The goal of this course it to obtain an understanding of the systems that generate fossil hydrocarbons, principally oil and gas and to a lesser degree coal. Such insights form the basis for the successful exploration and production of these valuable natural resources.

The course starts with an overview of the important role fossil hydrocarbons play in the modern societies, and the impressive scale of the industry is highlighted with characteristic numbers. A historic overview of the technologies that were developed to find and produce hydrocarbons since the middle of the 19th century is then given.

The next step is to illustrate the place of fossil hydrocarbons in the global carbon cycle, and the accelerated and non-sustainable pace at which mankind fuels one part of this cycle. The fossil hydrocarbon systems starts with burial and maturation of organic material, typically in fine-grained sedimentary rocks that are termed source rocks. Once the hydrocarbons are formed at depths of several kilometers they can get expulsed, in a rather poorly understood process called migration. If during this migration they reach a rock that is both porous and permeable, the conditions for a hydrocarbon accumulation are given, provided this reservoir rock is capped by an impervious sealing layer.

Finally the exploration and production of different types of basins is discussed. In several of the lectures, real case studies are presented in order to illustrate the theory presented. In order to be able to follow the course, prior knowledge in general geology and chemistry is preferred.

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Petroleum Geology by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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