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The Neoproterozoic Eon is relatively poorly known from a petroleum perspective, despite the existence of producing, proven and potential plays in many parts of the world. In tectonic, climatic and petroleum systems terms, the Neoproterozoic to Early Cambrian period can be divided into three distinct phases: a Tonian to Early Cryogenian phase, prior to about 750 Ma, dominated by the formation, stabilization and initial break-up of the supercontinent of Rodinia; a mid Cryogenian to Early Ediacaran phase (c. 750–600 Ma) including the major global-scale ‘Sturtian’ and ‘Marinoan’ glaciations and a mid Ediacaran to Early Cambrian (c. post 600 Ma) phase corresponding with the formation and stabilization of the Gondwana Supercontinent. There is increasing evidence that deposition of many mid to late Neoproterozoic (to Early Palaeozoic) organic-rich units was triggered by strong post-glacial sea level rise on a global scale, following the ‘Snowball Earth’ type glaciations, coupled with basin development and rifting on a more local scale.

Fieldwork in North Africa including the Taoudenni Basin in Mauritania, Algeria and Mali; the Anti-Atlas region of Morocco and the Cyrenaica, Kufra and Murzuk basins in Libya has added to the understanding of reservoir, source and seal relationships and confirmed the widespread presence of Precambrian stromatolitic carbonate units of potential reservoir facies. Current research on the chronostratigraphy, distribution and quality of source rocks, controls on reservoir quality and distribution of seals in the Precambrian–Early Cambrian hydrocarbon plays throughout South America, North Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent is documented in this Special Publication.

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