N361 Petroleum Geology of Kurdistan

Course Facts

Course Code:
5 days
4.0 Continuing Education Units
40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


This course examines the key elements of the hydrocarbon systems prevalent in Kurdistan; source, reservoir, trap and migration are evaluated in relation to regional stratigraphy, and integrated with the geodynamic history of the Middle East from Lower Palaeozoic times to the present day. Theoretical concepts are illustrated with extensive examples of surface and sub-surface geology from across Kurdistan. 

Duration and Training Method

A five-day classroom course.  Classwork will consist of keynote presentations, combined with hands-on practical exercises. Theory covered in the classroom will be richly illustrated with real case studies from the wider Zagros region: the main emphasis of the course will be the direct applicability of theoretical concepts to specific examples from Kurdistan.

Participants will learn to:

  1. Describe the key elements of hydrocarbon systems in Kurdistan, and place these elements within a regional litho-stratigraphic framework.
  2. Identify four-way closing anticlines as potential hydrocarbon traps, using satellite imagery and geological maps.
  3. Examine anticlines to assess the structural integrity and look for evidence that a trap is breached.
  4. Summarise overall structural geometry from 2D seismic data.
  5. Categorise Kurdistan reservoirs in relation to matrix and fracture permeability and porosity.
  6. Describe the key components of a conceptual fracture network model.
  7. Interpret stacked petroleum plays in terms of multiple source rocks and reservoirs.
  8. Relate the regional stratigraphic framework to a plate tectonic model for the wider Middle East region, incorporating opening of the Tethys oceans, and closure to form the Zagros mountain belt.
  9. Use regional geodynamics to predict timing of hydrocarbon migration and variation in maturity across Kurdistan.

Regional plate kinematics & Middle East geodynamics

  • Overall tectonic framework with timing of main events
  • Proto-Tethys, Paleo-Tethys, Neo-Tethys oceans
  • Oblique closure, transpression, and Zagros collision

Core structural concepts (refresher)

  • 3D fold geometries, anticlinal traps, trap integrity
  • Thrusts and thrust-related folding
  • Fractures and fracture systems
  • Fractures in relation to folding
  • Structural inheritance, basement reactivation

Zagros stratigraphy

  • Litho-stratigraphy, bio-stratigraphy, chrono-stratigraphy
  • Stacked reservoir-seal pairs
  • Mechanical stratigraphy in relation to regional folding & thrusting
  • Multiple detachment levels

Regional Petroleum Systems

  • Zagros play types
  • Proven petroleum systems

Mapping surface geology

  • Importance of field survey
  • Use of satellite imagery to complement fieldwork

Sub-surface data & interpretation

  • Challenges of seismic interpretation
  • Borehole logs and correlation
  • Use of satellite imagery to complement fieldwork

Balanced cross-sections

  • Construction, balancing and restoration
  • Assumptions and limitations

Fractured reservoirs

  • Characterising fracture networks
  • Influence of mechanical stratigraphy on fracture systems
  • From outcrop to Discrete Fracture Network (DFN) modelling

Surface & near-surface processes: gravity, erosion, evaporite dissolution

Who should attend

The course is aimed at early-career geoscientists, as well more experienced geologists looking to consolidate their understanding of Kurdistan petroleum geology. Cross-discipline workers such as geophysicists and reservoir engineers may also benefit from the course as an update and refresher.

Prerequisites and linking courses

All students should have a basic understanding of the main principles of petroleum geology and modern hydrocarbon exploration methods.



Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

Richard Jones