D477 A Systematic Approach to Defining and Evaluating Stratigraphic and Subtle Combination Traps (Distance Learning)

Event Facts

  • 23 Nov. 2020
  • 24 Nov. 2020
  • 25 Nov. 2020
  • 30 Nov. 2020
  • 1 Dec. 2020
  • 2 Dec. 2020
  • 3 Dec. 2020
  • 4 Dec. 2020
Courses consist of a series of 2-3 hour webinar sessions starting at 14:00 London and 08:00 Houston time. Any variation to this will be communicated in the courses joining instructions
Event Code:
8 sessions
Mark Thompson, Mike Mayall, Stuart Archer
Booking Status:
Limited Availability
GBP £3,320 (Exclusive of tax)

Course Facts

Course Code:
4 days
Virtual Classroom
3.2 Continuing Education Units
32 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


Business Impact: Many stratigraphic and combination traps are discovered serendipitously, throughout a basin’s exploration history. They are often perceived as high risk and volumes are commonly underestimated, especially where the column height is larger than the structural spill.  In this course we will develop a consistent and systematic workflow for the deliberate identification and evaluation of such traps.  This is important as these subtle traps often get risked in an inconsistent manner across organisations but they can contain significant resources. Course participants will acquire the necessary skills to enhance value for their employers by identifying new prospects, performing robust geological risk assessments, and generating more accurate resource volume assessments

Topics include classification schemes; defining a regional framework; formulation of a geological model; trap domains; regional angular unconformities; stratigraphic edges; risking and volumetrics.

Duration and Training Method

A virtual classroom course divided into 8 three-hour webinar sessions (equivalent to a four-day classroom course), comprising a number of informative exercises designed to get across the principles, punctuated by a series of short talks.

Greater than 50% of the time will be spent on exercises guided by industry experts with more than 35 years of experience each. Case histories are taken from a rich variety of tectonic settings and a large variety of depositional environments, both for carbonates and clastics.

Participants will learn to:
  1. Apply a methodical  approach, through a systematic workflow, to identify stratigraphic and subtle combination traps within the appropriate tectonic and sequence stratigraphic context. 
  2. Appreciate the rich set of analogue fields world-wide in various plate tectonic and mega-sequence settings for both carbonates and clastic reservoirs.  Deploy these analogues to help guide exploration in similar basins.
  3. Evaluate prospects involving stratigraphic and subtle combination traps in terms of risk and resource estimation uncertainties.
  4. Work to deliver an efficient exploration screening result in a “learning by doing” scenario, applying the workflow taught on the course.

 1. Introduction

  • Classification schemes, understand the impact and importance of stratigraphic and subtle combination traps globally. Review the track record over last few decades.
  • Exercise: Trap description methodology in terms of trap edges.

2. Regional framework: plate tectonic and mega-sequence settings for traps in carbonates and clastics

  • Regional Framework:
    • Megasequences.
    • Location of analogue traps in extensional settings.
    • Location of analogue traps in compressional settings.
    • Description by systems tracts.
  • Trap identification and classification (Exercise) – N Slope Alaska.

3. Integrated geological model: a revision of critical aspects of prospect elements

  • Formulation of a geological model: 
    • Role of pre-existing and syn-depositional topography on reservoir GDE’s. Growth structures. The importance of sediment entry points and dispersal.
    • Impact of top seal thickness and environment of deposition.
    • Effects of early hydrocarbon generation synchronous with quartz cementation.
    • Concept of the first carrier. Coupled systems (source in close proximity, above or below the reservoir).
    • Migration foci - importance of chasing the molecules.
    • Seal effectiveness v available charge.
  • Trap domains maps talk.

4. Regional angular unconformities

  • Super-crop and sub-crop maps, case history LKU N Slope.
  • 2 exercises: SNS and Gippsland.

5. Stratigraphic edges – pinch-outs and erosional truncation

  • Defining play-scale pinch out geometries on seismic data.
    • Exercises –Senegal, Sergipe.
  • Defining paralic prospect scale stratigraphic traps.
    • Talk paralic traps.
    • Exercise - Brookian N Slope.
  • Defining deep-water prospect-scale stratigraphic traps. Including lobes, channels, MTC’s and ‘waste zones’.
    • Exercises –Senegal, Sergipe, Guyana, Angola, Jubilee.
  • Defining carbonate prospect-scale stratigraphic traps talk.

6. Aspects of risking and volumetrics

  • Use of seismic attributes and direct hydrocarbon indicators (DHI’s). Seismic limitations such as data quality, resolution, dip limitations. 3 cases for discussion.
  • Risking guidelines and pitfalls. Relative risking with structural traps.
  • BRV criteria: Importance of defining the geological model(s) – depth conversion, impact on resource estimation uncertainties, including reservoir quality changes towards pinch-outs, and possible volume underestimation. Exercise to emphasize dependency between column height and available charge volumes.
  • Learning from well failures using a ‘failure criteria lookback methodology’ North Sea Case History. West of Shetland case history and exercise.
  • Portfolio Management Exercise.

7. “The edges of the wedges”: a suggested work flow (talk)

8. Kopervik exercise

  • Participants will apply the work flow and lessons from the previous part of the course on a seismic dataset from the North Sea.
  • Define the regional setting, construct a play cartoon, draw a trap domain map, and discuss risking and portfolio management of identified stratigraphic traps.

Who should attend

This Skilled Application level course is aimed at exploration geoscientists with experience of seismic interpretation and a firm grasp of stratigraphic concepts and the fundamentals of petroleum systems. Team leaders and managers of exploration teams could also benefit from participation in this course.

Prerequisites and linking courses

There are no specific prerequisites for this course, although familiarity with seismic interpretation would be beneficial, such as that acquired on N085 (Introduction to Seismic Interpretation) or N040 (Interpretation of 3D Seismic Data).

Related field courses in structural geology include N016 (Structural Geology for Petroleum Exploration, Nevada, USA) and N116 (Structural Geology for Petroleum Exploration, SW England).

Mark Thompson

Mark is from Staffordshire, the Midlands, UK. He went to Cambridge University 1974 to 1977 to do a Natural Sciences degree specialising in geology.

Mark joined BP straight out of University and successfully developed a career in both exploration and development geology attaining the position of Senior Exploration Advisor before leaving BP at the end of 2014 to form Lurch Oil Consultation Limited. In April 2015 he joined Nautilus as an Associate member.

His career with BP took him to on many postings including Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia and Norway. His main interests include basin analysis, play fairway and prospect analysis. He has been involved in many hydrocarbon discoveries worldwide in numerous basins. He was for many years a global coach in BP and has taught (and indeed prepared) many internal courses. He has published on a wide variety of topics including alternative explanations for depth dependent stretching, heat flow associated with underplating and play fairway analysis. Interests outside geology include walking and orienteering.

Affiliations and Accreditation
MA University of Cambridge - Natural Science, Geology

Courses Taught
N005: Tectonic Controls on Basin Development and Petroleum Systems
N378: Basin Analysis for Petroleum Geoscientists
N380: Seismic Interpretation Workshop: Play Recognition on Passive Margins
N425: Play Analysis for Targeted Prospect Identification
D425: Play Analysis for Targeted Prospect Identification (Distance Learning)
N477: A Systematic Approach to Defining and Evaluating Stratigraphic and Subtle Combination Traps
D477: A Systematic Approach to Defining and Evaluating Stratigraphic and Subtle Combination Traps (Distance Learning)
N705/N707: Exploration Capability Development Program - Basin Analysis - Carbonates and Deepwater Systems
N706/N708: Exploration Capability Development Program - Basin and Play Evaluation - Carbonates and Deepwater Systems

Stuart Archer

Stuart is responsible for the geoscientific content in the RPS Training portfolio. He also has a role in the marketing of RPS training products. He is based at the RPS Energy office in Woking, Surrey.

From 1996 to 2008, Stuart was employed by ConocoPhillips in Aberdeen and Houston. He held positions as an exploration geologist, working on frontier projects in the UK and Irish Atlantic Margin and the Gulf of Mexico, and as an appraisal and development geologist on the Britannia and Jasmine Fields in the Central North Sea. In 2009, Stuart took up the position of Director of exploHUB at the University of Aberdeen, which was a ground breaking training centre for hydrocarbon exploration with a teaching philosophy of learning by doing. Since 2014, Stuart has held various exploration assurance positions with Dana Petroleum, Maersk Oil and Total, most recently in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Stuart’s research interests are in the area of clastic sequence stratigraphy and emphasising its key role in the exploration and development of natural resources. Stuart is a natural integrator and enjoys working in multi-disciplinary teams. He recognises the importance of collaboration to solve complex problems and is passionate about releasing the power of teams.


Affiliations and Accreditation
Honorary Research Associate – University of Glasgow, School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
PhD University of Aberdeen
MSc University of Aberdeen - Petroleum Geology
BSc University of Glasgow - Geology and Geography

Courses Taught
D477: A Systematic Approach to Defining and Evaluating Stratigraphic and Subtle Combination Traps (Distance Learning)
D520: Coastal, Deltaic and Shallow Marine Clastic Reservoir Characterisation (Distance Learning)
N499: Shallow Marine Reservoir Analogues and their Application to the Jurassic of the North Sea (Isle of Skye and Raasay, UK)
N514: Deltaic and Shallow Marine Sequence Stratigraphy and Sedimentology (Wyoming, USA)
W011: North Sea Reservoirs Series - New Perspectives on North Sea Plays (Distance Learning)
W013: North Sea Reservoirs Series - Devonian Reservoirs Overview (Distance Learning)
W017: North Sea Reservoirs Series - Triassic Reservoirs Overview (Distance Learning)
W026: North Sea Reservoirs Series - Central North Sea (CNS) Overview (Distance Learning)

Mike Mayall

Mike started at BP as a sedimentologist in the International group in London and worked on numerous projects from all over the world, particularly in Indonesia, Ireland, Norway and Alaska. He later became manager of the International Sedimentology group and subsequently moved to Houston as manager of an Integrated Reservoir Description group. Mike spent four years in Houston where he was involved in many projects including early exploration and appraisal of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.  On returning to London Mike worked on major projects in the NW shelf of Australia and on clastic and carbonate reservoirs offshore Vietnam.

When new giant discoveries were made in deepwater offshore Angola Mike was part of the small BP team which evaluated the discoveries and took them through the BP sanctioning process. During this time Mike was able to interpret the fabulous seismic data, integrate with small multidiscipline teams and work with, and learn from, the operating teams in other major companies. Through this thrilling and exhilarating period Mike was involved in the appraisal and sanctioning of ten major projects in deepwater reservoirs.

Mike’s key skills are in reducing complex technical issues to practical and pragmatic value focused on important element of a project. He is an energetic and passionate advocate of technical quality, teaching and coaching of both young and more experienced professionals. Mike has taught many field and classroom training courses ranging from basic sedimentology and petroleum geology to conducting advanced workshops. Mike has always had strong links with academia and he is enthusiastic about applying research results to industry subsurface problems.

Mike has published papers on clay mineralogy, Devonian limestones, shelf edge deltas, tufted algal mats, Miocene carbonates and earthquake beds. His more recent work has been focussed on deepwater reservoirs and he has published a number of papers with colleagues from industry and academia. Thirty four years after starting with BP, Mike retired to become an independent consultant.

Mike now is a consultant for the oil industry and has also helped develop and deliver industry training courses on ‘Passive margin play concepts’ and ‘Maximising the impact of analogues across the E&P cycle’. He is a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London with a research program on sedimentation and tectonics in slope systems. He also teaches on the Petroleum Geology MSc course. Mike works with the Aberdeen University deep-water PRAXS consortia on developing workflows for interpreting deep-water slope systems. He has numerous publications particularly on deep-water sediments.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD Reading University - The late Triassic (Rhaetian) transgression in SW Britain
MSc Reading University - Sedimentology and it’s Applications
BSc Cardiff University - Geology, Honors

Courses Taught
N372: Integrated Subsurface Description in a Working Petroleum System (North Derbyshire, UK)
N380: Seismic Interpretation Workshop: Play Recognition on Passive Margins
N477: A Systematic Approach to Defining and Evaluating Stratigraphic and Subtle Combination Traps
N483: Geological Seismic Interpretation of Deepwater Systems: Depositional Environments, Reservoir Architecture and Stratigraphy
N708: Exploration Capability Development Program - Deepwater Prospect Evaluation
N709: Mastery Programme - Deep Water Prospects Masterclass

Alternative Dates for this Course

Related Subjects