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Unconventional Resources Plays – Workshop

Rajan Chokshi, PhD

INSTRUCTOR: Stephen A. Sonnenberg, PhD
DISCIPLINE: Geoscience, Engineering, Unconventional Reservoirs
CEUS: 2.4
AVAILABILITY: Public, In-House, & Live Online

SAMPLE TOPIC FROM THE CLASS: “Unconventional Petroleum Systems: From the Deep Basin to Tar Sands”

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Geologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists, reservoir engineers and managers who are exploring for and developing oil and gas fields in unconventional, basin-centered petroleum systems. Basic knowledge of well log evaluation is recommended.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This three-day workshop introduces sound evaluation techniques used in choosing and developing “unconventional resource new ventures.” It combines geology, reservoir engineering, reserves evaluation, economic forecasting and the concepts of multivariate analysis to develop skills that help predict productivity in oil and gas systems.  The workshop covers gas and oil plays in shale and stacked tight sands that are developed with horizontal and vertical wells, and completed and stimulated with hydraulic fracturing.

Highlights include:

  1. Introduction to the pertinent data, drivers, evaluation techniques and the use of cross-plots.
  2. Review of the reservoir types and quality of the resource, determined using global comparisons to known unconventional systems (both productive and non-productive).
  3. Identification of workable plays with viable development program economics.
  4. Understanding of why some plays fail or are only economic in the sweet-spots.


  • Demonstrate knowledge of reservoir attributes (variables) pertaining to unconventional resource play viability and scale.
  • Screen (evaluate) all play types. For example, what will work, what is economically feasible, what play has critical flaws, what play is basin-centered but is marginal because of its size and depth.
  • Develop an idea of the viability of new venture oil/gas plays, compare them to other global plays, and develop a clear idea of reservoir/geologic mechanisms and acceptability.
  • Recognize and appraise how a play will perform and forecast potential resources. Include examples of winners and losers, using actual cases.  REALLY know what you are evaluating quantitatively with comparison to other global play results.
  • Evaluate tight gas sands over a long vertical interval and shale gas over a finite interval developed with horizontal wells. Evaluation of plays with an inverted fluid column (water to oil to gas transitions).  Prevent grave and costly mistakes.
  • Integrate mixed parameters such as electric log values of porosity, resistivity, and “cross-over gas effect.” Identify key reservoir “drivers” versus depth and location (sweet-spot identification).  Integrate with thermal maturity and pressure data (always as a function of depth, subsea depth or depth to stratigraphy.
  • Apply intuitive principles to more accurately predict oil/gas productivity in tight rocks.
  • Understand the hydraulic fracture stimulation treatments employed by operators.


DAY 1. Unconventional Tight Gas

  • Introduction
  • What are resource plays?
  • Geologic Considerations
  • Fractures
  • Source rocks
  • Reservoir architecture and style
  • Subsurface pressures & pressure compartments
  • Reservoir quality
  • Reservoir heterogeneity
  • Petrophysical properties
    • Buckles Plots
    • Hingle plots
    • Pickett plots
  • Burial history and timing of gas charge
  • Basin-centered trapping
    • Examples of Basin-centered gas accumulations
  • Myths, Facts, Fallacies Basin-centered gas
  • Low resistivity low contrast pay
  • Shallow gas reservoirs
    • High porosity, low permeability systems
    • Biogenic methane
  • Coal-bed methane
  • Shale gas reservoirs
  • Drilling and completion
    • Vertical versus slant versus horizontal drilling
  • Exploration strategies
  • Why plays didn’t work
  • Seismic expression


DAY 2. Unconventional Tight Oil Reservoirs

  • Introduction
  • Geologic Considerations
    • Source beds
    • Fractures and Faults
    • Pervasive accumulations
  • Pyrolysis
  • Technology
    • 3-D seismic
    • Drilling and completion
    • FE SEM, ion milling
    • CT scans
    • Bambino
    • Porosity measurements (MICP)
    • Permeability measurements
  • Petrophysics
    • Rock typing
    • Cluster analysis
  • Tight Oil Reservoirs
    • Bakken
    • Niobrara
    • Eagle Ford
  • Oil Shales
    • Green River Oil Shale Example
    • In-situ and ex-situ extraction methods
  • Tar Sands
    • Production methods (SAGD, CSS, etc.)
  • Halo Reservoirs
    • Denver Basin and Powder River Basin, USA examples

DAY 3.  Unconventional Resource Assessment

  • Global assessments
    • EIA
    • USGS
  • Screening criteria
  • Tight gas, tight oil, halo oil
  • Hydrocarbon saturation* Porosity * thickness.
  • Resource Density. Compare to 100 BCF/square miles.
  • Production type curves. Reserve extrapolation.
  • Expected ultimate recovery.
  • Recovery, Economics.