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Module GLU44914: Petroleum Geology and Exploration

  Module GLU44914
Co-ordinator: Dr Chris Nicholas
Course Type: Mandatory

Theory examination (30%); in-course assessment (40%); field course (30%)

ECTS: 10 Credits
Prerequisites: JS Geology

Contact hours & timing:

Michaelmas Term
Weeks 3-8, nine hours per week; 5 day residential field course

Module Learning Aims

The aim of this module is to give the student an introduction to the theoretical and practical aspects behind oil exploration in the 21st Century.

Module Content

The last of the world’s 'easy' oil discoveries have been made and now there is increasing global economic pressure to explore for hydrocarbons in more and more inaccessible regions, in an attempt to stretch out the planet's last reserves and ease the changeover to renewable energy resources.  Therefore, the petroleum industry has now entered a new phase, which targets oil and gas exploration in developing regions, which were previously considered to be uneconomic. 

Two main strands are followed during the course of this module. Firstly, the principal theoretical concepts of petroleum generation, migration and accumulation are introduced. Secondly, this theory is illustrated in practice by investigating real-life examples of on going oil exploration in the frontier region of East Africa. In a series of problem-solving practical tasks, the student will use actual industry data to follow the main steps from initial exploration to drilling. Sessions each week will consist of lectures to present new theoretical material followed by practical sessions in which to apply various investigative techniques, including; drilling, electronic well log interpretation and ‘mud-logging’, well correlation and basin modelling, sequence stratigraphy and seismic interpretation. At the end of the module there is a field excursion to the classic coastal exposures of Co. Clare. This excursion is used to demonstrate high-resolution facies analysis and sequence stratigraphic principles in the field in a series of problem-solving exercises. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • describe how oil and gas is generated and trapped
  • interpret seismic sections and discuss the application of sequence stratigraphy
  • give a detailed account of the concepts behind petroleum play systems and the recognition of petroleum play elements
  • assess risk in prospects prior to drilling
  • interpret electronic well logs and provide a discussion of the main structural and petroleum geology aspects of key East African play systems.

Field trip

An additional cost will be charged for attending the field trip. Please contact the module co-ordinator for further information.