Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Carbonates

Exploring for Carbonate Reservoirs (Dolomites, Italy)

Course Code: N235
Instructors:  Trevor BurchetteAlberto Riva
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
6 days


This course is targeted at geoscientists and allied disciplines engaged in petroleum exploration in basins where carbonate rocks are anticipated. Through a series of lectures, exercises using wireline logs, seismic and field work in the incomparable Italian Dolomites, participants will obtain a thorough grounding in the controls on the geometries of carbonate platforms, their seismic expression, petroleum systems in which carbonate rocks are key, and the data requirements for assessing carbonate exploration prospects.


Very good training - very good manual and very well documented. Manual very useful in the future.

Duration and Training Method

A seven-day field and classroom course in the Italian Dolomites, comprising outcrop studies combined with exercises and extensive discussion of case studies using subsurface data. Each field day comprises an extended exercise using observation and interpretation to consolidate classroom learning. The proportion of field to classroom time is around 60:40

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Characterise and confidently address the issues specifically related to the exploration for carbonate reservoirs.
  2. Integrate a variety of wireline log and stratigraphic data with seismic datasets through carbonate formations using sequence and seismic stratigraphic principles.
  3. Develop exploration concepts using knowledge of carbonate depositional facies and sequence stratigraphy.
  4. Evaluate trap styles, structural setting and the controls on reservoir quality in carbonate-dominated settings at a range of scales.
  5. Integrate datasets of various kinds to intelligently generate play concepts and generate parameters for use in carbonate prospect generation and evaluation.

The Dolomites of Northern Italy are world-class exposures of carbonate platform facies and related dolomitisation. Those exposures are used in this course to relate carbonate depositional facies to seismic-scale geometries and dolomitisation models.

1. Principles of carbonate sedimentation

Carbonates and clastics compared; Brief introduction to carbonate rocks and the controls on carbonate sedimentation; The "carbonate factory"; Biotic changes through time; "Drowning" events in carbonate systems.

2. Carbonate platform morphologies and facies distributions

Carbonate depositional environments and facies; Applicability of modern environmental analogues; Ramps; Rimmed shelves; Isolated buildups; Epeiric systems; Evolution of carbonate platforms; Intra-shelf basins; Evaporites; Reservoir potential of carbonate platform facies.

3. Sequence stratigraphy and architecture of carbonate systems

Principles of sequence stratigraphy; Carbonate sequence stratigraphy; Icehouse vs greenhouse depositional styles; Cyclicity; Implications for reservoir architecture.

4. Structural controls on platform location and evolution

Structural controls on carbonate platform style and location; Deformation of carbonate successions; Carbonate reservoirs in differing structural regimes.

5. Seismic expression of carbonate systems

Carbonate seismic facies; Seismic stratigraphy of carbonates; Impact on interpretation of limits on seismic resolution.

6. Petroleum systems in a carbonate provinces

Carbonate-dominated petroleum systems; Carbonate play fairways; Trap styles; Source rocks and seals in carbonate systems; Reservoirs styles; Stratigraphic and diagenetic trapping; CO2 and H2S issues in carbonate provinces; Carbonate field case studies.

7. Exploration specifics

Log facies and signatures in carbonate interpretation; Regional correlation and correlation methods; Drilling carbonate prospects safely; Net-to-gross; Production rates from carbonate reservoirs; Use of analogues in exploration; Case studies.

8. Controls on carbonate reservoir quality and producibility

Influence of diagenesis on reservoir quality; Carbonate rock textures and porosity; Porosity vs depth; Karst and unconformities; Dolomitization and reservoir quality; Impact of faults and fractures.

9. Participant case studies/exploration problems

Participants are encouraged to make brief presentations on examples of carbonate exploration problems that are problematic/of interest in a no-notes discussion and analysis session.


Below is a provisional itinerary for the course, details may be subject to change depending on the prevailing weather conditions.

Day 0:

  • All participants arrive
  • Course Introduction and Objectives

Day 1: Classroom lectures and exercises

  • Introduction to carbonate rocks and reservoirs
  • Principal carbonate exploration issues
  • Carbonate platform styles and sequence stratigraphy
  • Seismic expression of carbonate sequence architecture

Day 2: Field excursion

  • Catenaccio / Rosengarten. Dip traverse through a major prograding carbonate platform and sequence stratigraphic divisions

Day 3: Classroom lectures and exercises

  • Exploration concepts in carbonate ramp systems
  • Exploration concepts in rimmed carbonate systems
  • Exploration concepts for isolated buildups and intrashelf basins
  • Structural aspects of carbonate rocks

Day 4: Field excursion

  • Alpe di Siusi/ Seiser Alm. Comparison of the seismic-scale geometric relationships between Ladinian and Carnian platforms, sequence stratigraphic interpretations and reservoir potential

Day 5: Classroom lectures and exercises

  • Carbonate source rocks
  • Fractured carbonate reservoirs and karst
  • Core store visit
  • Parameters for prospect evaluation of carbonate reservoirs

Day 6: Field excursion

  • Sella. Sequence stratigraphic interpretation of an isolated carbonate build-up of Carnian age

Day 7: Field excursion

  • The Latemar (provisonal). Platform interiors and cyclicity, steep platform margins.
  • Diagenesis and dolomitization

Day 8:

  • All depart

The course is principally aimed at geoscientists and allied subsurface staff with more than 3-4 years experience in the industry. Prior experience with carbonate rocks is not essential, although the course is particularly suited to those having some familiarity with carbonate facies and depositional systems. Attendees are assumed to have some experience of seismic and well log interpretation, as well as an understanding of the principles of sequence stratigraphy.

Trevor Burchette

Trevor Burchette studied the sedimentology and stratigraphy of the basal Carboniferous Limestone transgressioin in Wales and SW England. A Royal Society Post-doctoral Fellowship at the Technische Universität, Braunschweig followed, during which he investigated the sedimentology and stratigraphy of Devonian carbonate buildups in northern Germany and Belgium.

Trevor joined BP as a sedimentologist in 1980 where he has been the company’s principle carbonate adviser for over 30 years. Over this period, he has worked mostly international projects in both exploration and development environments. Trevor’s experience is global and has included major projects in Canada, Venezuela, Egypt, N Africa, SE Asia, Russia, and Europe. Over this period, Trevor acquired extensive experience in both carbonate reservoir characterisation and its impact on field performance and development strategies and in regional stratigraphic/exploration studies.  Much of Trevor’s time over the last 13 years has been taken up with projects in the Middle East in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran and Iraq. In Abu Dhabi he was BP geological representative for all of this period at numerous multi-disciplinary peer reviews and technical committee meetings dealing with quality assurance for the two principal national oil companies, ADCO and ADMA.  More recently, Trevor has been involved in regional studies in several areas of the Middle East including the early Cretaceous in the northern Arabian Gulf.

For many years Trevor also led major lab and field courses for BP covering aspects of carbonate exploration and development, most notably in the Dolomites (“Carbonate seismic stratigraphy and exploration models”) and on Mallorca (“Applied carbonate sedimentology”), organised numerous core workshops and field trips, and also ran an internal carbonates web site. For twenty years, he was principle company contact for several external research groups.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Newcastle, UK - Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
BSc University of Cardiff - Geology

Courses Taught
N235:Exploring for Carbonate Reservoirs (Dolomites, Italy)
N236:Addressing Carbonate Reservoir Challenges (Mallorca, Spain)
N336:Carbonate Reservoir Description Based on Core and Well Data (Nottinghamshire, UK)

Alberto Riva

As a specialist on carbonate stratigraphy, sedimentology, karst geology, and geological modelling, Alberto works on various carbonate reservoirs and regional projects that involve the use of subsurface and outcrop analogue data analysis and interpretation, with strong integration among different disciplines.

His background allows him to work not only on stratigraphy and sedimentology, but also on diagenetic studies, seismic interpretation, basin modelling, structural geology and remote sensing. Recently he has also worked on the characterisation of some clastic reservoirs.

Alberto has been the leader of several field trips and an instructor for courses organised for oil companies and professional associations (e.g. AAPG, Nautilus) focusing on sequence stratigraphy in carbonates, on fractured/complex carbonates reservoirs and on basin analysis and modelling.

Alberto has a strong regional background developed through projects in Italy, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Austria, France, Poland, Malta, Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, Tunisia, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iraq (especially Kurdistan), Mauritania (Taoudenni Basin) and Kazakhstan (Precaspian Basin).

- Exploration and development of hydrocarbon reservoirs
- carbonate geology (from Proterozoic to Cenozoic)
- seismic interpretation and sequence stratigraphy
- regional geology
- structural geology
- working on strong integration of G&G disciplines
- geological training

Courses Taught
N235: Exploring for Carbonate Reservoirs (Dolomites, Italy)


CEU: 4.8 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 48 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
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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.