emplacement of oil had preserved the porosity.