Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Basin Analysis

Geochemistry, Petroleum Systems Modelling, and Charge Evaluation

Course Code: N598
Instructors:  Mark Thompson
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
5 days
10 sessions


Participants will learn how to apply geochemistry in the evaluation of play fairways and prospects, integrating the regional geological framework with prospect evaluation principles and petroleum systems modelling. This will add value to exploration teams through more accurate resource estimation and charge risk assessment, ultimately drilling fewer dry holes or underfilled traps.

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. Understand the science that underpins petroleum migration and accumulation.
  2. Assess the impact of the overall tectonic style in different mega-sequence settings, structural relief, and critically the role of faults and fractures in migration and trapping.
  3. Apply the principles to make better predictions of charge access in prospect evaluation.
  4. Evaluate the limitations and uncertainties inherent in thermal models.
  5. Explain the challenges in assessing primary biogenic gas charge volume.
  6. Employ bulk properties, gas chromatographic fingerprints, biological markers (GCMS) and carbon isotope data to undertake basic correlation of oil to oil and oil to source rock and to infer depositional environment of source rocks.


  • Course overview
  • Future directions in basin and petroleum systems modelling

Thermogenic source rock formation

  • Thermogenic source rock evaluation (TOC, S1, S2, HI, Tmax, etc.,)
  • Case history: Gulf of Mexico - nature and distribution of the various petroleum systems
    • Exercise: GoM Mensa gas field: did we miss thermogenic oil charge or is a source rock absent?
    • Exercise: Where are GoM Norphlet fields sourced from?

Petroleum generation – maturation processes and thermal modelling

  • Petroleum generation - maturation processes and kinetics
  • 1D, 2D and 3D thermal modelling - basis of inputs required
    • Exercise: Thermal stress maps
  • Case history: Western Canada Basin
  • Case history: Williston basin 3D modelling study of the low-permeability petroleum system of the Bakken Formation
  • The use of 3D petroleum migration modelling in exploration, how useful are these models in exploration risking and decision making? 
  • Alternative workflow for petroleum migration modelling – thinking processes to draw schematic charge cartoon, and then with appropriate software (percolation modelling).

Pressure, fluid flow and migration processes

  • Pressure and fluid flow fundamentals
    • Exercise: Water flow – can you predict it on paper?
  • Petroleum expulsion – primary migration processes
  • An overview of petroleum secondary migration guiding principles
  • Case history: Cooper Basin, Australia

Geological models (source-carrier-seal systems)

  • GDE mapping (clastics and carbonate systems)
  • Case history: Pearl River Mouth Basin, South China Sea
    • Exercise: where’s the missing oil charge in southern PRMB?
    • Exercise: Liuhua 11-1 field, what are the dominant factors favouring long distance transport of petroleum?
  • Interpretations of stable isotopic composition of gases

Migration - entrapment

  • Basin scale charge
    • Exercise: Alternative models source and seal
    • Exercise: Well failure analysis, Bintuni Basin, Papua New Guinea
  • Case history and discussion: (Vertical drainage) petroleum system Marco Polo Field, Gulf of Mexico (charge focus, structure relief and seal capacity, migration time lag)
  • Exercise: W Shetlands Basin Palaeocene discoveries

Role of faults

  • Case history: Thunder Horse
  • Trap configuration concept - evaluation of the capillary sealing capacity of all the seal rocks
  • Case history: Columbus Basin, offshore Trinidad: use of fault-seal analysis in understanding petroleum migration in a complexly faulted anticlinal trap

Post well evaluation

  • Case history: Norway and Equatorial Margin
  • Exercise: Mexican Ridges
  • Case history: Brigadier Trend and Ironbark well
  • Exercise: Good luck, bad luck, and Mukluk
  • Case histories: Using shows as a smoking gun

Prospect charge analysis

  • Impact of DHI’s on charge access risking
    • Exercise: Assess southern Mexico offshore exploratory wells charge access risk
  • Charge assessment: procedures for estimating amounts of oil and gas generated, migrated, and trapped in prospects
    • Case history: Perdido Trend and Great White field, GOM
  • Top capillary seal capacity evaluation workflow
  • Case history: Frade and Roncador Fields, Campos Basin

Primary biogenic gas system

  • Primary biogenic gas system – feedstock and how methanogenic archaebacteria work
    • Exercise: Zohr gas field, Nile Delta Egypt
    • Exercise: biogenic gas charge assessment
  • Gas hydrate deposits

Applications of petroleum geochemistry to exploration

  • Petroleum geochemistry
    • Exercise: Using bulk geochemical data to determine source rock organofacies
  • Oil–oil and oil–source rock correlation
    • Exercise: Geochemistry of crude oils from Eastern Indonesia
  • Age diagnostic biological markers
    • Case history North Slope, Alaska
  • Biodegradation effect on oil composition and secondary biogenic gas
    • Exercise: biodegradation risk in North Sea
  • CO2 pollutant gas
    • Exercise: CO2 risk in Song Hong Basin

Concluding remarks and summary of best practice

This course is aimed at geoscientists working on basin, play fairway, and prospect evaluation.

Mark Thompson

Mark is Director of Lurch Oil Consultation Limited and is an Associate member of RPS Nautilus. As well as teaching courses on the Nautilus programme, Mark has been deeply involved in delivering training courses as part of a cohesive exploration capability development programme for a national oil company.

Mark is from Staffordshire in the British Midlands. He went to Cambridge University 1974 to 1977 to do a Natural Sciences degree, specialising in Geology. Mark joined BP straight out of University and successfully developed a career in both exploration and development geology, attaining the position of Senior Exploration Advisor before leaving BP at the end of 2014. He has been involved in many hydrocarbon discoveries worldwide in numerous basins. He was for many years a global coach in BP, where he prepared and taught many internal courses.

Mark’s career has taken him on many postings including Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia and Norway. His main interests include basin analysis, play fairway and prospect analysis. He has published on a wide variety of topics including alternative explanations for depth dependent stretching, heat flow associated with underplating and play fairway analysis. Interests outside geology include walking and orienteering.

Affiliations and Accreditation
MA University of Cambridge - Natural Science, Geology

Courses Taught
N005: Tectonic Controls on Basin Development and Petroleum Systems
N378: Basin Analysis for Petroleum Geoscientists
N380: Seismic Interpretation Workshop: Play Recognition on Passive Margins
N425: Play Analysis for Targeted Prospect Identification
N477: A Systematic Approach to Defining and Evaluating Stratigraphic and Subtle Combination Traps
N522: Integrated Charge Access Evaluation: The Key to Successful Exploration

CEU: 3.5 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 35 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.