MSc Petroleum Geoscience for Reservoir Development and Production / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Key Interpretation Skills

Unit code EART60381
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit is delivered as two parts:
Part 1. Formation Evaluation is the study of the physical properties of rocks and their ability to store and flow hydrocarbon. This unit will introduce the fundamental principles of petrophysics and its importance to resource evaluation in hydrocarbon reservoirs.  It focuses on how porosity, permeability and hydrocarbon saturation are measured in rock samples and from geophysical logs.
Part 2. Seismic, acquisition and processing investigates how structure and stratigraphy are imaged in the subsurface. It is an integrated course covering the methodologies used to collect reflection seismic data and other geophysical datasets; how that data is processed, evaluated and quality controlled. It will also introduce the interpretation of 2D and 3D seismic data

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.


To develop an understanding of the key core and geophysical techniques used in the evaluation of reservoir rocks in the subsurface, including the principles of net-to-gross, porosity, permeability and saturation determination and the controls on their distribution.


Learning outcomes

On the successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe the different ways in which geological and petrophysical data is collected during drilling and calculate net to gross from core data and using Vshale analysis
  2. Describe the geophysical properties that are measured by the gamma ray, neutron porosity, density, sonic and resistivity tools, their vertical resolution and the relationship of their properties to reservoir fluid distribution in the near-borehole environment
  3. Understand the genesis of porosity and the parameters that are used to describe it in 1, 2 and 3 dimensions
  4. Measure porosity using routine core analysis and from the density, neutron and sonic logs and describe the differences between the values
  5. Be able to measure permeability at multiple scales using Darcy’s Law and estimate permeability using measured pore volume
  6. Calculate net to gross from core data and using Vshale analysis
  7. Calculate saturation from resistivity logs using the Archie equation and alternative shaley-sand models
  8. Describe the different methods by which primary drainage is measured on core plugs and use the raw data to calculate Swi, m and n
  9. Assess uncertainty associated with the different methods used to determine porosity, permeability, Sw and net to gross and their impact on reservoir volumes
  10. Describe the principles of seismic acquisition, including the theory and common practice both onshore and offshore
  11. Demonstrate the techniques involved in seismic processing of 2D and 3D reflection seismic data
  12. Conduct basic seismic interpretation
  13. Identify and evaluate other advanced geophysical techniques, their uses and limitations



Formation Evaluation
1. What is petrophysics?
2. Drilling, datums, well orientation and data types
3. Lithological interpretation of wireline logs
4. Pore systems in carbonate and clastic rocks
5. Porosity determination from core and wireline logs
6. Permeability and permeability transforms
7. Rock physical models
8. Saturation determination from core and wireline logs
9. Special logs
10. Saturation in non-Archie reservoirs
Seismic geophysics:
1. Acquisition of, and standard processing involved in, land and marine 2D and 3D reflection seismic data.
2. Advanced seismic techniques (pre-stack depth migration, synthetic seismograms, VSPs, AVO, etc).
3. 2D and 3D seismic interpretation.
4. Direct Hydrocarbon Indicators (DHI's).
5. Seismic time to depth conversion and map contouring.
6. Integration of aeromagnetic, gravity and remotely-sensed data.

Teaching and learning methods

This module will be delivered as 9 sessions of 3 hours each integrating lectures as practical interpretation, plus a 2 hour, paper-based integrated petrophysical assessment


Assessment methods

In-class petrophysical interpretation of core analysis and wireline log data (0%)

Open book online assessment (seismic interpretation), 1.5hr (50%)

In course assignment (petrophysics) (50%)


Feedback methods

In-class petrophysical interpretation of core analysis and wireline log data (0%) - Discussion of solution in class and posted on Blackboard

Open book online assessment (seismic interpretation), 1.5hr (50%) - Marked online assessment

In course assignment (petrophysics) (50%) - Marked assignment

Recommended reading

Asquith, G and Krygowski, D., 2004. Basic Well Log Analysis.  AAPG Methods in Exploration, 16, 244pp
Jahn, F., Cook, M and Graham, M., 2008. Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production. Developments in Petroleum Science, 55, Elsevier, 456pp
Rider, M. and Kennedy, M, 2011 The Geological Interpretation of Well Logs, Rider-French, 432pp
Tiab, D and Donaldson, E., 2004. Petrophysics. Elsevier, 889pp


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 15
Practical classes & workshops 15
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Catherine Hollis Unit coordinator

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