Peter van Ruth

PhD Student

Telephone: +61 8 8303 4290
Facsimile: +61 8 8303 4345

PhD Project:

Overpressure in Australian Basins (North West Shelf and Cooper Basin).

Commenced: 1999

Supervisor: Prof. Richard Hillis

Project Support: ASEG Research Foundation

Scholarship Support: Adelaide University

The study of abnormal fluid pressure (overpressure) in sedimentary basins is an important aspect of petroleum exploration with respect to drilling hazard, and as a potential control on open natural fractures and fluid flow. The fluid filling pore spaces in sedimentary basins is considered overpressured when its pressure is greater than the hydrostatic gradient. The hydrostatic gradient is the pressure exerted by a continuous column of fluid above that particular depth. In the drilling context the main risks associated with overpressures are undetected zones. Once detected, overpressure is often controllable by increasing the mud weight. The study areas are the Cooper Basin and the North West Shelf. Both basins have areas of overpressure and are the subject of active petroleum exploration and development. The aims of this project are to:

  • A: provide an improved model of the distribution of overpressure within the study areas;
  • B: quantify wireline log and physical characteristics of the overpressured sediments, and;
  • C: identify the likely origin of overpressure in each basin studied.

    Details of the project are outlined in Figure 1.

    Figure 1 - PhD project flow chart

    Various aspects of this research form part of the ARC SPIRT project "Exploration for Tight Gas Reservoirs Enhanced by Natural Fracturing, Cooper Basin, South Australia", and the Australian Petroleum CRC Abnormal Geopressure Prediction project.


    Tingate, P.R., Khaksar, A., van Ruth, P., Dewhurst, D., Raven M., Young, H., Hillis, R., and Doods, K., 2001. Geological Controls on Overpressure in the Northern Carnarvon Basin. APPEA Journal, 41, 1, 573-593.

    van Ruth, P.J., and Hillis, R.R., 2000. Estimating Pore Pressure in the Cooper Basin, South Australia: Sonic Log Method in an Uplifted Basin. Exploration Geophysics, 32, 1&2, 441-447.

    van Ruth, P.J, Hillis, R.R., and Swarbrick, R.E., 2000. Mud Weights, Transient Pressure Tests, and the Distribution of Overpressure in the North West Shelf, Australia. PESA Journal, 28, 59-66.


    Peter van Ruth graduated from the University of Adelaide with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Geology and Geophysics in 1998. Peter started a PhD in Geophysics at the National Centre for Petroleum Geology and Geophysics (NCPGG) in 1999. As part of his project Peter spent three months studying at the University of Durham under Dr Richard Swarbrick in 2000. Peter is a member of AAPG, SEG, EAGE, ASEG and PESA.

    For a pdf copy of my current resume click here.