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Core value

Students discuss reservoir sedimentology inthe BGS core store

The BGS core archive provides an invaluable resource for training geology students who are heading for the petroleum industry, says Gary Hampson*

Geoscientist 19.3 March 2009

For any petroleum geologist, borehole cores provide essential information from which to build a detailed reservoir description. The opportunity to view and describe core material is therefore integral to equipping petroleum geology students with the skills that they will require in their future careers. The core collections at the BGS offices in Keyworth and Gilmerton (Edinburgh) provide an invaluable resource that can be readily accessed for teaching and research by UK universities. These two centres host material from all released oil and gas wells from the onshore and offshore UK (respectively).

In early December, students taking the MSc course in Petroleum Geoscience (PG) at Imperial College London visited the BGS core store in Keyworth in order to study cores from the Triassic Sherwood Sandstone reservoir of the Wytch Farm Field, as the first step in a multi-disciplinary project to characterise and model this reservoir. The core workshop highlighted the tricky business of interpreting sedimentary processes and environments from core data, but underlined the key role that core plays in reservoir characterisation. On their return from the store, the PG students work in teams with their colleagues on the Petroleum Engineering and Petroleum Geophysics MSc courses to appraise the hydrocarbon resources within the Sherwood Sandstone reservoir.
Grey, oil-stained fluvial sandstones juxtaposed against red, floodplain mudstones. The core data thus form part of a larger, integrated dataset that also contains 3D seismic, wireline logs, fluid pressure measurements, well tests and petrophysical data, generously donated to Imperial College London by BP. The three-week project emphasises the integration of the different technical disciplines that are required for field appraisal and reservoir characterisation, and also trains students to be team players in diverse, multi-disciplinary groups – a work environment that is typical for their counterparts in industry. However, all of this learning requires a solid foundation… which means that description of the BGS-held cores is the vital first step.

Access to the hydrocarbon well core collections is usually free for academic and teaching use. Initial contact should be through Dr. Mike Howe, Chief Curator, British Geological Survey, Keyworth, NG12 5GG ([email protected]).

* Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ ([email protected])