MSc Petroleum Geoscience for Reservoir Development and Production / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Field Depletion Planning

Unit code EART60282
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course is designed to make students aware of the toolkits, work flows and processes required to develop a field, and manage a reservoir; it also covers those non domain subsurface focused skills needed enable informed decisions in reservoir and field appraisal, development and production. The Unit is delivered in two complementary components:
Component 1
1. What is a Reservoir Model and why do we need them in the petroleum industry. 
2. Markov Chains and Monte-Carlo simulations.
3. Univariate and Multivariate statistics applied to reservoir characterisation. 
4. Reservoir modelling algorithms: How they work and where to apply them.
Getting started:
1. Introduction to the Petrel Reservoir Modelling package.
2. Structural modelling: modelling faults and horizons
Modelling algorithms by example:
1. Deepwater fan complex: Sequential Indicator Simulations (SIS)
2. Confined fluvial systems: Object Modelling
3. Shoreface settings: Truncated Gaussian Simulations
4. Carbonate reservoirs: SIS, Probability volumes, Discrete Fracture Networks.
Component 2 
Component 2 comprises 2 elements:
1. Lecture based introduction to business focused subsurface domain skills that bring together technical knowledge to effectively develop and manage oil and gas reservoir systems
2. Lecture based overview of the core business processes across the E&P Value Chain from Access to Exploration & Production, showing how and where the integrated subsurface understanding is used to inform business decisions and activities.
Component 3
The 5 day field trip will go to either Morocco, Mallorca or Ireland. 
Morocco: The trip examines a continuous succession of Mesozoic fill of the Central Atlantic margin. Starting in Precambrian basement and sediment source areas we investigate Triassic continental syn-rift deposits, overlain by extensive post-rift Jurassic carbonates and Cretaceous shallow marine deposits. 
Mallorca: The focus is on carbonate platforms and reefal systems, exquisitely exposed in the Cap Blanc section. Lagoonal facies and reservoir characteristics are studied at the Cala Pi section. The broader facies architecture and high resolution sequence stratigraphy of Llucmajor Platform Miocene Oolitic Belt facies is examined from a distance by boat, and the relevance to exploration discussed in evening lectures. The field course also examines examples of karstic collapse; Pleistocene eolianites and Permo-Triassic red bed fluvio-aeolian sediments.
Western Ireland: World class sites in County Clare superbly expose a continuous record of the filling of the Clare basin from deep-water basin floor fans, slope deposits and deltaic/ shallow marine siliciclastics. The trip develops an understanding of depositional environments, petroleum systems, reservoir characterisation and source rocks. Undertake a series of exercises in the field to develop core skills.
This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.




The course unit is delivered as two complementary components.
Component 1 uses the Petroleum Geoscience dedicated workstation suite to 
[i] Introduce the principles of Stochastic Reservoir Modelling, and the underlying statistics that support this modelling approach. 
[ii] Introduce the concepts of uncertainty and risk, and how those concepts apply to reservoir modelling.
[iii] Develop key skills and attributes of those seeking employment in the petroleum geology sector.  
Component 2 offers an introduction to, and an overview of the key business focused skills and knowledge that complement the fundamental geoscience based technical skills, acquired in other units of the MSc program. It brings together the technical skills and knowledge with the core applied skills and knowledge of business processes. This enables a deeper understanding of the principle business decisions and how they are enabled and informed by subsurface understanding. The unit includes a reservoir development group project on a subsurface data set for a field; including: interpretation and integration of seismic, well, fluids, core and production data sets for an offshore field. The project will assess the Integrated Subsurface Description, Subsurface Uncertainty and Risk Assessment and Development plan for the reservoir. 
Fieldwork component: Geological outcrops provide analogues of petroleum systems. Through fieldwork we aim to assess the controls structure, changing sea level and depositional environments have on the stratigraphic record. Evaluation of the link between sedimentary process and stratigraphy allows us to better predict the quality of potential source rocks, reservoirs, seals and geological structures.

Learning outcomes

On the successful completion of the course, students will be able to: 

  • Explain what a reservoir model is, and why building reservoir models is important

  • Describe the main reservoir modelling algorithms, and appraise their effectiveness in modelling different depositional environments.

  • Have basic knowledge of the reservoir modelling capabilities of Petrel, and the ability to build a simple reservoir model in that software.

  • A recognition of the roles of risk and uncertainty in geoscience related industries (and beyond).

  • Become familiar with the fundamental activity focused skills needed in field appraisal, development and reservoir management
  • Evaluate how integrated subsurface understanding impacts key business decisions across the E&P Value Chain
  • Appraise the contribution of structural and sedimentary process on the spatial and temporal distributions of petroleum source rocks and reservoirs.
  • Appreciate safe geological practices in all aspects of geological fieldwork.


Component 1 : Reservoir Modelling
[1] On-line lectures and associated course manual.
[2] Practicals delivered as on-line training videos with associated formative tests.
[3] Directed and independent reading
[4] Directed and independent exercises
[5] Discussions
[6] Feedback – use of on-line test allow instantaneous feedback on progress. Further feedback available by in-class discussion.
[7] Electronic communication 
Component 2: Field Development
[1] Major Projects & Field Developments & Mariner South Part I: introduction.
[2] Depletion Planning
[3] Unconventional Resources
[4] HSE & Subsurface
[5] Mariner South Part I Presentations & Mariner South Part II introduction.
[6] Uncertainty & Risk Management
[7] New Well Delivery
[8] Production Geology
Fieldwork reinforces skills in three-dimensional thinking and visualisation and it provides an appreciation of the problems of "scaling up" geological observations to the subsurface models employed by reservoir engineers. Field assessment is conducted through daily exercises which are conducted in the field.

Teaching and learning methods

Components 1 and 2 are taught in the class room through lectures and associated practical exercises designed to build understanding. 
If Covid-19 restrictions are in place a move to blended learning, or fully online approaches will be applied. 
Component 3 is taught in the field through a series of hands on observational and interpretive exercises.  


Assessment methods

Report - individual (Mariner), 1 hour (40%)

Test (res modelling) (30%)

Assignment (field exercise) (30%)


Feedback methods

Report - individual (Mariner), 1 hour (40%) - Feedback on-line feedback within normal timeframe

Test (res modelling) (30%) - Designed to test understanding. In class feedback provided

Assignment (field exercise) (30%) - Written individual feedback on field exercises next day. Synthesis exercise feedback provided within 14 days.

Recommended reading

Caers, J. & Society of Petroleum, E. 2005. Petroleum geostatistics. Society of Petroleum Engineers, Richardson, Tex.

Coburn, T. C., Yarus, J. M., Chambers, R. L. & American Association of Petroleum, G. 2006. Stochastic modeling and geostatistics : principles, methods, and case studies, volume II. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, Okla.

Deutsch, C. V. 2002. Geostatistical reservoir modeling. Oxford University Press, Oxford ; New York.

Grammer, G. M., Harris, P. M., Eberli, G. P. & American Association of Petroleum, G. 2004. Integration of outcrop and modern analogs in reservoir modeling. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, Okla.

Hodgetts. D., Drinkwater, N.J., Hodgson, D.M., Kavanagh, J., Flint, S., Keogh, K., & Howell, J.. (2004) Three-dimensional geological models from outcrop data using digital data collection techniques: an example from the Tanqua Karoo depocentre, South Africa. In Geological Prior Information: Informing Science and Engineering. Geological Society Special Publication 239 (ed. A. Curtis and R. Woods), pp. 57-75. Geological Society

Ringrose, P. & Bentley, M (2015) Reservoir Model Design: A Practitioner's Guide. ISBN: 978-94-007-5496-6 (Print) 978-94-007-5497-3 (Online):  Springer

Yarus, J. M. and Chambers, R. L. 1994. Stochastic modeling and geostatistics: Principles, methods and case studies AAPG computer applications in geology No 3: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1994, 379 pp., ISBN 0-89181-702-6

Ringrose, P & Bentley, M. 2015. Reservoir Model Design: A Practitioner's Guide. Springer.

Jahn, F, Cook, M, and Graham, M (2008): Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production (2nd Edition), Elsevier, pp. 456. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 30
Seminars 15
Independent study hours
Independent study 105

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rufus Brunt Unit coordinator

Additional notes

PC workstation instruction and ‘flipped classroom’ directed learning:  15 hours.

Practical classes & workshops:     30 hours.

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