London Evening Lecture: April 2018

‘Piecing together a Picture - the Petroleum Detective Approach’ With Brian Moffatt, Petrophase

10 April 2018


In the Exploration and Production industry we view technical challenges through the lens of our home discipline; we say biomarkers lie in the domain of geochemistry while oil properties and reserves estimation belong in realm of petroleum engineering. However Mother Nature sprinkles her clues indiscriminately across all disciplines so many technical problems refuse to sit neatly in a single domain, indeed the expertise from several may be needed to understand the placement and properties of petroleum.

A different perspective may be taken of a Petroleum Detective. The good detective questions the data and gathers evidence from a wide variety of experts to build a credible and defensible case. He doesn’t just round up the usual suspects!

Several high profile studies solved with this approach are revealed in this talk by Brian Moffatt of Petrophase, some presented for the first time.



The case studies include

  • How a determining how a strange heavy oil was formed at high pressures in a stacked system of different oils and condensates revealed the filling mechanism and type of petroleum at shallower and deeper depths. This gave clues for further exploration opportunities. The solution needed isotopic data, phase equilibria, Petrophysics and Geochemistry but was beautifully simple in concept and furnished both Reservoir Engineering data and Exploration data while explaining the compositions, properties and overpressure.

  • How different disciplines viewed mercury contamination in an HPHT reservoir and how these could be reconciled as different facets of the same phenomenon.
  • How the mystery of the lateral concentrations of hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide in the Buzzard reservoir were solved and how this could be used to predict concentrations in undrilled reservoir.

All the case studies share an unexpected feature. Far from multiple disciplines making the problems more complex, the solutions were invariably the simplest possible. It was the change in perspective that revealed them.

Acting as Petroleum Detective gains unique and balanced insights and saved about $2 billion over the studies presented, mostly through clearer understanding of reservoir fluids which guided decisions on optimising recovery.

Venue Information

Venue information

Venue name:

The Geological Society of London

Venue phone:

+44 (0)20 7434 9944

Venue address:

Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London, W1J 0BD, United Kingdom
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