Petrophysics/Petroleum Reservoir Properties


Program Manager: Professor Richard Hills

The petrophysics/petroleum reservoir properties program is a broad one encompassing the outputs of a research group of twelve.

Aims and benefits of program

The aim of the group is to undertake both fundamental and applied research pertaining to petrophysics/petroleum reservoir properties. There is a particular focus on in situ stress-related issues (petroleum geomechanics) and on tectonic/structural issues and their influence on reservoir properties, including, for example, fractured reservoirs and broader field- and basin-scale tectonic processes.

The group works on projects in South Australia, Australia and wider Australasia/SE Asia. There is a strong link with the South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Resources through their funding of the Chair in Petrophysics/Petroleum Reservoir Properties. In addition, fundamental research within the group is supported by the Australian Research Council and applied research by a large variety of company sponsors and supporters.



PROJECTS:


Exploration for Tight Gas Reservoirs Enhanced by Natural Fracturing, Cooper Basin, South Australia
Project leader: Professor Richard Hillis
Research personnel: Dr Scott Mildren, Dr Suzanne Hunt and Peter van Ruth (PhD student)
Funding support: ARC (SPIRT Scheme) and Santos Ltd: 1999-2002, $321K


This is the key project in the basin-centre gas and fractured reservoir area. The gas reservoir rocks in the Nappamerri Trough (Cooper Basin, SA) have low permeability (ie. fluids cannot easily flow through them). The low permeability of these 'tight' gas reservoirs precludes commercial gas production. This project aims to identify where natural fractures enhance reservoir permeability. This is being achieved by detailed analysis of the structural history and contemporary, in situ stress field of the Cooper Basin. The final stage of the project involves modelling of in situ stresses within the Nappamerri Trough to predict low stress areas that may be more conducive to fracture stimulation and areas where the stress field is conducive to production from natural fractures. The Nappamerri Trough tight gas resource is estimated to be 30 trillion cubic feet. If this project unlocks one trillion cubic feet of tight gas, its economic value would be $1.7 billion.



In Situ Stress and Neotectonics of Brunei
Project leader: Professor Richard Hillis
Research personnel: Dr Scott Mildren and Mark Tingay (PhD student)
Funding support: ARC (Large Grant Scheme): 1999-2001 inclusive, $190K


Brunei's Baram Delta affords a unique opportunity to analyse a structurally complex deltaic sequence using data from offshore oil exploration and onshore outcrops. This project will determine the contemporary stress regime associated with deltaic extensional tectonics, and that associated with the transition from extensional to compressional and wrench tectonics exhibited within the deltaic sequence. The distribution and origin of elevated pore pressures, and coupling between pore pressure and stress will also be determined, as will the influence of contemporary stress on fluid flow. These issues have major implications for deltaic tectonics and for oil exploration. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with Dr Chris Morley (University of Brunei) and Dr Dick Swarbrick (University of Durham, UK). The PhD project of Mark Tingay falls within this project, and its description below, provides further information on the project.

PhD Project: In Situ Stress, Overpressure and Neotectonics of Brunei Darussalam
PhD Student: Mark Tingay (commenced 1999)
Supervisor: Prof Richard Hills
Project Support: ARC Large Grant
Scholarship Support: Australian Postgraduate Award



The Australian Stress Map
Project leader: Professor R Hillis
Research personnel: Dr Scott Mildren, Jeremy Meyer (PhD student), and Scott Reynolds (PhD student)
Funding support: Contract research projects and Australian Postgraduate Awards


The Australian Stress Map project commenced in 1996 with funding from the Australian Research Council. Inspired by the World Stress Map project (Zoback, 1992), there were three key drivers for the project.

(1) The in situ stress field of the Australian Continent was poorly constrained at the time of compilation of the World Stress Map. (2) The limited data that did exist indicated complex and scattered stress orientations in the Australian Continent. (3) Increasing recognition of the importance of in situ stress data to problems related to hydrocarbon exploration and development in Australia.

The Australian Stress Map project has had a major impact in all three of the above areas and the project is ongoing. New data are continually being added to the database as a result of projects undertaken at the NCPGG. The project involves Prof Richard Hillis, Dr. Scott Mildren and PhD students Jeremy Meyer and Scott Reynolds. For further information see the Australian Stress Map website

The PhD projects of Scott Reynolds and Jeremy Meyer fall within this project, and descriptions of their PhD projects below, provide further information on the project.

PhD Project: Characterization and Modelling of the Regional In Situ Stress Field of Continental Australia
PhD student: Scott Reynolds (commenced 1998)
Supervisor: Prof Richard Hills
Project support: Contract Research Projects
Scholarship support: The University ofAdelaide Faculty of Science Scholarship

PhD Project: The Stress Field of the South Australian Region
PhD student: Jeremy Meyer (commenced 1997)
Supervisor: Prof Richard Hillis
Project support: Contract Research Projects
Scholarship support: Australian Postgraduate Award



Seal Integrity in the Barramundi-1 Well
Project leader and Personnel: Professor Richard Hillis
Funding support: Globex: 2000
This was a contract research project, details of which are confidential.

An Offshore Extension to the Clarence-Moreton Basin
Project leader: Professor Richard Hillis
Personnel: Anthony Gartrell
Funding support: Pitt Research: 2000
This was a contract research project, details of which are confidential.

MSc Project: Overpressure in New Zealand Basins
MSc Student: Angus Oraekwuotu (commenced 1999)
Supervisor: Prof Richard Hillis
Project Support: Student-funded

PhD Project: Overpressure in Australian Basins (North West Shelf and Cooper Basin)
PhD Student: Peter van Ruth (commenced 1999)
Supervisor: Prof Richard Hillis
Project Support: ASEG Research Foundation
Scholarship Support: Faculty of Science

PhD Project: Lithospheric Modelling: Viscoelastic/Flexural Modelling of the Late Cretaceous to Recent Barrow and Dampier Sub-Basins
PhD student: Ainslie Baxter (commenced 1997)
Supervisor: Professor Richard Hillis
Funding support: Mobil Exploration & Producing Australia Pty Ltd
Scholarship support: Mobil Exploration & Producing Australia Pty Ltd

PhD Project: Magnetic Petrophysics: The Use of Fractal Dimension for Textural Based Enhancement of Aeromagnetic Data
PhD student: Trevor Dhu (commenced 1997)
Supervisors: Prof Richard Hillis, Dr Mike Dentith (University of Western Australia)
Project support: ASEG Research Foundation
Scholarship support: Australian Postgraduate Award

PhD project: Structural History and Hydrocarbon Migration in the Bass Basin.
PhD student: Aaron Cummings (commenced 2000)
Supervisors: Prof Richard Hillis, Dr Peter Tingate
Funding support: Mineral Resources Tasmania, Globex Far East
Scholarship support: Australian Postgraduate Award, MRT PhD Scholarship