Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Oil and Gas Fundamentals

Introduction to the Upstream Petroleum Industry

Course Code: N602
Instructors:  Easton Wren
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
2 days


The upstream petroleum industry is a complex mixture of technical and non-technical disciplines, with a consequence that many in it do not understand the basic activity and terminology. This course provides an overview of the key aspects of exploration and production (the upstream industry), including geology, exploration fundamentals, risk factors, drilling, formation evaluation, production, unconventional resources, reserve estimations and the history of the oil price.


Excellent high level overview of the upstream oil and gas industry from history, geology, geography, to extraction, and economics. I would definitely recommend this course!

Duration and Training Method

A two-day course comprising lectures and video clips. Participants earn 1.6 CEUs (Continuing Education Credits) or 16 PDHs (Professional Development Hours).

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Understand the key technical activities and business drivers of the upstream oil and gas industry.
  2. Use appropriate terminology to communicate intelligently with company colleagues.
  3. Discuss the role of regulatory agencies in oil and gas development.
  4. Discuss recent trends in the industry, including the role of resource plays and the impact of changing oil and gas prices. 

Day One

  1. Introduction and objectives
    • Understanding the petroleum industry
    • A review of significant historical events
    • The seven sisters
    • The independents
    • The service companies
    • The IOCs and the NOCs
    • The anatomy of an oil company
    • Definition of hydrocarbons
  2. Basic geology
    • A review of the behavior of the planet
      • Mountain building
      • Plate tectonics
    • Petroleum geology
      • The concept of erosion
      • Transportation of sediments by rivers to oceans and the depositional process
      • Rock types
      • The organic theory for the origin of petroleum
      • Porosity and permeability
    • Exploration fundamentals
      • Geology and geophysics
      • Well logs
      • Core
      • Aerial photos
      • Seismic (2D and 3D)
      • Integration of geology and geophysics to build drilling prospects
    • Risk aspects
      • A review of the various risk elements in the industry
      • Pricing
      • Costs
      • Drilling accident
      • Drilling in the wrong place
      • Production decline
      • Risk assessment/chance of success
    • Regulatory agencies
      • The extent to which the oil industry is controlled by government agencies
      • Licensing round
      • Drilling licenses
      • Abandonment procedures
      • Exploration, appraisal and development terms
      • Farmout agreements
      • Relinquishments
    •  Mineral rights, leasing and land
      • The difference between surface rights and mineral rights
      • The historical narrative
      • Royalties
      • PSC and PSA
      • Drill spacing units

Day 2

  1. Drilling the well
    • Historical evolution from cable tool to rotary to top drive
    • Onshore and offshore rigs, the basic elements of a drilling rig
    • Drill pipe and bits
    • Circulation with drilling mud
    • The rotary system and the kelly
    • Tripping
    • Fishing
    • Drilling the well in stages
    • Casing and cementing
  2. Formation evaluation
    • Analysis of all data collected from the wellbore to determine the likelihood of a commercial well
    • Logs, cuttings, core (vertical and sidewall)
    • Pressure data
    • DST
    • Decision to complete
  3. Well completion
    • Process of running production casing
    • Perforation
    • Christmas tree installation
  4. Directional and horizontal drilling
    • Explanation of both types of drilling
    • Rationale and benefit
    • Differences in equipment
    • Costs
    • Application for old oil fields and current shale plays
    • Coiled tubing
    • Underbalanced drilling
  5. Production
    • Ancient and modern techniques
    • Reservoir analogies
    • Separation facilities
    • Decline curves
    • Primary production
    • Secondary production
    • Tertiary production
    • EO
  6. Non-conventional resources
    • A summary of the current “unconventional” resources
    • Shales
    • Oil sands
    • Coalbed methane
    • Tight sandstones
    • Oil shales
    • Gas hydrates
    • Animation of horizontal well with multi-stage frac
  7. Reserves and resources
    • The approach to reserves estimation
    • The definitions of the main categories of proven, probable and possible
    • Oil in place and stock tank barrels
    • The write-downs by shell and other companies
    • Global reserves
  8. The oil price
    • The history of the oil price and the factors driving it
    • The story of OPEC
    • Comparison of petrol/gasoline prices with other liquids

The course is intended for anyone who does not have a familiarity with exploration and production. Within the industry, this includes new-hire subsurface staff as well as non-subsurface staff of any experience level  (such as Drilling, Petroleum Engineering, Finance, Accounting, IT, Land, Administrative Assistants). The course is also suitable for any workers outside the industry who interact with the industry (such as government and service company staff).

The basis for the seminar is that every individual involved in the industry is requested to provide a basic service. It is therefore important that they understand the whole picture to realize where they fit and the significance of their contribution in terms of their company’s objectives. The knowledge learned from this seminar is immediately transferable to the working environment.

Easton Wren

Dr. A. Easton Wren is a geologist/geophysicist with an extensive industry background in executive management, exploration and teaching.  His professional career includes positions with Ray Geophysical in Libya, the United Nations in Uganda, Amoco Canada and PanCanadian Petroleum in Calgary and several junior oil companies with operations in Cameroon, Argentina and Peru.

He has been a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Kansas, Calgary and Mount Royal and in 1987 he served as Distinguished Lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. He has presented technical and non-technical industry courses in numerous countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, S.E. Asia and Australasia. For several years he was the host and producer of CFAC-TV “Science Spectrum” documentary program.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Glasgow, Scotland – Geophysics
B.Sc. University of Glasgow, Scotland – Geology (Honors)
SEG (Society of Exploration Geophysicists) – Emeritus
CSEG (Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists) – Past President, Honorary Member
APEGA (Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta) - Member

Courses Taught
N602 - Introduction to the Upstream Petroleum Industry
N629 - Geophysics for Geologists and Petroleum Engineers

CEU: 1.4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 14 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.