Upstream Petroleum Business

This virtual program focuses on the upstream sectors of the petroleum value chain with emphasis on exploration, appraisal and field development planning activities. The program is composed of a set of lectures focused on the technical and commercial topics along with team participation in a challenging petroleum business game where the participants must evaluate and submit their exploration and oilfield development related analysis and decisions.

Additional information

Program Type



Dates to be Announced


Who Should Attend

The program will benefit management, administration, and specialists (technical, financial, legal, regulatory, and governmental) at all levels of petroleum industry experience who wish to broaden their knowledge of the business environment and “best practices” of the upstream business, especially the initial discovery, resource size assessment, and field development planning of onshore and offshore petroleum projects. The daily sessions, as outlined below, will cover the upstream sectors of the oil value chain with focus on exploration, drilling and well completions, reserves calculations, and field development planning topics.

Lecture Content

Overview of the Energy Industry

Oil and gas measurements and units; the value chains; market structures; worldwide oil and gas economics; major players; evolution of the integrated oil and gas business.

Host Government Agreements

Typical host country exploration agreements: summary of the history and key provisions, including bonus payments, royalties, taxes; production sharing; participation arrangements.

Exploration Methods

The exploration process: petroleum geology, exploration geophysics, well logging, developing exploration prospects, preparing, and interpreting geological maps; exploration case studies.

Drilling and Well Completions

Planning the well; logistics; drilling functions; drilling procedures; formation evaluation methods; horizontal wells; recent developments in drilling and well completions.

Energy Project Economics

Economic yardsticks; project cash flow before and after tax; tax expenses and benefits; net cash flow stream and payout; time value of money; opportunity cost and present value of net cash flow; discounted cash flow analysis and internal rate of return; risk assessment and sensitivity analysis; examples of the economic analysis of energy projects.

Field Development and Production Cycle

Onshore and offshore field development and long-term production subsurface design; reservoir fundamentals and reserves estimation: field development; inflow performance; integrated reservoir management; and enhanced recovery. Surface facilities design for both onshore and offshore operations; production operations and management; investment analysis and reporting of performance.

Gas Processing Facilities and LPGs

Properties of gas and gas liquids; processing of associated gas; markets for LPGs; economics of natural gas plants.

Measuring Financial Performance

How companies report to their shareholders; GAAP principles; income statement; balance sheet; cash flow statement; equity statement; taxation and tax codes; preparing corporate financials; the audit; reading a major company annual report; measures of performance and the setting of company goals.

Unconventional Oil and Gas Resources

A comprehensive and practical understanding of the processes that are applied in the development of unconventional oil and gas projects, by looking at some active investment areas.


Upstream Petroleum Business Game: Sandland

This business simulation is an integral part of the learning process. Participants, divided into teams, make realistic technical and commercial decisions that commonly confront managers in the international upstream petroleum business today.

The international upstream petroleum business game takes place in “Sandland,” a fictitious country on the west coast of Africa. Team objectives are to explore for and prepare the optimum field development plan for this project opportunity. Teams are provided with technical and economic background that serve as basis for decisions to be made during that session. Team decisions are made and require a commitment of both capital and operating funds and occur during the following intervals: three years of exploration and two years of field development planning period.

Map of the Republic of Sandland used in IHRDC's oil and gas Learning Simulation Games

Simulation Sessions:

  • Introduction to Project Simulation
  • Negotiating the Right to Explore in Sandland
  • The Exploration Seismic Survey
  • Exploration and Delineation Drilling
  • Resource and Reserves Estimation
  • Field Development Planning
  • Evaluation of Team Performance and Presentation of Results