On 27th February, 33 PhD students of the third NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil and Gas cohort (2016), left their respective HEI’s and gathered together at Heriot Watt University for the first time since attending the NERC CDT Annual Conference and subsequent two week residential Environmental Impact and Regulation Module there in November, to undertake an intensive one week course on Petroleum Systems Analysis. The course, led by Andy Bell (Heriot Watt University Honorary Professor and Shell Lead of Global Geology Research/Manager of Integrated Charge Evaluation and Asset Geochemistry) and Erdem Idiz (Visiting Professor at Oxford University and formerly of Shell E&P), covered all elements of Petroleum Systems Analysis with a focus on the integration of basin modelling and geochemistry in charge risking.

The course commenced with a one day high level overview of source rock deposition and hydrocarbon properties, including their chemical makeup and physical attributes, providing the students who come from a variety of geoscience and environmental disciplines, a solid foundation and common knowledge of petroleum source rocks and oil and gas products. This was followed by two days focussing on petroleum generation and maturation. During these two days, an initial explanation of the methods used to type the expelled products was followed by an explanation of and examples from, basin modelling workflows, demonstrating how the raw data and analytical results are combined and used to inform models depicting sedimentary basin development and evolution. These technical lectures integrated many global examples to exemplify the theory and were further interspersed with individual and group exercises providing an opportunity for the students to put these learnings into practice.

The week finished with a competitive license bidding competition. In teams the students undertook technical evaluation of geological datasets applying their knowledge from the week to determine the likely prospectivity of license blocks in the region of interest and used this information to compose a bid for the acreage. As in previous years, the exercise proved to be a highlight of the week.

Additionally, during their week at Heriot Watt, the students were warmly welcomed by Heriot-Watt’s AAPG Student Chapter who were hosting two guest lecturers, Prof Erdem Idiz (Oxford) and Dr Stephanie Kape (BGS), as part of their Distinguished Lecture Series. Many of the cohort accepted the invitation to attend both technical lectures which respectively covered the complexities of mixed petroleum systems (where hydrocarbon reserves comprise products originating from multiple sources), and fluvial reservoirs with a focus on their sedimentology and stratigraphic architecture and how this affects production.