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Correlation, Provenance and Reservoir Quality of Triassic Strata in the Central North Sea


Project Description

Triassic fluvial successions form important primary and secondary reservoirs in the Central North Sea (CNS) and contain significant future exploration potential. Extraction of hydrocarbons from these deposits is hampered by a lack of knowledge regarding correlation at basinal, sub-basinal and field scales. The aim of this fully funded PhD is to develop and extend an existing heavy mineral and biostratigraphic correlation scheme for Triassic strata (Burgess et al. 2020) and assess potential provenance controls on reservoir quality. Previous work suggests that the interaction between three separately sourced fluvial systems: a westerly system sourced from the Scottish landmass, a northerly axial system at least partly sourced through the Moray Firth and an easterly sourced Norwegian system may be important in controlling reservoir distribution and quality (Gray et al. 2019). The correlation framework provided by heavy mineral analysis and biostratigraphy can be used to define fluvial systems with different provenance. Once systems with different and/or mixed provenance have been identified, then spatial and temporal variations in reservoir quality can be assessed and the role of provenance as a controlling factor can be determined.

The student will use palynological studies of Triassic strata to reconstruct paleo-environmental conditions and extend a biostratigraphically-based correlation framework for Quads 22, 29 and 30. Work will also focus on extending a heavy mineral based stratigraphic framework for Triassic strata in the same area and assess provenance based on heavy mineral types, morphologies and ratios together with mineral chemical data and radiometric dating of detrital zircons. Standard petrographical techniques will be combined with the heavy mineral analysis to assess possible provenance changes and then linked to core plug derived porosity and permeability to determine the impact of provenance on reservoir quality.

The successful candidate will be trained in and will apply a wide range of techniques including: 1) biostratigraphy of mudstone intervals, 2) sedimentological analysis from core, 3) heavy mineral analysis, 4) petrography and, 5) interpretation of wireline log data to gain an understanding of the controls on reservoir quality. A key aspect of the study will be the integration of the different datasets at a range of scales to develop a predictive model of reservoir quality.

This PhD study will provide an excellent opportunity for a student to gain expertise in a wide range of different techniques and transferrable skill sets that can be utilised in a future geoscience-based career.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Geology or a related discipline.

It is essential that the successful candidate has experience of the collection and interpretation of sedimentological data, familiarity with manipulation and interpretation of subsurface datasets.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:

Formal applications can be completed online: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/pgap/login.php

• Apply for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geology
• State the name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

1. All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
2. 2 Academic Reference (on official headed paper and signed or emailed directly to us from referees official email address)
3. Detailed CV

The start date of the project is October 2020 and the third supervisor on the project is Andrew Morton.

Funding Notes

This project is supported by Triassic Phase 3 consortium of companies and full support for fees and stipend is provided at UK Research Council rates monthly, in arrears.

Due to the funding criteria we cannot accept applications from International applicants.

References

Burgess et al 2020. Stratigraphical palynology of the Middle to Late Triassic successions of the Central North Sea. Petroleum Geoscience (online first)

Gray et al. 2019 The influence of stratigraphy and facies distribution on reservoir quality and production performance in the Triassic Skagerrak Formation of the UK and Norwegian Central North Sea. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 494

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