Fieldwork in the Petroleum System of the Wessex Basin

Unit code EART30441

Our Petroleum Systems of the Wessex Basin field course provides you with the opportunity to look at all aspects of a petroleum system within the vicinity of the Wytch Farm oil field and amongst some of the most dramatic scenary of the British coastline. Most of this field trip takes place along the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and focuses on the development of the Wytch Farm oil field in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • When is the fieldtrip?

    The field trip is for 5 days during the September Welcome Week in Year 3. Three days are spent in the field.

    Fieldwork will be from 8am to 5pm each day. Evenings are used for briefing sessions, and to conduct and assess a group assignment.

  • Where is the fieldtrip?

    You will be staying at Freshwater Beach Holiday Park.

    Accomodation is in self-catering static caravans. All have a kitchen with a cooker, refrigerator, kettle, microwave, crockery, etc. Bed linen and duvets are provided, but a sleeping bag may be useful if you tend to feel the cold. There is a convenience store, restaurant, bar and takeaway on the site, and we will stop at a supermarket every day.

  • How will we travel to the Wessex Basin?

    Travel to and from the Wessex Basin will be by coach. Further details will be provided closer to the time of the trip.

  • What will I learn?

    You will be taught geological skills that are more advanced than during Fieldwork I, focused upon the description of petroleum reservoirs. You will also be introduced to how the political, economic, safety, technical, legal and environmental factors that influence the development of an oil field are assessed. You will be trained in:

    • reservoir characterisation of conventional and unconventional reservoirs (sandstones, limestone and mudstone), including fractured reservoirs;
    • trapping, sealing and petroleum reservoirs, and the impact of ineffective seals of resrvoir presence;
    • PESTLE analysis, and how this is used to assess an oil field development opportunity;
    • planning an oil field development in an environmentally sensitive area;
    • describing the scale and spatial distribution of reservoir properties (reservoir heterogeneity) and its impact on well placement, wellbore stability and recovery efficiency during oil production;
    • rosk analysis of a hazardous working environment.  ‌  

    By the end of the course you will be able to:

    • identify potential reservoir analogues in outcrop and describe their value to subsurface reservoir geology;
    • understand geological heterogeneities within conventional and unconventional reservoirs, and their impact on the exploration, appraisal and development of oil and gas fields;
    • show an improved understanding of reservoir sedimentology and structural geology in sedimentary basins; extrapolate 1 and 2 dimensional observations into 3 dimensions;
    • critically appraise and argue the positive and negative impact of oil and gas exploitation;
    • observe, measure and record data for subsequent interpretation;
    • construct a risk analysis for field safety;
    • show improved problem solving skills. teamwork, argument construction and counter-argumentation.
  • What equipment will I need?

    Essential field course items are:

    • compass-clinometer;
    • hand lens;
    • tape measure;
    • camera.
  • How will the field course be assessed?

    Assessment is based upon the following:

    • individual report [80%];
    • group assessment (field development and PESTLE analysis) [20%];
    • risk assessment for the fieldwork [10%].
  • Who can I contact regarding the Wessex Basin field course?

    For more information visit the course unit specification or email course leader Dr Cathy Hollis.

  • Did you know?

    The Wytch Farm oil field is Europe's largest onshore oil field. Extended reach horizontal drilling was pioneered in this field in order to minimise its environmental footprint around the Poole Harbour area.

    More about the Wessex Basin

    During the Triassic, the Wessex Basin was largely a desert, but by the Jurassic sea level had risen such that sandstones, mudstones and limestones were deposited in shallow to moderately deep water. Changes in water depth and sediment input gave rise to optimal conditions for the deposition of organi rich mudstones (potential source rocks) interbedded with sandstones and limestones that were capable of hosting oil reserves. Later tectonic movements then led to faulting and folding that facilitated the development of traps and seals for hydrocarbon.

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