Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Basin Analysis

Geochemistry and Petroleum System Modelling

Course Code: N010
Instructors:  Chris Clayton
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
5 days


This course teaches how to use geochemistry in the evaluation of exploration plays and prospects. The key elements to be discussed are the recognition and characterisation of source rocks, 1D and 3D thermal modelling, prediction of petroleum properties, correlation of oils and gases and genesis of biogenic gas deposits. Participants will be better prepared to assess charge risk, source rock effectiveness/ultimate generative potential and predict fluid phase in un-drilled prospects. These parameters are crucial to prospect ranking and decision making in exploration.


Excellent overview of petroleum system focusing on source, generation, expulsion and modeling the parameters with a focus on structural & sedimentary inputs.

Duration and Training Method

This is a classroom course. The ratio of lecture to computer time is approximately 70/30 and consists of a series of lectures interspersed with practical exercises and case studies.

Course Overview

Participants will learn how to:

  1. Examine all relevant data required for constructing a 1D or 3D computer-based basin model, including a sound chronostratigraphic framework, thermal profiles, the impact of unconformities and maturity measurements to calibrate the model.
  2. Determine the limitations and uncertainties inherent in such models.
  3. Analyse source rocks and their petroleum generating potential using the following types of geochemical data: total organic carbon, vitrinite reflectance, Rock-Eval pyrolysis and pyrolysis gas chromatography.
  4. Employ carbon isotopic data, gas chromatographic fingerprints and basic biological markers (GCMS) to undertake basic correlation of oil to oil and oil to source rock and to infer depositional environment of source rocks.
  5. Distinguish the types and origins of natural gas and be able to determine their origin using carbon isotope signatures.
  6. Differentiate the various types of biogenic gas accumulation and be aware of the challenges in modelling their formation.

This course will teach exploration staff and others how to use the various items in the geochemistry toolbox to evaluate play fairways and individual prospects. The key elements to be discussed will be:

  • Recognition and evaluation of source rocks
  • 1D and 3D modelling principles and practices
  • Uncertainties when estimating (1) timing of petroleum generation, (2) expelled products, (3) volumes of oil and gas and (4) prospect charging
  • Prediction of petroleum properties
  • Correlation of oils and gases
  • Genesis of biogenic gas accumulations

1. Introduction

  • Principles of geochemical play fairway and prospect evaluation
  • Basis of basin modelling and inputs required
  • 2. 1D basin modelling

    • Generation and expulsion processes and kinetics
    1. TOC
    2. Rock-Eval parameters: S1, S2, HI, Tmax etc.
    3. Pyrolysis GC
    • Reconstructing burial history
    • Source rock parameters

    3. 3D basin modelling

    • Principles of primary and secondary migration
    • Integration into basin models
    • Phase effects during migration

    4. Petroleum properties and correlation

    • Oil properties and alteration: controls of GOR, API, S content, viscosity etc.
    • Oil correlation: gas chromatography, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, stable isotopes
    • Determining source and maturity of natural gas
    • Alteration processes

    5. Biogenic gas accumulation

    • Methanogenic archaea and how they work
    • Primary biogenic gases
    • Secondary biogenic gases
    • Gas hydrate deposits

    Exploration and Development/Production Geoscientists of any experience who come into contact with geochemistry or basin modelling during their work. Reservoir engineers looking to broaden their understanding of the origin and properties of fluids could also benefit from attendance on this course.

    Chris Clayton

    Chris joined the BP Research Centre in 1982 where he somehow became an organic geochemist. During this time he researched among other things, isotopic behaviour in the petroleum system, kerogen formation processes, biogenic gas generation and controls of petroleum seepage.

    Chris left BP at the end of 1992 and has since worked as an independent consultant in geochemistry and basin modelling to the petroleum, minerals and groundwater industries. He now lives in the middle of nowhere in the heart of the English countryside near Worcester.

    Affiliations and Accreditation
    PhD King’s College London and the Institute of Geological Sciences Isotope Geology Unit, Silica Diagenesis jointly with Chert Formation
    BSc Imperial College, University of London- Geology

    Courses Taught
    N084: Petroleum Generation & Migration
    N010: Petroleum Geochemistry & Basin Modelling



    CEU: 4 Continuing Education Units
    PDH: 40 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.