N031 Prospect Evaluation and Volumetric Methods (Dorset, UK)

Course Facts

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


The course examines the processes of prospect evaluation through and including: the geological chance of success, Direct Hydrocarbon Indicators (DHIs), basic statistical concepts, analysis of the key volumetric parameters and an overview of petroleum economics. Through highly interactive exercises, participants will learn the practical processes of prospect evaluation and volumetric calculation, including the common pitfalls.

Duration and Training Method

A five-day course in Dorset, southern England, comprising 40% fieldwork and 60% classroom lectures/exercises. The teaching method will be an integrated mixture of lectures, exercises and field work.

Participants will learn to:

  1. Examine a working petroleum system and demonstrate the key elements required for exploration success.
  2. Distinguish the factors involved in assessing the “probability of finding hydrocarbons”, apply numerical values to these factors and calculate the overall result.
  3. Differentiate between the “probability of finding hydrocarbons” and the “probability of making a commercial discovery”, and how to calculate the latter.
  4. Analyse how and why the probability of finding hydrocarbons can be modified in the light of new information (dependence) as well as using seismic data and the potential presence of direct hydrocarbon indicators, such as flat spots and phase/ amplitude changes
  5. Examine the key volumetric input parameters and determine appropriate ranges of values for each, taking uncertainty into account, which type of distribution to use, and why.
  6. Calculate resource volumes (oil and gas) and understand what a Monte Carlo simulation actually does and why this methodology is used.
  7. Appraise the role of petroleum economics and the importance of assessing the monetary value of exploration prospects.
  8. Understand the results generated when prospects with multiple reservoir horizons or compartments are modelled using stochastic aggregation.
  9. Be aware of the key metrics used in petroleum economics, such as net present value and expected monetary value; examine what they mean and how they are calculated and used.

Evaluation of prospects is a fundamental part of most petroleum geoscientists’ working life. Oil and gas companies set their exploration budgets and associated drilling programmes using ranked inventories of opportunities which include: the probability of finding hydrocarbons, hydrocarbon resource size / uncertainty ranges and potential commercial value.

Despite the importance of prospect evaluation the performance of the industry as a whole leaves much to be desired. Whilst the assessment of the probability of finding hydrocarbons is now generally acceptable, there is still a strong tendency to over estimate the prospective resources for a prospect.
All of the key volumetric parameters will be reviewed and explained. Demonstrations, fieldwork and  frequent exercises will be used to illustrate and reinforce the course material. The application of Monte Carlo software and the use of appropriate parameter distributions will be explained. The dependencies between reservoir parameters, fluid types, recovery factors and recovery mechanisms will be analysed.


Day 0:
Participants arrive at London Heathrow Airport, Travel to Hotel, Dorset
Course Introduction and Group Dinner

Day 1:
Classroom - Chance of Success (probability of finding hydrocarbons), Basic Statistics, Resource Assessment Methodologies

Field Excursion - Osmington Mills

Day 2:
Classroom - Calculation of Gross Rock Volume (GRV) and the use of Geostatistics

Field Excursion - Lulworth Cove

Day 3:
Classroom - GRV Modifiers, Porosity and Permeability, Petroleum and Water Saturation, Formation Volume Factor

Field Excursion - Lyme Regis and Burton Bradstock

Day 4:
Classroom - Recovery Factor, Reality Checks, Assessment of Stacked Reservoirs and Discussion of DHI / DFI Analysis, Pitfalls and the Modification of the Chance of Success

Field Excursion - Portland

Day 5:
Classroom - Essentials of Petroleum Economics, Portland Volumetrics Exercise, Wrap up and Discussions

Afternoon - Particpants check out and depart for London Heathrow Airport

Who should attend

Any subsurface professionals who are, or who will be, working on projects which involve the assessment of the probability of finding hydrocarbons and / or the development of probabilistic resource estimates.

Prerequisites and linking courses

There are no prerequisites for this course, although a basic knowledge of seismic and subsurface geological interpretational techniques is helpful. Prior attendence on Nautilus Training Alliance course N019 (Play Fairway Analysis: A Tool for Effective Exploration and Risk Quantification, Dorset, UK), although advantageous, is not a necessity. N019 takes participants through the process of exploration risk analysis and the construction of play fairway maps.

Linked Courses - following successful completion of this course delegates may wish to consider attending the following courses which are also part of the GTA Prospect Evaluation Module:

  • N006 (Introduction to Reservoir Engineering)
  • N014 (Petroleum Economics and Risk Analysis)
  • N089 (Risk Analysis for Petroleum Exploration)

The physical demands for this class are LOW according to the Nautilus Training Alliance field course grading system. This class requires a basic level of fitness. Fieldwork consists of easy walks along beach sections (maximum distance approximately 750 metres). Access to Portland location is via a steep path with possible uneven and slippery ground (no more than 20 metres).

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Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

Ashley Francis

Martin Stephenson

A very good course, an excellent tutor and very helpful exercises