Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Unconventional Resources

The Petroleum System in Unconventional Exploration & Production: Geology, Geochemistry and Basin Modeling

Course Code: N471
Instructors:  Andy Pepper
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
4 days
8 sessions

Next Event

Location: Virtual
Date:  17th - 20th Oct 2022
Start Time: 14:00 BST
Event Code: N471a22V
Fee From: USD $3,915 (exc. Tax)


Business Impact: This class will arm geologists and engineers with advanced capabilities to: identify, map and evaluate new plays; identify storage and production sweet spots in plays; identify vertical/by-passed storage and production sweet spots to optimize landing zones in new and existing plays.

The course teaches how to use regional geology, geochemistry and petroleum systems modeling in evaluating unconventional/resource play reservoirs. The processes discussed range from deposition of the organic-rich rock; generation, expulsion, migration and accumulation processes leading to saturation of the reservoir; to the prediction of reservoir and produced fluid properties and values.


"This course was excellent and covered a breadth of topics. I really enjoyed the progression and seeing how I can use these topics in my exploration workflows."


Event Code: N471a22V
Sessions: 8 sessions
Instructors: Andy Pepper
Dates: 17th - 20th Oct 2022
Start Time: 14:00 BST
Location: Virtual
Fee From
USD $3,915 (exc. Tax)
Good Availability
Please login to book.

Duration and Training Method

This is a classroom or virtual classroom course comprising a mixture of lectures, discussion, case studies quizzes, and practical exercises.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:
  1. Understand modern approaches to categorizing source rocks: their potential and distribution.
  2. Establish the link between organic matter and petroleum: the organofacies scheme and the geochemistry and composition of oil & gas.
  3. Identify how the thermics of sedimentary basins and kinetics/organic matter quality control expelled petroleum volumes and compositions.
  4. Understand the effects of pressure and capillarity: petroleum migration and accumulation are flip-sides of the same process, controlling reservoir saturation patterns.
  5. Differentiate between potentially producible fluid vs. immobile sorbed petroleum in organic-rich reservoirs.
  6. Employ sweet-spot mapping of well performance from a pressure and fluid perspective, and fluid prediction using advanced pyrolysis methods in well samples.


This class uses modern petroleum systems (geochemistry and thermal/fluid flow modeling) approaches, including some all-new modeling of petroleum saturation and composition in unconventional reservoirs. No prior knowledge of geochemistry and basin modeling is required: the class contains all the information needed for a geoscientist to understand the ‘unconventional’ petroleum system, building upon an understanding of geology and reservoir engineering principles. The class is also suitable for reservoir engineers working unconventional plays, who wish to understand the fundamentals of unconventional reservoir geology.


Charge | Source Rock Potential - 'The Feedstock’

  • Measurements of organic richness and potential
  • How organic matter (OM) in source rocks is deposited: variations in distribution, thickness, organic carbon content and organic matter type (organofacies)
  • How source rock volumetric potential and system gas/oil potential can be quantified (ultimate expellable potential)

Charge | ‘Making the Petroleum’

  • Modeling generation of petroleum from, and sorption of petroleum in, OM
  • Understanding thermal stress levels for oil and gas generation from, and cracking of sorbed oil to gas in, OM  
  • Prediction of petroleum composition expelled from OM: gas-oil ratio (GOR)


Charge | ‘Moving the Petroleum’

  • Sorbed vs. fluid petroleum phases in OM-rich rocks
  • Petroleum fluid phase behavior
  • Migration/saturation of the fluid phase within, and adjacent to, the source bed
  • Migration into the conventional fluid system - the 'flip side' of unconventional reservoir storage

Trap | Seal and Column ‘Building the Petroleum Saturation'

  • Controls on pressure evolution in sedimentary basins 
  • Controls on saturation in reservoir rocks: hydrodynamics, buoyancy, capillary entry pressure and interfacial tension 
  • Recognizing the unconventional reservoir as a petroleum system: source, reservoir and seal
  • Capillary pressure and architecture of saturation patterns in unconventional reservoirs

Reservoir | Storage ‘Storing the Petroleum'

  • ‘Unconventional' core measurements of porosity and saturation - effects of Dean-Stark cleaning
  • Measuring and modeling sorbed vs. mobile fluid phase saturations
  • Profiles of fluid phase saturation in ‘classic’ unconventional petroleum plays
  • Fluid phase properties: predicting GOR and Formation Volume Factor
  • Petroleum-In-Place sweet-spot logging and mapping - Permian Basin Wolfcamp example 

Reservoir | Deliverability ‘Producing the Petroleum'

  • Pressure - a key limitation on delta-P
  • Modeling fluid viscosity in unconventional reservoir fluids
  • Petroleum deliverability/rate sweet-spot logging and mapping - Permian Basin Wolfcamp example

Product | ‘Valuing the Petroleum'

  • Properties of the produced liquid stream that affect sales value
  • Properties of the produced gas stream that affect sales value

Exploration and development/production geoscientists and reservoir engineers who need to understand the fundamentals of how the petroleum system works to determine fluid saturation and composition in unconventional/resource plays.


Andy Pepper


Andy Pepper began his career as a geologist at BP in 1981. In 1985 he was assigned to the Geochemistry Branch at BP’s research center, where he helped BP’s exploration teams perform geochemistry and basin modeling assessments, and went on to research, among other subjects, kinetic models of petroleum formation. These models remain industry standard today - becoming a core component of the Trinity software (for example) offered by Zetaware in 2000. Transitioning back to the exploration business in the North Sea, he co-authored BP’s Petroleum Geoscience Handbook and was then posted to Jakarta to support BP’s exploration team in geochemistry and basin modeling in the East Java Sea. In 1994, he was posted to Houston where he supported the BP team that opened the deep water Gulf of Mexico sub-salt play including application of early 2-D sectional modeling of pressure, temperature, petroleum charge and column capacity. While in Houston, Andy became the leader of the Global Geochemistry Network which at the time of the Amoco/Arco merger was expanded to integrate basin modeling into the new Petroleum Systems Network - regarded as one of the four "pillars" of geoscience in the company, with requirement for all geoscientists to attend a purpose-designed in-house class. Andy’s served on the ‘Exploration Excellence’ prospect assurance team and his prospect evaluation risk matrix was adopted as a global standard in the early 2000’s.

Andy joined Hess in 2003 as Chief Geologist on the Exploration Leadership Team; was seconded to the head office as Advisor to the head of E&P in 2006 and returned to Houston to New Ventures in 2008 culminating in a role as Director of New Ventures (conventional and unconventional). From 2007 onwards, he gained increasing experience in unconventionals beginning in Hess’ Bakken play and culminating in a screening of unconventional opportunities globally, including play analysis in China and Australia.

in 2012, Andy joined BHP Billiton as VP of Geoscience on the Exploration Leadership Team: a functional role including provision of expert skills with a team of ~80 staff in all geologic, petrophysical and geological disciplines. He established BHP’s Volume, Risk and Value prospect evaluation methodology. BHP had just bought PetroHawk and this provided a rare opportunity to design BHP’s integrated unconventional geoscience workflows from scratch. From 2014 onward, he served as VP Unconventional Exploration, with emphasis on the Permian Basin which was in the early stages at that time. Andy led this team to perform a Global Endowment study for unconventionals that informed BHP’s corporate view of future global potential.

In 2015 Andy left BHP to set up This is Petroleum Systems LLC (aka TIPS), dedicated to ‘unfinished business’ in advancing the role of petroleum systems in E&P. TIPS delivers training, research, tool development and studies in both unconventional and conventional E&P. Current emphasis in unconventionals is in developing tools to better understand true (potentially producible) fluid saturations.

Andy has co-authored numerous written papers in Marine & Petroleum Geology, and presented oral papers at AAPG and other conventions, all in the field of petroleum systems analysis.

Affiliations & Accreditation
BSc University of Leeds - Geologic Sciences 1st Class Honors
AAPG, GCSEPM and Geol. Soc. London - Member
AAPG/EMD Unconventional Research Group - Co-Chair
School of Earth & Environment, Faculty of Environment at Leeds University - Visiting Academi

Courses Taught
N250:  Evaluation Methods for Shale Reservoirs
N471:  The Petroleum System in Unconventional Exploration & Production: Geology, Geochemistry and Basin Modeling
N559:  Petroleum Geology of Unconventional Plays – What Makes Them “Work”?
RM03: Introduction to Fluid Saturations and Properties in Unconventional ‘Shale’ Reservoir

CEU: 3.2 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 32 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.