Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Clastics

Shallow Marine Reservoir Analogues and their Application to the Jurassic of the North Sea (Isle of Skye and Raasay, UK)

Course Code: N499
Instructors:  Ronald Steel
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
5 days


The objective of this field course is to examine the Jurassic shallow marine reservoirs of the Hebridean Basins.  Discussions will highlight the linkage between active tectonics and depositional processes and will emphasise the importance of a sequence stratigraphic perspective in order to correlate.  Outcrop information is integrated with well data across a range of scales to demonstrate the subsurface workflows required to populate interwell areas of reservoir models.  Reservoir architecture and heterogeneity will be addressed in the context of fluid flow, development planning and reservoir management and surveillance.

This trip is relevant for shoreface reservoirs such as the Fulmar and the Ula Formations of the Central North Sea, but also the Brent Group (Broom, Rannoch, Etive and Tarbert Formations) of the Northern North Sea.  The scale of the outcrops offer a regional scale of investigation that will be useful for explorationists but the outcrops also provide an excellent opportunity to discuss shallow marine reservoir characterisation and performance.


"Fantastic course, very well organised and taught by very enthusiastic trainer - v. applicable to N. Sea Jurassic reservoirs."

Duration and Training Method

A five-day field course which comprises fieldwork and associated exercises, supported by evening presentations and discussions. The proportion of field to classroom time is approximately 70/30.  The fieldwork is supplemented by reservoir analogues from key North Sea fields.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:
  1. Describe shallow marine facies in a consistent manner
  2. Assess the genetic processes which produce various sedimentary structures, bioturbation, diagenetic features etc.  
  3. Explain why the structural framework and degree of tectonic activity at time of deposition underpins the reservoir stacking patterns and heterogeneity in shallow marine systems.
  4. Evaluate the extent to which the palaeocoast can be correctly oriented, offshore and onshore (proximal to distal) assessed and net to gross predicted in such systems.
  5. Provide a frame for a reservoir description including the key architectural elements that will likely govern reservoir behaviour.
  6. Evaluate how reservoir quality impacts recovery in typical shallow marine reservoirs.  Comparison of bottom water vs. edge water sweep and linkage between structural framework and depositional processes in order to optimally locate infill wells to optimise sweep for a range of architectural cases.
  7. Describe how flow units could be defined and may operate during production.  Discuss the way in which heterogeneities may impact production, perforation strategies and or injection / sweep depending on fluid type and drive mechanism.
  8. Discuss how tidal channels would be / should be handled in a reservoir modelling and simulation context.



Shallow marine clastic depositional processes are economically critical to understand as vast quantities of the North Sea's hydrocarbons are reservoired in Fulmar, Ula and Brent shoreface type reservoirs.  

During the course, participants will learn to describe and characterise shallow marine clastic deposits based upon a sound understanding of sedimentary processes.  Attendees will acquire the necessary skills, methods and approaches needed to relate facies and architectural variations to both local and basinal contexts. 

The development of these reservoir types in actively subsiding half grabens leads to particular geometries and architectures that vary both spatially and temporally at a range of scales.  This course provides the tools to allow participants to predict net to gross.  They will also gain experience in assessing the appropriateness of analogues for use in the subsurface and will begin to consider how to frame the building of a reservoir model.

In addition to the abundance of reservoir analogues, the Skye and Raasay field areas also include examples of source, seal and exhumed traps in a region perfectly suited to review all the elements of the petroleum system.   


Day 1:

Depart from Aberdeen /  Inverness

General geology of Scotland during journey

Course introduction and safety briefing

The geology of Skye

Bearreraig Sandstone Formation Overview

Day 2: Field and Lecture

Travel to Bearreraig Bay to see the type site of the Bearreraig Sandstone Formation

Introductory lecture on shallow marine processes

Exercise:  Produce a sequence stratigraphic summary of the Bearreraig Bay Outcrop and Upper Glen I well

Review the specific field aims for Day 2: make a prediction of the proximal to distal variation on the dip slope of an active half graben and discuss reservoir prediction results including Upper Glen I well

Day 3: Field and Lecture

Take ferry to Raasay and describe tilted fault block structures at oil field scale

Travel to Screapadal: Examination of proximal stacking patterns including tidal channels

Discussion of the importance of channelised sedimentary architectures in production

Summary lecture: 

Review of key insights from the field and review half-graben correlations

Review specific field aims for Day 3: a prediction of shallow marine processes and products in tidal straits

Day 4: Field and Lecture

Drive to Glasnakille on the Strathaird Penninsula

Bathymetric confinement effects due to narrow half graben.  Rates of subsidence and sedimentation.  Depositional styles and signatures in tidal straits.

Continue on to see the Elgol Sandstone Formation 

Summary lecture:

Review the reservoir potential of deposits in a tidal strait discussing compartmentalisation (both stratigraphic and igneous dykes) and a tank of sand versus homogeneously heterogeneous descriptions?

Review of key insights from the field trip as a whole, including a palaeogeographic summary and synthesise key take home messages for participants.

Day 5:

Travel back to Aberdeen / Inverness

Stopping to see modern examples of fluvio-deltaic systems on the way.

Geoscientists who have worked with clastic depositional systems and want to further improve their understanding, interpretation skills and predictive ability of reservoir properties encountered within shallow marine depositional environments.  Petrophysicists, reservoir engineers or productions engineers who wish to gain a better understanding of the subsurface and view at first hand the anatomy of a classic reservoir type.

The Hebridean Basins are the perfect location for multi-disciplinary teams to come together to collaborate and interact with highly suitable analogues as a backdrop for targeted discussions that will add value to any asset.

Ronald Steel

Ron is a Professor at UT Austin (Emeritus from Sept. 2020) teaching Clastic Sedimentary Systems, Sequence Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis. Ron is also an Emeritus 6th-Century Professor at Aberdeen University, an Honorary Professor at Heriot-Watt University and a new tutor for RPS.

Ron is PhD from the University of Glasgow and has been Professor at the University of Bergen, University of Wyoming and The University of Texas, Austin. He was also Chief Geologist at Norsk Hydro in Bergen and Oslo.

Key research topics have been to gain an understanding of the time scales, sediment delivery by deltas and other mechanisms, sediment budget partitioning and growth styles of shelves and shelf margin sedimentary prisms. Ron has published over 200 scientific papers, edited 11 books and supervised some 200 MS and PhD graduate students in Norway and the USA.

Affiliations and Accreditation
BSc & PhD, University of Glasgow
Emeritus 6th-Century Professor, University of Aberdeen
Honorary Professor, Heriot-Watt University
Emeritus Davis Centennial Chair, Univesity of Texas, Austin

Courses Taught
N514: Shelf Margin Shallow Marine Deltaics to Deepwater Turbidites: Sedimentology and Sequence Stratigraphy (Wyoming, USA)
N520: Coastal, Deltaic and Shallow Marine Clastic Reservoir Characterisation

CEU: 4.0 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.
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