N253 Geoscience for the Oil Industry: The Jurassic Coast Petroleum System (Dorset, UK)

Course Facts

Course Code:
3 days
Physical Demand:
2.4 Continuing Education Units
24 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


The course is a predominantly field-based introduction to the oil and gas industry using the world famous Jurassic Coast Petroleum System in Southern England for illustration. It is intended as an introduction to petroleum geoscience and the basics of petroleum exploration and exploitation for individuals who have limited technical knowledge of these subjects. 

Duration and Training Method

A three day field class with an 90:10 split of field to classroom based activities. The teaching method is a combination of field work, practical demonstrations, exercises and classroom lectures based upon the geology of the Jurassic Coast, Dorset. This course will also make use of Digital Outcrop Imagery (DOI). The fieldwork component will focus on the petroleum system of the Wytch Farm oilfield.

Participants will learn to:

  1. Describe the fundamental principles of geology including geological time, plate tectonics, stratigraphy, palaeontology and rock composition.
  2. Review the process of sedimentary basin formation and filling from erosion to deposition.
  3. Discuss petroleum systems analysis including the concepts of source, migration, reservoir, trap and sealing.
  4. Recognise different types of reservoir rocks and their properties, including porosity and permeability.

Using the geology of the Jurassic Coast as a framework, the course will cover the following topics:

Fundamental Principles of Geology
The formation of rocks and the different rock types. Geological time. Basin formation and fill.

Sedimentary Geology and Stratigraphy
Sedimentary rocks – how they are formed, lithification, fossils, different palaeoenvironments, deposition of source and reservoir rocks. Principles of stratigraphy, how environments and rocks change through time.

Structural Geology
Geological structures and how they influence the oil and gas industry.

Petroleum System
Discussion of the occurrence and habitat of oil and gas; introduction to the concepts of hydrocarbon source, hydrocarbon migration, reservoir, seal and trap. Overview of Wytch Farm and Kimmeridge Bay oilfields and the scale of subsurface drilling operations.

Itinerary (subject to change):

Day 0

  • Arrive in Weymouth
  • Evening course introduction to Petroleum Geology (Sedimentary rock types, sedimentary Basins, Geological Time, Petroleum Systems Analysis; source, migration, reservoir, seal and trap)
  • Evening group dinner
  • Overnight Weymouth

Day 1

Fieldwork: Reservoir and Source rock

  • Investigate the primary reservoir of Wytch Farm oil field at Ladram Bay
  • Investigate the Blue Lias at Lyme Regis and discuss the characteristics of hydrocarbon source rocks
  • Examine the Bridport Sands reservoir rocks at West Bay
  • Evening group dinner
  • Overnight Weymouth

Day 2

Fieldwork: Oilfield

  • Classroom review of Day 1 outcrops using 3D outcrop imagery
  • Overview of the Wytch Farm oilfield from Nine Barrow Downs
  • Examine the Kimmeridge Clay source rock, Kimmeridge Bay anticlinal trap and beam pump at Kimmeridge Bay
  • Visit Lulworth Cove to view a variety of sedimentological, structural and palaeontological features
  • Evening group dinner
  • Overnight Weymouth

Day 3

Fieldwork: Summary

  • Classroom review of Day 2 outcrops using 3D outcrop imagery
  • Basin summary at Portland
  • Oil seeps at Osmington Mills
  • Lunch at Smugglers Inn
  • Return to Weymouth, end of course

Who should attend

Oil company staff who wish to understand more about the basics of geology, petroleum geoscience and what geotechnical staff do. The class would suit administrative, legal and financial staff as well as HR and personal assistants or technical assistants.

Prerequisites and linking courses

There are no prerequisites for this course.

The course provides a stepping stone towards attending some of the Basic Application Level courses on the Nautilus Training Alliance Programme.

The physical demands for this class are LOW according to the Nautilus Training Alliance field course grading system. The sections are almost entirely coastal foreshore and cliff sections. Walking distances are short, up to 2 km (1.5 miles), along beaches and cliff top paths, and ascents minimal.

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Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

Simon Baker

Lance Morrissey

Richard Steele

Very thorough and informative. Glad I attended a field course. Tutor, rep and staff made the course enjoyable, which made the learning process much easier.