Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Reservoir Development

Reservoir Modelling Field Class (Utah, USA)

Course Code: N012
Instructors:  Richard SteeleKarl Stephen
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
5 days


This course examines the workflow from geocellular modelling to flow simulation, seeking to treat reservoir modelling as a single, shared subject. We educate geoscientists in reservoir engineering and petroleum engineers in reservoir geology in the context of the shared methods and objectives of reservoir modelling. Participants work a series of exercises in teams based on high-quality outcrops, considering and developing each as a modelling exercise. Our examples are conventional sandstone reservoirs.  Bad reservoir models destroy or deny value in their downstream products: decisions, development plans and production forecasts.  Most companies have examples hidden in the archives – field developments that are under-sized, over-sized, badly-designed or just plain uneconomic.  This class aims to educate to avoid those ugly outcomes.  It provides reservoir engineers with the geology and geologists with the reservoir engineering to recognise when the defaults lead to undermodelling  (i.e. models that lack critical elements of the flow structure) and to ask, “Ok, we built the model.  Now, what’s wrong with it?  What might be missing that would mess the forecasts?” 


This course has been first class in helping me to understand the difficulty involved in translating complex (or even relatively simple!) rocks into a 3D model for simulation.

Duration and Training Method

A five-day field course in Utah with lectures and classroom exercises. The proportion of field and classroom time is approximately 70/30.

We use outcrops and models to show geologists what is important for flow, why some geology should be ignored and to show reservoir engineers why that assessment can be complicated. Tutor Steele is a geologist; tutor Stephen is a reservoir engineer.

The culminating exercise requires teams to make a field development plan based on an oilfield-sized outcrop and a set drilling budget. The resulting plans are modelled and ranked on Net Present Value and Ultimate Recovery. Much learning results. Entertainment too, because participants tend to be competitive and we have an archive of development plans going back a decade.

The teaching is supported by a comprehensive Field Guide and separate Course Manual.

Course Overview

 Participants will learn to:

  1. Assess how best to represent in reservoir models the flow and storage properties of rocks and fluid-flow processes
  2. Judge the weaknesses of present reservoir modelling methods and how to mitigate those deficiencies by appropriate model design and workflow choices
  3. Assess the geological requirements of geomodels, the reservoir engineering requirements of flow simulation models in both depletion and displacement recovery and the dilemmas that have to be resolved to create effective reservoir models
  4. Actionable geological representations as a basis for geomodel design, giving appropriate consideration to fluid type, recovery process, geology and the petroleum engineering challenge
  5. Assess fault geometry, fault rock properties, fault seal and structural geological controls on reservoir complexity, and how these are incorporated into reservoir models.

The excellent and famous exposures of diverse sandstone formations of the Colorado Plateau provide an exceptional field laboratory for the investigation of reservoir architecture, heterogeneity and compartmentalisation.


The exercises on the class follow a pattern:

  1. Make geological observations and interpretations at superb outcrops with a focus on properties affecting fluid flow and storage
  2. Explain how the geology works and show how it would flow using the output of a reservoir model constructed from the outcrop, picking out thematic sets of sensitivities
  3. Debate questions of reservoir model design, with due reference to fluid and recovery process
  4. Build follow-up reservoir engineering and geology tutorials out of each exercise

The exercises are configured and coordinated to show the widest range of geological and petroleum engineering topics that can be fit into 5 days.

The geoscientists get to understand the flow properties better, the reservoir engineers learn relevant geology and all participants improve their knowledge of the modelling workflow.


Day 0:
Outward travel and overnight in Grand Junction, Colorado

Day 1:

  • Introduction to the field area; logistics, HSE; how the class works
  • Current challenges in reservoir modelling
  • Flow modelling themes
  • Fieldwork: regional overview and the set-up amid the spectacular scenery of the Colorado National Monument. How geologists make up their pausible fairy stories about rocks and how reservoir engineers apply the maths of fluid flow in porous media, including the results of a flow model of the outcrop at the outcrop.

Overnight in Green River, Utah

Day 2:

  • Fieldwork: gathering data to understand the reservoir architecture of the Grassy Member, a shoreface sandstone; a model of the outcrop at the outcrop
  • Classroom: Assembling those data for field-scale reservoir modelling

Overnight in Green River, Utah


Day 3:

  • Classroom: Finalising models; presentations; discussion around the previously prepared geomodel and the simulator
  • Fieldwork: Gathering outcrop data: shoreface, incised-valley fills and alluvial sandstones of the Desert and Castlegate; building a pattern-scale model
  • Team presentations at the outcrop

Overnight Moab, Utah

Day 4:

  • Classroom: Follow-up presentations to Day 3, introduction to Day 4
  • Fieldwork: Fault characterisation and modelling: The Moab Fault
  • Observing faults with throw from 1 mm to 1 km; intra-reservoir faults and reservoir-bounding faults and their effects on fluid flow

Overnight Moab, Utah

Day 5:

  • Fieldwork: Mixed fluvial, lacustrine and aeolian reservoirs of the Cutler Formation
  • Fieldwork exercise: replicating the development of a marginally economic field. Teams will be given a drilling budget and asked to devise a development plan
  • Team presentations at the outcrop
  • Classroom: Simulation results based on the development plans: which is best? Followed by a summary presentation then dinner in Grand Junction.

Overnight Grand Junction, Colorado

Day 6:

Homeward travel

This course is multi-disciplinary. It is designed for geoscientists, petroleum engineers and petrophysicists involved in designing, building and assessing reservoir models. The team exercises will include a mixture of participants from different subsurface disciplines.

Richard Steele

Richard has been a geologist in the oil and gas industry for a while and currently works as an independent consultant. Starting in 1982 with a B.Sc. in Geology with Geophysics and a PhD in sedimentology, the only plan has been to stay technical. It went like this:

11 years at BP in various UK locations as a sedimentologist in central and asset teams working onshore and offshore fields. This included a first encounter with reservoir modelling in 1983, feeding geology to a group of reservoir engineers playing with a brand-new toy called Eclipse, and a vicarious experience of Odin’s STORM programme for modelling channel sands.

3 years as a production geologist on a Shell posting in Petroleum Development Oman working a wide variety of reservoirs and fluids, with second-hand exposure on one reservoir to the Shell geomodelling package called Monarch. On the field with most activity, it was the guy who came after Richard who built the first geomodel.

6 years with Enterprise Oil in London and Rome on carbonate reservoirs in Italy and the Middle East.  Richard was the geologist in the team that in 2000 was volunteered to try out a new toy called Petrel. 6 years as Technical Manager at Nautilus in Berkshire, teaching M12 and several other classes and watching the programme grow by a factor of about 5.

6 years at BG Group in the UK as Deputy Chief Geologist then Head of Development Geoscience, specialising in being opinionated about the oil and gas fields and reservoir models of other geologists. Richard saw the power and practice of integrated reservoir modelling move on quite a lot and kept himself amused by winding up reservoir engineers.

Richard was re-homed in October 2014 as a user and development geologist at Tullow Oil in London, working development planning of a bunch of fields in Uganda with fascinating geoscience and petroleum engineering challenges.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD Sedimentology
BSc Geology with Geophysics
External Examiner at Aberdeen University for the MSc in Petroleum Geoscience

Courses Taught
N012: Reservoir Modelling Field Class (Utah, USA)
N524: The Application of Reservoir Geology through the Exploration and Production Life Cycle

Karl Stephen

Karl is Professorial Chair of EOR at the Universiti Tecknologi Petronas, Malaysia and also at the Institute of Petroleum Engineering (IPE), Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Physics and a PhD in Theoretical and Computational Physics. Karl has been working at IPE for 20 years. In November 2016 he took up the position at UTP. His research interests include geological processes and their impact on flow via upscaling, history matching including the use of time-lapse seismic, optimization, flow in shale gas reservoirs, simulation of EOR and appropriate modelling of oil and gas reservoirs.

Since 2004 he has managed the Seismic History Matching Project, contributed to the Edinburgh Time Lapse Project and ran an industry sponsored project on upscaling and history matching. Karl has also worked on several consultancy projects including upscaling and EOR. During his career in research Karl has worked with data, models and simulations from a number of oil and gas fields including four turbidite, two shallow marine, one aeolian and one chalk field. Karl has over 80 publications, including 30 peer-reviewed papers.

Karl is leader of the Reservoir Simulation course that is taught as part of the MSc’s in Petroleum Engineering as well as Reservoir Evaluation and Management at IPE. Karl has also taught Reservoir Simulation at the ENI Corporate University, Milan. Karl will shortly teach Reservoir Simulation at UTP to Undergraduate and MSc level.

Karl is a referee for Tectonophysics, SPE Journal, SPE Reservoir Evaluation, Journal of Geophysics and Engineering, Oil and Gas Science and Technology – Review, Petroleum Geoscience, Transport in Porous Media, Marine and Petroleum Geology and Computational Geoscience and was a Distinguished Lecturer for the EAGE in 2010.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD Theoretical and Computational -  Physics
BSc Physics, Honors
SPE Journal - Referee
SPE Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering - Referee
Reservoir Geophysics and Engineering - Referee
EAGE Distinguished Lecturer (2010)

Courses Taught
N012: Reservoir Modelling Field Class
N961: Strategic Reservoir Simulation

CEU: 4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
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