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Geoscientist Online

Petroleum Geoscience of the West Africa Margin

dfkghdfjgThis new volume represents an excellent snapshot of the state of affairs in petroleum exploration across the entire margin of West Africa. It is well edited and the individual contributions are of a very high technical standard. It is the nature of Special Publications that they assume a considerable pre-knowledge of an area or subject, they are not introductory textbooks. As such, only certain elements will be useful to those seeking a primer to the area.

As with most of these volumes, the production started as a successful Burlington House conference. The subsequent oil industry downturn obviously had a strong impact on the conversion of conference presentations to published chapters. It is a shame, although understandable, that further authors couldn’t contribute as it would have been beneficial to see additional material on areas such as Nigeria and Guinea Bissau. Moreover, the topic focus is firmly on tectonics and exploration scale problems with the notable absence of production scale geology. The smaller set of papers also means that some geographical continuity is missing between, for example, Mauritania and Sierra Leone. The upside is that the smaller set of contributions maintain a very high standard and the editors should be highly praised for bringing together a set of papers for a successful publication in difficult circumstances.

The research presented is, considering the large area covered, broad ranging - from oddball lithofacies in Ghana to extensional structures in South Africa. Particular highlights are subjective but include an excellent integrated overview of the underpublished Douala Basin, Equatorial Guinea. An excellent summary of the link between the lacustrine deposits of the South Atlantic conjugate margins is also offered.  Finally, an interesting take on Proterozoic petroleum plays in Mauritania demonstrates the broad range of risks and uncertainties involved in chasing such concepts. One small quibble is that the papers are printed in a different order to that suggested in the introduction.  It is not clear if this was deliberate, but it does not detract seriously from the whole.

This volume gives an excellent feel for the zeitgeist in West African hydrocarbon exploration, which will be valuable as the industry gears up for the next cycle. Alongside extra supporting material, such as the online conference abstracts, this makes for a very useful resource.

Reviewed by Ben Kilhams

PETROLEUM GEOSCIENCE OF THE WEST AFRICA MARGIN edited by T SABATO-CERALDI, R A HODGKINSON  AND G BACKE, 2017. Published by the Geological Society of London, ISBN: 9781786202437, List Price:  £ 90.00, Fellows Price:  £ 45.00, W: www.geolsoc.org.uk/SP438