Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Clastics

Deepwater Stratigraphy and Facies Analysis from Seismic, Well Data and Outcrops

Course Code: N483
Instructors:  Mike Mayall
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
3 days
6 sessions


This course focuses on the stratigraphic interpretation of deepwater depositional systems with emphasis on utilising practical workflows for mapping, predicting, and quantifying deepwater reservoirs.

Business Impact: This course equips subsurface geoscientists with the skills and techniques required to more effectively map different deepwater facies, leading to better understanding of the reservoir distribution and stratigraphic trap potential. This can be utilised in all stages of the E&P cycle. 


"Mike is an excellent teacher with loads of industry experience. I can immediately see how to apply the knowledge gained during the training class. He was able to break down a complex topic into easily digestible systematics but at the same time to show the uncertainties associated with interpretation of deep water system."

Duration and Training Method

This is a classroom or virtual classroom course comprising a mixture of lectures, discussion, case studies, and practical exercises.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Develop a systematic approach to mapping and interpreting deepwater depositional systems at scales from basin to individual reservoirs.
  2. Evaluate facies to create depositional models and predict reservoir presence, distribution, and quality.
  3. Assess implications of interpretations on lithology, net-to-gross, and reservoir properties.

During the course, the following will be considered for the different depositional elements:

  • Mapping methodologies
  • Stratigraphic architecture
  • Facies prediction and reservoir quality

The key topics to be covered are as follows.

Topic 1: Deepwater depositional systems – overview of the fundamentals

  • Depositional processes and facies
  • Sequence stratigraphic setting
  • Submarine Fan types and controls

Topic 2: Slope types and Key depositional elements (Channels, MTC’s, Sheets)

An overview of slope types based on degree of structuration and confinement of depositional systems. Identification of the key facies elements common to all deep-water deposits. This will form the basis for the rest of the course.

Topic 3: Application of workflow for channel systems

Channels are major reservoir systems on slopes. We will investigate the downdip changes in channel style across a slope and the associated internal stratigraphic and facies architecture. Channels are very variable and the key is to recognise elements which are common to each as a basis for initial mapping. This allows us to develop a simple but highly effective workflow for systematic analysis of channel systems.

Topic 4: Application of workflow for sheet systems

Sheet sands occur in a wide variety of settings including ponded basis, stepped slopes, and basin floors. However, we can generate an analytical approach and workflow which is applicable in all of these settings. Controls of slope topography will be investigated.

Topic 5: Application of workflow for Mass Transport Complexes

Mass Transport Complexes only very rarely form reservoirs with sustainable production rates in deep water. However, we can recognise many ways in which they can be critical in controlling the distribution and character of reservoirs and as potential seals.

Topic 6: Stratigraphic traps

Stratigraphic traps can be important throughout a basin history from early exploration to new plays in a mature basin. Without strong, calibrated DHI’s they will always be relatively high risk plays. The key is how we can keep them in our prospect portfolio to a point at which we might consider drilling one. We will discuss the significant factors that help us focus on areas with the greatest stratigraphic trapping potential.

Geoscientists working on deepwater sediments, whether in exploration, appraisal, development, or production.

Mike Mayall

Mike Mayall  is a consultant for the oil industry and has also helped develop and deliver industry training courses on ‘Passive margin play concepts’ and ‘Maximising the impact of analogues across the E&P cycle’. He is a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London with a research program on sedimentation and tectonics in slope systems. He also teaches on the Petroleum Geology MSc course. Mike works with the Aberdeen University deep-water PRAXS consortia on developing workflows for interpreting deep-water slope systems. He has numerous publications particularly on deep-water sediments.

Mike started at BP as a sedimentologist in the International group in London and worked on numerous projects from all over the world, particularly in Indonesia, Ireland, Norway and Alaska. He later became manager of the International Sedimentology group and subsequently moved to Houston as manager of an Integrated Reservoir Description group. Mike spent four years in Houston where he was involved in many projects including early exploration and appraisal of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.  On returning to London Mike worked on major projects in the NW shelf of Australia and on clastic and carbonate reservoirs offshore Vietnam. When new giant discoveries were made in deepwater offshore Angola Mike was part of the small BP team which evaluated the discoveries and took them through the BP sanctioning process. During this time Mike was able to interpret the fabulous seismic data, integrate with small multidiscipline teams and work with, and learn from, the operating teams in other major companies. Through this thrilling and exhilarating period Mike was involved in the appraisal and sanctioning of ten major projects in deepwater reservoirs. Thirty four years after starting with BP, Mike retired to become an independent consultant.

Mike’s key skills are in reducing complex technical issues to practical and pragmatic value focused on important element of a project. He is an energetic and passionate advocate of technical quality, teaching and coaching of both young and more experienced professionals. Mike has taught many field and classroom training courses ranging from basic sedimentology and petroleum geology to conducting advanced workshops. Mike has always had strong links with academia and he is enthusiastic about applying research results to industry subsurface problems. Mike has published papers on clay mineralogy, Devonian limestones, shelf edge deltas, tufted algal mats, Miocene carbonates and earthquake beds. His more recent work has been focussed on deepwater reservoirs and he has published a number of papers with colleagues from industry and academia.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD Reading University - The late Triassic (Rhaetian) transgression in SW Britain
MSc Reading University - Sedimentology and it’s Applications
BSc Cardiff University - Geology, Honors

Courses Taught
N533: Deepwater Deposiitional Systems (Virtual Outcrops)
N372: Integrated Subsurface Description in a Working Petroleum System (North Derbyshire, UK)
N477: A Systematic Approach to Defining and Evaluating Stratigraphic and Subtle Combination Traps
N483: Deepwater Stratigraphy and Facies Analysis from Seismic, Well Data and Outcrops

CEU: 2.1 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 21 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
RPS is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. We comply with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is recognised internationally as a standard of excellence in instructional practices.
We issue a Certificate of Attendance which verifies the number of training hours attended. Our courses are generally accepted by most professional licensing boards/associations towards continuing education credits. Please check with your licensing board to determine if the courses and certificate of attendance meet their specific criteria.