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. 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 deep-water area of the Congo Basin.
Although many total petroleum systems may exist in the West-Central Coastal Province, only four major total petroleum systems have been defined. The area of the province north of the Congo Basin contains two total petroleum systems: the Melania-Gamba Total Petroleum System, consisting of Lower Cretaceous source and reservoir rocks, and the Azile-Senonian Total Petroleum System, consisting of Albian to Turonian source rocks and Cretaceous reservoir rocks. Two assessment units are defined in the West-Central Coastal Province north of the Congo Basin: the Gabon Subsalt and the Gabon Suprasalt Assessment Units. The Congo Basin contains the Congo Delta Composite Total Petroleum System, consisting of Lower Cretaceous to Tertiary source and reservoir rocks. The Central Congo Delta and Carbonate Platform and the Central Congo Turbidites Assessment Units are defined in the Congo Delta Composite Total Petroleum System. The area south of the Congo Basin contains the Cuanza Composite Total Petroleum System, consisting of Lower Cretaceous to Tertiary source and reservoir rocks. The Cuanza-Namibe Assessment Unit is defined in the Cuanza Composite Total Petroleum System. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessed the potential for undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources in this province as part of its World Petroleum Assessment 2000. The USGS estimated a mean of 29.7 billion barrels of undiscovered conventional oil, 88.0 trillion cubic feet of gas, and 4.2 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. Most of the hydrocarbon potential remains in the offshore waters of the province in the Central Congo Turbidites Assessment Unit.
Large areas of the offshore parts of the Kwanza, Douala, Kribi-Campo, and Rio Muni Basins are underexplored, considering their size, and current exploration activity suggests that the basins have hydrocarbon potential. Since about 1995, the offshore part of the Congo Basin has become a major area for new field discoveries and for hydrocarbon exploration, and many deeper water areas in the basin have excellent hydrocarbon potential. Gas resources may be significant and accessible in areas where the zone of oil generation is relatively shallow.
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USGS Numbered Series
Geology and total petroleum systems of the West-Central Coastal province (7203), West Africa