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FRANCE: SEDIMENTARY BASINS (source: Teper - Wikipedia)

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For its production of hydrocarbons, France has some 60 oil and gas fields in operation, mainly in the Aquitaine basin and in the Paris basin. Most of these deposits were discovered between 1960 and 1970. The production of these deposits now covers only 1 to 2% of the national consumption.

In 2013, the metropolitan territory counted 64 concessions with a total area of ​​approximately 4,000 km2. The 2013 production amounted to 0.792 million tons of petroleum, a decrease of 1.7% compared to 2012. The geographical distribution still shows a predominance of the Paris Basin with 59.6% of the national production Slight increase compared to 2012).

Nearly 70% of the production is provided by twelve deposits, four of which contain 37.5% of the national production: Parentis and Cazaux in Aquitaine, Champotran and Itteville in the Paris Basin.

The Bassin d'Aquitaine

 The Aquitaine basin can be subdivided into two sub-basins  :

To the south, the Adour-Arzacq-Comminges land basin, which extends over 6000 km² along the northern edge of the Pyrenees and their foreland and comprises gas and oil deposits;

northwest, the Parentis oil basin, which extends to both land (1500 km²) and sea.

Note: the approximate areas to the areas where petroleum systems are proven.

 Consult the location of the deposits of the Aquitaine Basin (pdf, 1 Mb)


Aquitaine in south after an initial gas discovery in St Marcet in 1939, the main exploration success was the discovery of large Deep Lacq gas field by the National Petroleum Company of Aquitaine (SNPA future group ELF) in 1951. The deposit Lacq produced about 245 billion m3 in 1957, that of Meillon , discovered in 1966 about 56 billion m3 since 1968. both deposits are still exploited.

In the Parentis Basin, the largest French oil field, Parentis , was discovered by Esso REP in 1954. In 2005, total production from the field was almost 30 Mt and its production rate was still 140 kt per year. Through the efforts of the Canadian VERMILION company (operator of the deposit since 1997) the scope of the production rate has been maintained at a relatively high level, especially with an increase of 25% in 1998. Since 1991, five new accumulations were discovered by Esso REP, a subsidiary oF EXXON: The Arbutus (1991, producing 15.3 kt in 2005), Les Pins (1994, producing 49.9 kt in 2005) Courbey (1996, producing 43.8 kt in 2005) , Tamaris (1998) and Les Mimosas (2004). Other deposits ( Cazaux , Lugos , Mothes , Lucats-Cabeil ) occur together (in 2005) about 73 kt per year.

In total, in Aquitaine , twenty deposits were discovered. The Adour-Arzacq basin has concentrated most of the activity (4.7 wells per 100 km²), with nearly three hundred wells made since the origin of the exploration. The Parentis Basin was less drilled in absolute terms (about 120 wells), but drilling density was higher (about 8 wells / 100 km²); Its marine part, more extensive than the terrestrial part, has been recognized by only twenty boreholes.


Apart from these two regions , the field is not found, but exploration work (over two hundred wells) recognized the threshold of Landes, Aquitaine's platform (including areas or basins exist Permian under cover) and some areas south of the north-Pyrenean overlaps.

The Paris Basin

In the Paris Basin , several oil fields of small to medium size were found mainly in the sixties (the first discovery, Coulommes in 1958) and decreased production until the eighties. The basin experienced a revival after the major discoveries of Villeperdue in 1982 by TRITON in the Dogger (the field was then exploited by TOTAL, then by COPAREX, which became LUNDIN since November 2002) and Chaunoy by ESSO REP in 1983 (bought by VERMILION REP in 2006), in the Keuper. In late 2002, Chaunoy had produced a total of 9.8 Mt of oil and 5.8 Mt. Villeperdue


These discoveries resulted in a very rapid acceleration of exploration activity and a marked increase in production during the 1980s, when several other fields were discovered. The production of crude then began to decline again in the 1990s, during which exploration activities were very limited. Nevertheless, several accumulations were discovered during this period, including Itteville (1990) is the most important. And more recently (2003-2005), were discovered satellites accumulations of producing fields: La Torche and Saint Lazare (Vermilion), La Tonnelle (Lundin end of 2005).

More than 800 exploration wells have been drilled in this basin, of which less than five hundred in the central part (15 to 20,000 km²) where the liasic bedrock oil system is proved. The drilling density in this central part is thus about three wells per 100 km².

Other basins

The oil companies have not always been interested in other basins, whether land or sea. The only region that produced a significant volume of hydrocarbons (more than 4 Mt) is the Rhine ditch (Alsace). It has been intensively explored (150 exploration wells since 1940), and is also the oldest French oil province (a first mining license was granted at the end of the 18th century).

Ashore , the southeast quarter of France is a complex area that encompasses north the Jura and the graben of Bresse, central Alps and their foreland, and south of the Languedoc and Provence basins bordering the Mediterranean. These regions have been little explored (about 350 exploration wells over several tens of thousands of km²), with disappointing results, despite the presence of hydrocarbons locally (Jura, Languedoc).

Offshore , outside the marine part of the Parentis Basin already mentioned, there has been some activity in Iroise (off Brittany: 15 wells) and the Mediterranean (Gulf of Lion: 11 wells).

Northwest Europe



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