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Oil-filled fractures in fractured basement: Towards a deeper understanding of a new hydrocarbon play West of Shetland (Lancaster Field)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Brasier
    Dr D Healy
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship for the project “Oil-filled fractures in fractured basement: Towards a deeper understanding of a new hydrocarbon play West of Shetland (Lancaster Field)” (see details at This project is part of the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil & Gas at the University of Aberdeen.

The Lancaster Field, on the Rona Ridge to the west of Shetland, is the first ‘fractured gneiss’ type oil field in the UK. This hydrocarbon play has been identified as one of the UK’s top 20 oil and gas priorities for the next two years. Understanding the Lancaster Field requires knowledge of the origins of the basement fractures; the times at which they have been open to fluids; and the different fluids that have passed through them. Much of this information will be gained by studying the petrography and geochemistry of carbonate minerals that have precipitated as veins within the basement fractures.

Using a combination of field-based sedimentology and structural geology, tied together through petrography (optical and electron microscopy) to isotope and elemental geochemistry and fluid-inclusion analysis (lab work), the student will aim to:

1) Establish the various ages and origins of carbonate vein fills within the fractures;

2) Improve understanding of hydrothermal and/or epithermal processes that resulted in deposition of carbonate within some of the fractures. These carbonate-filled fractures are of unknown origin, but may be related to a Cretaceous thermal plume which migrated northwards along the Rona Ridge or to the emplacement of oil & gas;

3) Reveal any relationships between hydrocarbon charge and carbonate fill in the fractures.

This work involves examination of cores and cuttings from the subsurface, plus fieldwork on the Hebridean islands of Lewis and Harris, looking for and analysing carbonate in veins as analogues for the reservoirs now found West of Shetlands. Access to seismic data, wireline logs, maps and stratigraphic information will be kindly provided by Hurricane Energy.

The successful candidate will have at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) and/or an MSc in appropriate discipline(s). We are able to make offers conditional of attaining these qualifications in the run up to the start date for the PhD (October 2016). The student will participate in a national NERC Oil & Gas CDT Training Academy, to get additional skills in oil and gas that maximise their employability and contextualise their PhD research in the sector.

The closing date for the studentship is 12 noon (UK time) 31 January 2016

Funding Notes

There are nine shortlisted projects at Aberdeen, three of which will be funded to the top applicants. Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship. UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. Outstanding EU candidates who do not meet these criteria can be considered. UNFORTUNATELY, OVERSEAS STUDENTS CANNOT APPLY.


Application Procedure

Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Geology (irrespective of which discipline the project is based), to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing.

Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form. Informal enquiries can be made to, Dr Alex Brasier([email protected]), University of Aberdeen with a copy of your current CV and a covering letter detailing your suitability for the project. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

How good is research at Aberdeen University in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 28.40

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