NCPGG Coursework Program







2 days: Presented by Geoff Wood, Santos Ltd


The main aim of this course is to familiarise students with the geological and geochemical interpretation of palynological data. Reference is made to various palynostratigraphic schemes currently utilised in Australia with emphasis on the North West Shelf, PNG Fold Belt, Gippsland Basin and Cooper/Eromanga Basins.


The course consists of a series of lectures which provide a concise review of all palynomorph groups (including spore-pollen, dinoflagellate cysts and acritarchs) and their application in biostratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental studies. Practical exercises on the biostratigraphic correlation of well logs and analysis of palynofacies data are designed to  illustrate various techniques for the geological and geochemical interpretation of palynological data and the  construction of chronostratigraphic sections. 


The course includes the use of palynological data in age determination, subsurface well-log correlation, unconformity identification, sequence stratigraphic analysis, formation “fingerprinting” and palaeoenvironmental interpretation. Operational aspects include well-site palynology, biosteering in development wells and palynological sample selection criteria.  Problems associated with the geological interpretation of palynological data are highlighted and include discussions on factors affecting data quality (oxidised sequences, over-mature sequences, sample quality, sample processing) and age interpretation (reworking, caving, data set provenance and vintage).  Geochemical interpretation of kerogen and palynofacies  data derived from examination of palynological preparations is presented as a cost effective technique to characterise the maturity, amount and type of organic matter in subsurface sections and identification of potential, effective and post-mature source rocks.


Upon completion of the course students will be able to construct a chronostratigraphic section for a basin using palynological data abstracted from well completion reports, compile the geological history of an area based on the subsurface distribution of palynozones and interpret source-rock and maturity relationships using spore colour data, kerogen type and organic yield. 








5 days: Presented by Assoc Prof David McKirdy, Dept. of Geology & Geophysics, University of Adelaide.


The course covers a range topics related to the essential elements and processes of a petroleum system, including hydrocarbon generation, migration, accumulation and alteration. It provides a pragmatic introduction to the various analytical techniques (petrographic, molecular and isotopic) that are employed in source rock evaluation and oil and gas characterisation. The roles of precursor biota, depositional environment and burial history (time and temperature) are considered in determining the type and amount of petroleum produced by a source rock. Techniques for quantitatively measuring source rock quality and monitoring the process of organic maturation, whereby kerogen is converted into oil and gas, are discussed. The mechanisms and efficiencies of primary migration from different source rock lithofacies (shale, coal and carbonate) are compared; and novel methods of recognising migration pathways and reconstructing the charge histories of reservoirs are described. Finally, various approaches to oil-source and oil-oil correlation based on biomarkers and C-isotopes are illustrated by way of selected case studies. A series of case histories from Australian basins reinforce various aspects of the course, which comprises lectures and several practical exercises. A topic will be set which students will research and write up in an essay for assessment.



5 days: Presented by Dr Peter Tingate, NCPGG


Thermal history modelling is the basis for predicting the timing and extent of petroleum generation in sedimentary basins. Initially, the course covers the theory associated with heat flow, followed by an overview of thermal variation associated with different subsurface structures and tectonic settings. Thermal models derived from borehole information (e.g. stratigraphy, bottom hole temperatures, lithology) and theoretical models are discussed. Different thermal maturation indicators are reviewed and their use in calibrating thermal models demonstrated. In the practical sessions students create and interpret models using BasinMod, a package widely used in the exploration industry. 


Exploring in sequences with pore pressures greater than hydrostatic values (overpressure)  can cause major safety and expenditure problems for the petroleum industry.  The causes of  overpressure in sedimentary basins are reviewed as well as methods for recognising overpressure during drilling. Simple1D models are constructed to predict the distribution and magnitude of overpressure.








2 days: Lead by Dr Geoff O’Brien, NCPGG


Outline to be received.




3 days: Presented by Assoc. Prof Simon Lang, NCPGG


Siliciclastic depositional systems form a large proportion of petroleum reservoirs and this course is designed to review the fundamentals of facies analysis needed to correctly interpret depositional processes and environments.  The course will review the basic sedimentary processes and resultant structures commonly encountered in cores and outcrops. It will provide criteria for practical identification and interpretation of alluvial fan, lacustrine, fluvial, deltaic, shoreline, shelf and deep sea clastic depositional systems from outcrop, core and wireline log datasets. The course is an essential precursor to sequence stratigraphy and reservoir stratigraphy. Practical exercises will form the basis of assessment.




4 days: Presented by Dr Peter Tingate, NCPGG


Outline to be received.




3 days: Special guest presenter for 2003: Dr Noel James, Queens University, Ontario.


Outline to be received.




1 day: Presented by Assoc. Prof Simon Lang and Mr Andy Mitchell, NCPGG.


Outline to be received.








1 day: Presented by Dr Tobi Payenberg, NCPGG


This course aims to show relationships between the cause of deformation (forces/stresses applied to lithospheric plate boundaries) and the effect (flow and failure of the lithosphere), by studying the processes of deformation of both brittle and ductile material. This knowledge will then be applied to reveal the mechanism for the creation of sedimentary basins in various tectonic settings (extensional, compressional, intracratonic, strike-slip, etc.). This leads on to classification schemes for basins, and an examination of their sedimentary fills.




3 days: Presented by Dr Kevin Hill, University of Melbourne


This course will be run as a hands-on workshop introducing the basic principles of structural geology and focusing on the main structural geometries seen on seismic data and in outcrop in the oil industry.  The emphasis is on developing a workflow to allow exploration and production geologists and geophysicists to assess structural style and produce valid structural interpretations as well as consider other possibilities.  The course will introduce the structural styles associated with extension, compression, inversion, strike-slip and salt diapirism.  For most structures, examples will be shown from both seismic data and as seen in outcrop.   Frequent short exercises, interpreting seismic data and outcrop images, will reinforce the theory presented.

Most hydrocarbon prospects are critically dependant upon structural interpretation yet routine validation of the interpretation is rare.  Hence the workshop will concentrate on practical methods to define the relationships between faults, folds, sedimentary packages and regional elevation and how they can be used predictively to validate an interpretation and hence a prospect. Emphasis is placed on the ‘Structural Family’ present in an area, which depends strongly on the basement architecture and tectonic history.  Seismic and field examples are drawn from the Timor Sea, Bass Strait, the Taranaki Basin, New Guinea, Indonesia, Watchet, the Otway Basin, Cape Liptrap, the Pyrenees, the Canadian Rockies and PNG amongst others.




3 days: Presented by Prof. Richard Hillis, NCPGG (First written 9 Jan 2003)


This course covers basic rock and fault mechanics and the determination and application of in situ stress data in the oil patch. The section on basic rock mechanics covers forces, stress and strain and Mohr's circle of stress. The section on basic fault mechanics covers failure envelopes, fault/fracture meshes, and the Andersonian classification of faults. The significance of pore pressures and law of effective stress are presented. The origin of stresses in the crust are reviewed: specifically reference states of stress, tectonic stresses, plate tectonics, and regional and local sources of stress.


The course then moves specifically to the oil patch, reviewing methods for determining the in situ stress field from standard oil exploration data, specifically: overburden stress, horizontal stress orientation, borehole breakouts, drilling-induced tensile fractures, image logs, horizontal stress magnitudes, formation integrity, leak-off and hydraulic fracture tests, fracture gradient relations, and frictional limits on stress. Finally, the applications of in situ stress data in the oil patch are discussed, specifically: interpreting recent tectonic style, structural permeability, optimum development of naturally fractured reservoirs, predicting fault reactivation/seal breach, hydraulic fracture stimulation, deviated and horizontal wellbore stability.








2 days: Presented by Assoc. Prof Simon Lang, NCPGG


Sequence stratigraphy is one of the vital tools available to petroleum geologists and geophysicists as it provides a predictive framework for understanding sedimentary basin fill, and integrates seismic, wireline log, core and outcrop data.  The first part of the course reviews the fundamental principles of stratigraphy and basic processes controlling sedimentation including accommodation, sediment supply, parameters influencing changes in base level and relative sea level, and the stratigraphic patterns produced from changes in the ratio of accomodation versus sediment supply (transgressions and regressions).  The second part focusses on stratigraphic patterns. The phenomenon of sedimentary cycles is investigated at various scales (cyclothems, parasequences, progradational, aggradational and retrogradational stacking patterns).  The third part deals with key surfaces (unconformities, erosion surfaces, flooding surfaces, maximum flooding surfaces), depositional sequences (Exxon, Galloway and hybrid approaches), and depositional systems tracts at various scales.  The final part of the course builds a practical methodology for interpreting seismic, well log, core and biostratigraphic datasets, building the skills to prepare sequence stratigraphic frameworks that are useful for prediction of reservoir, source and seal in a petroleum system. A variety of practical exercises are used, and these form the basis of assessment.




2 days. Presented by Assoc. Prof Simon Lang, NCPGG


Seismic data is a key tool for interpreting basin fill, and this course develops the basic knowledge of seismic interpretation of key surfaces (seismic reflectors) and their significance as chronostratigraphic markers. A system for recognising and classifying the different types of surfaces will be developed, to recognise key features of sedimentary architecture and seismic sequences. The seismic sequences are then interpreted in terms of sequence stratigraphic concepts to build a predictive framework useful for identifying petroleum systems and basin history. Practical examples will form the basis of the assessment, and will involve interpretation of 2D and 3D datasets.




3 days: Presented by Assoc. Prof Simon Lang, NCPGG


This practical course demonstrates the use of wireline log and core data to build high resolution sequence stratigraphic frameworks at the reservoir scale in a variety of depositional systems.  It will include exercises and a core workshop.








8 day field trip: Lead by Assoc. Prof Simon Lang and Dr Peter Tingate, NCPGG (Reviewed 21 Jan 2000)


The Amadeus Basin, a Late Proterozoic-Early Palaeozoic foreland basin in central Australia, is host to two significant oil and gas fields (Mereenie and Palm Valley). The aim of this trip is to study the evolution of a foreland basin from a sequence stratigraphic and petroleum systems perspective. It will focus on changing depositional environments along key measured sections and the relationship between sequence development and basin structuring through time.


The trip makes a traverse across the basin, beginning in the Arunta thrust complex near Alice Springs. Then it examines the Late Proterozoic early rift-related fluvial, evaporitic and glacial successions, followed by various thermal sag-related? carbonate and clastic successions, into the Early Palaeozoic Pacoota-Stairway reservoir-prone fluvial-shoreline successions accessible via the Ellery Creek and Glen Helen Gorge sections in the West MacDonnell Ranges.  The trip then moves south to examine the Devonian syn- and post-tectonic Hermannsberg alluvial fan and fluvial successions. We visit the Gosses Bluff impact crater enroute to southern outcrops of repeated Pacoota successions exposed in the Gardiner Range and the Mereenie shallow marine successions in Kings Canyon. Finally we travel to Yulara to inspect the Arumbera Sandstone at Uluru (Ayers Rock) and related coarse clastics at Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) before returning to Alice Springs.




1 day field trip: Lead by Assoc. Prof Simon Lang, NCPGG (Reviewed 21 Jan 2000



1 day field trip: Lead by Assoc. Prof Simon Lang and Dr Peter Tingate, NCPGG (Reviewed 21 Jan 2000)



2 days: Lead by Dr Tobi Payenberg, NCPGG (Reviewed 21 Jan 2000)








3 days: Presented by Prof John Kaldi and Dr Geoff O’Brien, NCPGG


This practical workshop style course demonstrates how basic geological and engineering data can be used to evaluate reservoir rock quality, fluid saturations and contact depths, transition zone thickness and seal capacity (ie the maximum hydrocarbon column a seal can hold before it leaks). The course comprises lectures, case histories and several hands-on exercises to be completed in class and as assignments. Students will work in teams of 3-4 people. The various components of the course include:









2 days: Presented by Prof John Kaldi, NCPGG


This course aims to bring together the disciplines of geology, geophysics, and reservoir engineering to provide an integrated approach to developing oil and gas fields. The primary focus of the course is on the role of the geologist in a multidisciplinary team environment.


Lectures and class exercises develop a working knowledge of the concepts and tools used in field development. The various phases of a field's history are discussed andi illustrated through both case histories and problems/exercises. Topics to be covered include:








1 day: Presented by Mr Gerry Carne, Santos Ltd.


Outline to be provided.




1 day: Presented by Mr Andy Michell, NCPGG


This course provides the student with a brief introduction to the theory of regionalised variables, and the associated techniques for estimation and simulation of spatially correlated quantities. Parameters such as porosity and permeability may be better mapped and predicted, and the uncertainties in the estimates can be better understood, using geostatistical techniques (eg kriging, co-kriging and conditional simulation) than via conventional methods. This is because geostatistics explicitly accounts for the nature of the spatial variability of the parameter, as expressed in the semivariogram. Development geologists and reservoir engineers are making increasing use of these techniques to build more accurate reservoir models.



2 days. Presented by Prof Peter Behrenbruch, School of Petroleum Engineering and Management, University of Adelaide.


The aim of this course is to provide students with an appreciation of the role of the reservoir engineer. The major concepts used in reservoir engineering will be introduced, including:


·        Fluid properties – reservoir fluids, phase diagrams, important fluid properties and their measurement or estimation, real gases vs ideal gases.


·        Single-phase flow in rocks – Darcy’s Law, its applications and limitations, the diffusivity equation.


·        Multi-phase effects – relative permeability, capillary pressure, wettability.


·        Reservoir drive mechanisms


·        Material balance – gas and oil material balance


·        Introduction to reservoir simulation – fundamental equations, parameters, importance of integrated team approach




1 day: Lead by Dr Peter Tingate, NCPGG


This exercise is held on the last day of coursework, and allows students to put to use much of the material presented over the previous months. Small groups of students "explore" a hypothetical area, with a given budget for drilling. The results from each new well are integrated into the overall picture to decide where to locate future wells. The ability to interpret and predict depositional environments is a crucial factor in the success of this endeavour. Occasional drilling problem occur to complicate the budget management. The groups compete to determine which most efficiently and accurately determines the area's hydrocarbon reserves.








1 day. Presented by Dr Ric Daniel, NCPGG


The course will cover the mudlogging unit (equipment) set up and  background  the preparation of comprehensive mud logs. The course will cover the basic operations of mudlogging, i.e. the analysis of drill cuttings, the extraction and monitoring of gas,  the evaluation of hydrocarbon shows and monitoring drilling operations.  A brief introduction to offshore mudlogging and drilling operations is also included.




6 days: Presented by Prof. Richard Hillis, NCPGG


This course commences by covering the logging environment and basic temperature and caliper logging. It then covers the basic physical principles behind, and operation of, the major wireline logging tools, ie. self-potential, resistivity, gamma ray, sonic, density and neutron. The analysis of log data is covered both in lectures and with practical examples. The analysis techniques covered focus on the determination of fluid type from electrical logs and the determination of porosity from sonic/density/neutron logs. The interpretation of lithology from logs is also discussed. The final part of the course covers modern logs including resistivity and acoustic imaging tools and magnetic resonance tools.



CORE DESCRIPTION (Geologists only)

1 day: Presented by Assoc Prof Simon Lang and Dr Tobi Payenberg, NCPGG.


Outline to be received.



SAMPLE ANALYSIS (Geologists only)

1 day: Presented by Prof. John Kaldi, NCPGG


Outline to be received.








2 days: Presented by Prof. Richard Hillis, NCPGG


This course examines the role of potential field geophysical techniques (gravity and magnetic methods) in petroleum exploration. The acquisition, processing and interpretation of magnetic and gravity data are discussed. The types of structures that tend to be better imaged by gravity and magnetic data than seismic data are discussed, as are several case studies of potential field methods in petroleum exploration. The gravity method is largely covered in the context of a problem-based learning exercise involving undertaking, processing and interpreting a gravity survey to estimate the throw on the Para Fault in Bonython Park, close to the NCPGG. This non-outcropping fault is one of the major faults defining the Gulf St. Vincent Basin.




4 days: Presented by Mr Andy Mitchell, NCPGG


This four-day course is designed to give students with little or no background in these areas a basic understanding of the standard methods used in acquiring and processing seismic reflection data.


The course begins with a brief review of elastic waves and phenomena such as reflection, refraction, diffraction and attenuation which occur as these waves propagate through the earth.


The acquisition component outlines the equipment used (sources, detectors, recorders, etc.); survey design; typical acquisition procedures for land and marine surveys; and auxiliary information such as uphole and shallow refraction surveys.


The processing component deals in a non-mathematical way with the processes used to convert field data to final section. In particular, velocity analysis, statics, CDP stack, deconvolution and migration will be discussed, as these are the basis of most conventional processing.


Assessment will be via practical exercises and an examination.


At the end of the course, students should have a basic understanding of the planning and acquisition of seismic surveys (both 2D and 3D), the processing of the resulting field data, and some appreciation of the impact that the acquisition and processing parameters may have on the interpretation of the data.



SIGNAL ANALYSIS (Geophysicists Only)

5 days: Presented by Mr Andy Mitchell, NCPGG


The aim of this course is to provide students intending to specialise in geophysics with the basic mathematical tools for understanding the techniques used in seismic acquisition and processing, and many other areas of geophysical analysis. After a review of the continuous and discrete Fourier transforms and the Z transform, the course covers the sampling theorem and FFT, correlation, convolution and filtering. This is followed by deterministic deconvolution and Wiener filter design. The course concludes with an introduction to 2D transforms, such as f-k and tau-p techniques. A series of problems and exercises is used to demonstrate the material covered in the lectures.


Assessment will be via practical exercises and an examination.



SEISMIC ACQUISITION (Geophysicists Only)

4 days: Presented by Mr. Doug Roberts, Consultant


Key components of this course are: elementary concepts of seismic wave propagation including seismic refraction and reflection; elements of the seismic field system including seismic energy sources, detectors, cables, and recording instruments; field procedures; acquisition parameters; permitting, environment and crew management. Both onshore and offshore 2D and 3D techniques will be discussed. A key focus will be on the issues of planning and conducting seismic surveys in environmentally sensitive areas and on establishing good relationships with other land users.


Assessment will be via marking of practical work.



SEISMIC PROCESSING (Geophysicists Only)

4 days: Presented by Mr Andy Mitchell, NCPGG, and special guest presenter for 2003: Prof Roger Young, University of Oklahoma


This course is designed to give geophysics students a practical introduction to seismic data processing. All conventional aspects of the processing of seismic reflection data are covered, beginning with 2- and 3- dimensional field geometries, digital tape formats, demultiplexing and editing, to the final display of the processed sections. The sequence of procedures and critical processing parameters are emphasized.


Practical work involves small groups of students processing a 2D seismic line from field tape through to migrated stack using an interactive interpretation package on workstations. This complements the lectures and provides an appreciation of the procedures and problems encountered in seismic processing.


Assessment will be via a report on the processing project and an examination.




9 days: Presented by Mr Andy Mitchell, NCPGG


The aim of this course is to introduce geologists and geophysicists to the fundamentals of seismic interpretation. It therefore concentrates on structural interpretation, leaving stratigraphic issues to the Seismic Sequence Stratigraphy and Advanced Seismic Interpretation courses.


Topics covered in the lectures include the convolutional model, seismic resolution, types and characteristics of seismic events, well to seismic ties, interpretation objectives and procedure, map production, velocity anomalies and depth conversion. Particular emphasis is placed on well ties, fault interpretation, and the requirement for an interpretation and the resulting maps to be internally consistent and geologically sensible.


Extensive practical work involves interpretation of 2D seismic data on paper and workstation, and interpretation of a 3D survey on a workstation. The workstation exercises are conducted in small groups, allowing all students to gain hands-on experience. The practicals stress the effort and discipline involved in producing a self-consistent interpretation of horizons and faults by working on grids or volumes of data, rather than interpreting single lines.


Assessment will be via marking of the practical interpretations and an examination




5 days: Presented by Mr Andy Mitchell, NCPGG


This course introduces students to a number of concepts and techniques not covered in the Seismic Interpretation unit. Most of these deal with methods of extracting stratigraphic information from seismic data. The topics covered are direct hydrocarbon indicators, amplitude versus offset studies, multicomponent surveys, seismic attributes, seismically thin beds, interpretation of velocities, seismic inversion and anisotropy


Assessment will be via marking of practical work.








1 day: Presented by Prof. Richard Hillis, NCPGG


The basic equipment and operations of rotary drilling (onshore and offshore) are discussed. Operations covered include adding drillpipe, the round trip, casing and cementing, completion, and fishing. Drilling problems, rate of penetration and sampling in the wellbore are also discussed. The role of drilling muds, oil- and water-based muds and the concept of the safe mud weight envelope are covered, as are the drivers for, and techniques of deviated and horizontal drilling. The practical exercise involves the analysis of mud weight densities, the determination of the safe mud weight envelope from leak-off testing and the basic principles of casing design.




2 days: Lead by Dr Ric Daniel and Dr Peter Tingate, NCPGG


Students travel to an area of exploration/development to visit operations such as production facilities, processing plants, drilling rigs and seismic crews. Students have the chance to observe operations in the field and gain practical understanding, which complements the drilling operations course. Notice of this trip may be short (possibly only a few days), depending on whether the rig is running to schedule. In 2003, this was run as a weekend trip to the Otway Basin in the southwest of Victoria.








2 days: Presented by Dr Rhodri Johns, Santos Ltd.


This course is designed to acquaint the student with oil company structure, government agencies, legislation, joint ventures, and farm-ins and farm-outs. The economic portion of this course involves the understanding of cash flow, payout, profit to investment ratios, and time value concepts including rate of return and net present value. In addition, exploration decision analysis is presented with topics such as expected monetary value, risk, decision trees and simulation studies.




1 day: Presented by Dr John Kaldi and Ms Janet Hart, NCPGG.


The correct preparation of a CV and the manner in which an interview is handled are critical skills in getting a job. This course is designed to review and improve the student's abilities in these areas.




1 day: Presented by Prof Richard Hillis, NCPGG.


Outline to be received