Petroleum Geology Essentials I

The five-week Virtual Mentored Learning “Petroleum Geology Essentials – I” program gives course participants an overview of the essential elements of petroleum geology. Guided by an experienced industry specialist, participants will cover a wide range of technical topics that form the basis for the exploration and appraisal, resource assessment, and development of conventional hydrocarbon accumulations from a geological perspective. On successful completion of the course, participants will have gained an Awareness Level Competency in the core components of Petroleum Geology.

Additional information

Program Type



Full Program (Individual), Full Program (Team)


January 31 to March 4, 2022, May 30 to July 1, 2022



Subject Area

Petroleum Geology

Program Content

Fundamentals of Petroleum Geology, Basin Analysis, and the Exploration Process; Play Analysis and the Subsurface Environment; Depositional Environments; Structural Geology and Tectonics; Operations Geology and Petroleum Geochemistry.

Target Audience

Oil and gas industry professionals looking to understand the central role that geology plays in the exploration, appraisal, resource assessment and development of hydrocarbons. Management looking to better understand the roles and responsibilities of geologists in their organization. Any petroleum industry professional looking to refresh their geological competencies will gain a high level of value from this program.


3 hours self-study; 1 hour online virtual mentored session; an engaging assignment (1 hour to complete) with subsequent review of answers – each week for five continuous weeks.

Learning Formats

E-Learning Self-Study, Practical Assignments, Virtual Mentored Learning Sessions Including Group Discussions with Participants.

  • The e-Learning self-study component uses IHRDCs award-winning IPIMS courses.
  • Practical assignments will be issued for the participants to complete in parallel with the e-Learning self-studies and before the associated mentor sessions. The assignment should be completed prior to the first Office Hours meeting, in line with the best practice flipped learning concept. Model answers to the assignments will be supplied after the course participants have completed their assignments, and in conjunction with the Office Hours sessions.
  • Virtual mentored sessions, allowing group discussions, will take place on a weekly basis.
  • All course materials will be available on the dedicated IHRDC learning portal.

Program Content

Week One

Fundamentals of Petroleum Geology, Basin Analysis, and the Exploration Process

The first week starts with a broad overview of petroleum exploration, reviewing the requirements for a conventional resource petroleum accumulation as well as the technical and economic risks of exploring a basin for hydrocarbons. This is followed by an overview of petroleum generation: hydrocarbon source rock deposition and maturation, migration, and its trapping in an accumulation. Basin analysis is the theme of the second component of the first week addressing some basin formation processes, geodynamic models, hydrocarbon source rocks and their maturation processes in more detail, sedimentary basin models and prospect generation, as well as a case study.

The practical assignment will be on the Exploration Process.

Week Two

Play Analysis and the Subsurface Environment

The second week starts with a review of the elements of, and controls on, hydrocarbon plays, followed by an introduction to play analysis methods including assessing their risks. The set of e-Learning topics cover the subsurface environment concepts of temperature and pressure gradients, pressure environments and fluid behavior. The hydrocarbon generation and migration topic builds on the basic concepts covered in Week 1 by studying hydrocarbon generation, maturation, and migration processes. The final topic summarizes how structural and/or stratigraphic traps contain the migration hydrocarbons to form an accumulation.

The practical assignment will be on Exploration Plays.

Week Three

Depositional Environments

The third week of self-study e-Learning starts with the topic of the porosity of clastic reservoirs, covering diagenesis and secondary porosity aspects together with some of the tools and techniques used for their evaluation. The second e-Learning topic is focused on the analysis of carbonate reservoir rocks and their facies distributions in a range of depositional settings non-marine, coastal, shelf, shelf margin, foreslope, and basinal.
Each participant can then, optionally, select the most relevant depositional environment for their organization from the additional e-Learning topics on sandstone reservoir depositional environments non-marine, shelf marine; marginal marine; deepwater marine.

The practical assignment will be on Depositional Environments.

Week Four

Structural Geology and Tectonics

The fourth week of the program covers the essential components of structural geology and tectonics: stress and strain; folding; faulting; joints and fractures; unconformities; structural styles. The second element of this week reviews the concept and implications of plate tectonics, especially sedimentary basin development.

The practical assignment will be on Pore Pressure, Overburden Pressure and Effective Stress.

Week Five

Operations Geology and Petroleum Geochemistry

In the final week of the program, the self-study materials cover the sampling and analysis of drill cuttings, covering their generation, collection, handling, and descriptions. The related second e-Learning topic is on mud logging practices, including the analysis of the penetration rate and drilling parameters, lithology, hydrocarbon shows, gas readings and formation pressure determination while drilling. Additional content will be provided on the fundamentals of Petroleum Geochemistry and its role in the exploration process to analyze and investigate source rocks and associated hydrocarbon generated.

The final practical assignment will be on Wellsite and Operations Geology.