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PT 4 STRUCTURAL TECHNIQUES IN PETROLEUM

EXPLORATION

ASSIGNMENT TOPIC
1. SCOPE OF STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY
2. QUALIFICATIONS AND DUTIES OF STRUCTURAL
GEOLOGIST
3. RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF STRUCTURAL DATA
4. PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN WILDCATTING

SUBMITED TO
PROF. NEELA S. PHARATE

SUBMITTED BY
MR. GAURAV BHOPALE
ROLL NO. 02

M.Sc.-1 (SEMESTER-1)

DEPARTMENT OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY


NOWROSJEE WADIA COLLEGE
CONTENTS

Sr. no. Topic Page no.


1 Introduction 3
2 Importance of Structural Geology 5
3 Scope of Structural Geology 7
4 Structural Work of Petroleum Geologist 8
5 Qualifications and Duties of Structural Geologist
Qualifications 9
Duties 10

6 Applications of Structural data and techniques in 14


discovery and development of oil and gas fields
Relative Importance of Structural data
Practical considerations in Wildcatting

7 References 15
INTRODUCTION

Structural geology is the study of the three dimensional distribution of


large bodies of rock, their surfaces, and the composition inside the rock units to
learn about their tectonic movements history, past geological events and
environments that could have deformed them. These can be dated to know when
the structural features formed. If the nature of these rocks can be determined,
petroleum geologists can discover if oil or natural gas are trapped within the
rocks.
Structural geology is a critical part of engineering geology which is
interested in the physical and mechanical properties of rocks. It provides major
concepts for trying to understand the rock and lithosphere deformation. The study
of structural geology tries to connect between current geometries such as folds and
faults with its deformational histories. Deformation histories help us also to
remodel the nature of the forces which are related to the formation.
The primary goal of structural geology is to use measurements of
present-day rock geometries to uncover information about the history of
deformation (strain) in the rocks, and ultimately, to understand the stress field that
resulted in the observed strain and geometries. This understanding of the dynamics
of the stress field can be linked to important events in the geologic past; a common
goal is to understand the structural evolution of a particular area with respect to
regionally widespread patterns of rock deformation (e.g., mountain
building, rifting) due to plate tectonics.
Structural geology is the study of the architecture of rocks insofar as it
has resulted from deformation. The aim of structural geology is to determine and
explain the architecture of rocks as observed in the field; laboratory investigations
are supplementary means to attain this primary objective.

Objective
Structural geologists use different methods to measure rock geometries,
and reconstruct their deformational histories. Then, the stress field that resulted in
that deformation is calculated.
The objective of structural geologist is to relate the structure to some
chronology. One phase of this study is to determine the sequence in which the
structural features developed. The structural geologist is not only interested in the
sequence of events in the area in which he is studying but he also wants to fit them
into the geological history of the whole earth. This can be done by paleontological
methods or by radiogenic dating.

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Another objective of structural geology is to determine the physical
processes that produced the observed structure. What was the temperature and
pressure at the time the structural feature formed, and what was the stress
distribution? It is desirable to answer these questions before we try to discuss the
ultimate cause. Without knowing the stress distribution at the time the structural
feature formed, it is difficult to decide whether a given fold was the result of
contraction of the earth, subcrustal convection currents, or the forceful injection of
magma. Experimental geology provide significant data for the understanding of
tectonic processes. The physical properties of many rocks have been investigated.
It is difficult to simulate natural conditions and consider all the variables involved,
but much has already been accomplished by the use of ingeniously conceived
apparatus.

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Importance of Structural Geology

The study of structural geology has a primary importance in economic


geology, both petroleum geology and mining geology. The main target of
structural geology is to use measurements to understand the stress field that
resulted in the observed strain and geometries. We can also understand the
structural evolution of a particular area due to plate tectonics (e.g. mountain
building, rifting).
An essential importance of structural geology is to know areas that contain
folds and faults because they can form traps in which the accumulation and
concentration of fluids such as oil and natural gas occur. Environmental
geologists and hydrologists need to understand structural geology because
structures are sites of groundwater flow and penetration which may have an effect
on leakage of toxic materials from waste dumps or leakage of salty water
into aquifers.
The study of geologic structures has been of prime importance in economic
geology, both petroleum geology and mining geology. Folded and faulted
rock strata commonly form traps that accumulate and concentrate fluids such
as petroleum and natural gas. Similarly, faulted and structurally complex areas
are notable as permeable zones for hydrothermal fluids, resulting in concentrated
areas of base and precious metal ore deposits. Veins of minerals containing
various metals commonly occupy faults and fractures in structurally complex
areas. These structurally fractured and faulted zones often occur in association
with intrusive igneous rocks. They often also occur around
geologic reef complexes and collapse features such as ancient sinkholes. Deposits
of gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, and other metals, are commonly located in
structurally complex areas.
Structural geology is a critical part of engineering geology, which is
concerned with the physical and mechanical properties of natural rocks. Structural
fabrics and defects such as faults, folds, foliations and joints are internal
weaknesses of rocks which may affect the stability of human engineered structures
such as dams, road cuts, open pit mines and underground mines or road tunnels.
Geotechnical risk, including earthquake risk can only be investigated by inspecting
a combination of structural geology and geomorphology. In addition, areas
of landscapes which reside atop underground caverns, potential sinkholes, or
other collapse features are of particular importance for these scientists. In
addition, areas of steep slopes are potential collapse or landslide hazards.
Environmental geologists and hydrogeologists need to apply the tenets of
structural geology to understand how geologic sites impact (or are impacted

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by) groundwater flow and penetration. For instance, a hydrogeologist may need to
determine if seepage of toxic substances from waste dumps is occurring in a
residential area or if salty water is seeping into an aquifer.
Plate tectonics is a theory developed during the 1960s which describes the
movement of continents by way of the separation and collision of crustal plates. It
is in a sense structural geology on a planet scale, and is used throughout structural
geology as a framework to analyze and understand global, regional, and local
scale features.
Structural Geology is directly related to the structures in the rocks such as
folds, faults, thrusts, landslips as well as characterization through igneous rock
fractures and sedimentary rocks with contemporary structures like turbidities,
cross-beddings, local structures and regional structures such as synclinorium and
anticlinorium and so on.
Structural Geology gives the account of force and pressures faced by the
rocks before or after their sedimentation, the shear and stress faced both
regionally and locally, deciphering their past. Plate Tectonics is in a way a mega
structural geological phenomenon, linking to force vectors subjected to in past and
to some extent, likely repetition in near future, causing Earth Quakes and
stretching its influence to the volcanism happenings, due to having recognized the
internal tension in the lithosphere, through structures on the near-surficial depths.
Structural Geology takes a major lead in interpreting the origin of mineral
deposits, preferentially located within the structural gaps or fault/fold surfaces.
Economic Mineral Deposits associated with identified structures, forecasts the
locales of mineralization and prompts to the Exploration geologist in the right
steps for spotting the areas suitable to mineralization.
Thus Structural Geology serves as a fundamental character in the rocks,
leading to major geological interpretations and in certain fields, comfortable
forecasts.

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SCOPE OF STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY
1. It deals with the effects of forces on rocks of the earth.
2. It should deal with the geometric shape of the geological features and also
geometric arrangement of their parts.
3. It has two phases, namely,
Static or geometric phase
Dynamic phase

4. It also takes into consideration various sedimentary structures like graded


bedding, cross bedding, ripple marks, etc. though they are not tectonic in
origin (as they convey the top and bottom of the beds)
5. Geometric aspect of structural geology is important because oil traps are
partly structural in origin and partly they are the result of configuration of
reservoir rocks, that is, its shape and size, texture and arrangement.
6. Knowledge of structural geology helps to find out places of oil and gas
localization and the study of oil traps of commercial importance.

The structures of sedimentary rocks are naturally emphasized, and particular


attention is given to the structures which are important in the discovery and
development of oil and gas fields.
The stratigraphic aspects of structural geology have come to be recognized
fairly recently, and it appears that they are a promising field for investigation.
Furthermore, it is generally recognized that promising traps for oil and gas
accumulation which are of purely structural origin of steadily becoming scarcer
compared to those produced wholly or partly by stratigraphic causes. Since the
stratigraphic type field are likely to become of increasing importance in petroleum
geology, it is desirable to understand thoroughly their structural features and
relations.

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Structural Work of Petroleum Geologist

Petroleum geologists are usually linked to the actual discovery of oil and
the identification of possible oil deposits or leads. It can be a very labor-intensive
task involving several different fields of science and elaborate equipment.
Petroleum geologists look at the structural and sedimentary aspects of the
stratum/strata to identify possible oil traps.
Petroleum geologists make the decision of where to drill for petroleum. This is
done by locating prospects within a sedimentary basin. Petroleum geologists
determine a prospects viability looking at seven main aspects:
Source- The presence of an organic-rich source rock capable of
generating hydrocarbons during deep burial.
Reservoir- The usually porous rock unit that collects the hydrocarbons
expelled from the source rock and holds them inside a trap.
Seal- The rock unit that inhibits the oil or gas from escaping from a
hydrocarbon-bearing reservoir rock.
Trap- Structural or stratigraphic feature that captures migrating
hydrocarbons into an economically producible accumulation.
Timing- Geologic events must occur in a certain order, e.g. that the trap
formed before migration rather than after.
Maturation- The process of alteration a source rock under heat and
pressure, leading to the cracking of its organic matter into oil and gas.
Migration- The movement of the (less dense) oil or gas from the source
rock into a reservoir rock and then into a trap.
These seven key aspects require the petroleum geologist to obtain a 4-dimensional
idea of the subsurface (the three spatial dimensions, plus time). Data may be
obtained via Geophysical methods. Geophysical surveys show the seismology data
of elastic waves, mainly seismic reflection. This provides a 3-dimensional look of
the trap, and source rock.

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Qualifications and Duties of Structural Geologist
Qualifications.
A successful structural geology needs to possess various qualities which vary with
time. In old days, they were supposed to have good physical stamina for field
work. Now the geologists in oil companies do not need to have the stamina of field
geologist because structural work in oil companies is carried out chiefly in offices.
However, structural geologist is expected to have the ability to visualize these
structures or structural features in 3D and express his conceptions accurately by
graphical method (graph, picture, cross section maps). He should have such mental
equipment that he should be able to draw maps, cross sections and he should be
able to express his ideas clearly, orally and by writing reports.
Successful geological field work consists of the accumulation of significant facts.
At each outcrop the geologist records whatever data are pertinent to his problems,
and, ideally, he should never have to visit in outcrop a second time. This is
especially true in areas that are difficult to access, but even in accessible regions
the work should be so planned that a second visit to an outcrop is unnecessary.
Geological mapping, when properly done, demands skill and judgment. Such
mapping requires keen observation and knowledge of what data are significant. As
the field work progresses and the larger geological picture begins to unfold,
experience and judgment are essential if the geologist is to evaluate properly the
vast number of facts gathered from thousands of outcrops. Above all, the field
geologist must use the method of working multiple hypothesis to deduce the
geological structure. While the field work progresses, he should conceive as many
interpretations as are consistent with the known facts. He should then formulate
test for these interpretations, checking them by data already obtained, or checking
them in the future by new data. Many of these interpretations will be abandoned,
new ones will develop, and those finally accepted may bear little resemblance to
hypothesis considered early during the field work.
Nothing is more nave than to believe that a geologist should gather only
facts, the interpretation of which is to be made at a later date. Because of this
numerous tentative interpretations, the field geologist will know how to evaluate
facts; these hypothesis, moreover, lead him too critical of crops that might
otherwise never have been visited. On the other hand, the field geologist should
never let is temporary hypothesis become ruling theories, thus making him
incapable of seeing contradictory facts.
Although much structure information in the past has been gathered from
direct observations, either on the surface of the earth, in open pits, or in mines, a
progressively greater proportion of a data is gleaned from the depths of the earth
by indirect means. The petroleum geologists, in particular, have obtained vast
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amounts of structural data from the study of drill holes and from geophysical data.
Subsurface geology not only involves structural geology, but also paleontology,
stratigraphy, sedimentation and geophysical methods.
Aerial photographs are not only of great value as base maps, but they
often display unsuspected structural features. Moreover, geological Maps, with a
small amount of geological ground control, may be prepared from aerial
photographs where the vegetative cover is slight and the geologic structure simple.
Spectacular aerial photograph have been obtained from orbiting satellites. Remote
Sensing employs aerial photography techniques that record gamma radiation and
permit the taking of infrared and radar imagery photographs. Geological maps of
the moon, primarily structural in nature, have been prepared from telescopic and
satellite photographs.

Additional Requirements.
Knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS) and the global positioning
system (GPS) is strongly recommended. Petroleum geologists may rely heavily on
data collected using these programs. Petroleum geologists should also have good
inter-personal skills since they may be required to work as a team with other
geoscientists. Sometimes these teams work internationally and require a geologist
to learn a foreign language.

Duties.
Structural geology differs from other branches of geology in that there is no large,
organized group of persons who call themselves structural geologists. Outside the
teaching profession, few geologists refer to themselves as structural geologists.
Even though a geologist may use structural geology continually in his work, he is
generally known by some other appellation, such as petroleum geologist or
mining geologist.
The structural work of petroleum geologists consist in making structural maps,
cross-sections, geology maps, and isopach maps, in detecting and mapping faults,
correlating well logs, writing reports, making recommendations based on structural
data, conferences, research, furnishing information to other departments of the
company,and interpreting geophysical surveys. Work which involves making
graphical representations of structural features, such as maps and cross sections, is
likely to be given to a geologist soon after he joins the company, and reports and
recommendations are frequently written by more experienced geologists. However,
both types of work are likely to be given to structural geologists at any time.

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It has been generally recognized that a student who has definite plans to become
a petroleum geologist needs three types of education in structural geology: theory,
field work and laboratory training. What is here called theory consists- in listening
to lectures and reading books and periodicals on structural subjects. Mapping of
structural features the field is important part of the training of a petroleum
geologist, even if he never expects to do field work after graduation. In fact college
courses involving fieldwork are more needed now than they were a generation ago,
for Petroleum geologists at the present time really get training in surface field
mapping after being employed. The best areas for geology students to secure field
training in structural geology are those in which we read types of structures are
well exposed. Reasons of undeformed strata and gentle dips are not satisfactory for
this purpose.
Laboratory training in structural geology is considered to consist in practice in
constructing maps, cross sections, block diagrams and the like. It is clear that this
type of work is an essential feature of the training of every petroleum geologist.
For some time after a geologist joints an oil company his structural work is likely
to consist in making structural maps and cross sections in similar activities in
which laboratory training rather than theoretical knowledge is needed. A geologist
whose laboratory training is defective will be handicapped in securing a job and in
giving satisfaction after he is employed.
The amount of mathematical training a student in structural geology needs
depends somewhat on what field he will enter. Those who will become petroleum
engineers or geophysicists need a good deal of mathematics and physics. There has
been a tendency for some phases or problems of petroleum geology to become
more quantitative and more mathematical with time. The interpretation of electrical
well logs is an example of this. Furthermore, some research problems or
investigations of subjects related to structural geology require extensive knowledge
of higher mathematics and physics for their solution. During the ordinary structural
work, petroleum geologists frequently need to use trigonometry, but they rarely
need knowledge of higher mathematics. Structural problems of great complexity
frequently arise in the work of a petroleum geologist, but their complications are
geometrical or geological. In this age of specialization it may be better to leave
problems involving extensive knowledge of physics and mathematics to the
geophysicists.
Petroleum geologist could study with profit the special branch of mathematics
which deals with probabilities, random errors and correlation coefficients, and in
general with the applications of the laws of chance. Some problems in the field are
the prediction of the chances of success of a given number of wildcat wells,
determining the effects of various structural and stratigraphic conditions on the
chances of success, studying the relations of oil and gas fields to structural and
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stratigraphic conditions, deciding whether geophysical anomalies of various types
show any significant relation to structural or stratigraphic features, and deciding
whether the variations in the hydrocarbon content of soils show any significant
relation of oil and gas fields.
Opinions differ as to the amount of specialised training needed by a petroleum
geologist, as to the time when he should begin to specialise, and as to the nature of
his special studies. A geologist tends to look with favour on the type of education
he has himself received, and on the type needed by his speciality. Some
universities change the curriculum slowly in response to changing needs, and
subjects which have been taught for long time and to acquire a certain amount of
prestige in academic circles. On the one hand there is danger of dealing too much
with subject matter of general interest but no actually is fullness in prospecting for
oil, and on the other hand there is danger of concentrating so intensively on the
immediately practical that the instruction degenerates into a trade course.
The subject matter of structural geology comprises a number of somewhat
disconnected fields, such as structural problems related to mining, studies of the
major structural features of the earth and their origin, and structural importance in
petroleum geology. A geologist entering the petroleum industry is benefited by a
course dealing primarily in the structures of oil fields and sedimentary rocks, just
as a geologist entering mining geology would benefit most from a course
emphasizing the types of structure he will encounter in his future work. It does not
appear practicable to cover all phases of structure thoroughly in a single semester
course, or in a textbook of ordinary length.
About half of all graduates in Geology who became professional geologist of
some type enter the petroleum industry. This is about 10 times as many as enter the
mining industry. It therefore appears that about two third of all geology students
need a course and textbook emphasizing the structural problems of petroleum
geology and sedimentary rocks.

Typical job duties for a petroleum geologist include:

Use of physics, mathematics and geological knowledge in exploration for


oil, gas or minerals
Interpret geophysical information in project reports
Conduct field studies to analyze project data
Accurately estimate fuel amounts using various techniques including
geochemical analysis, ground-based sonar or satellite mapping
Use equipment such as diamond core drillers, atomic absorption
spectrometers and gas chromatographs

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Develop knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS) and global
positioning (GPS) systems and interpret data collected from these
technologies
Implement drilling strategies for extraction of fuel
Create and present post-project reports and maps to present to a
supervisor, such as a chief geologist or project manager
Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills for working with
other geoscientists

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Application of Structural data and techniques in discovery and
development of oil and gas fields.
Petroleum geologists should have the knowledge of structural geology and
he should be able to put it in practical in wildcatting and in developing the oil and
gas fields. He should be able to coordinate all this structural information and use it
in practical manner in prospecting and development of oil and gas fields.

RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF STRUCTURAL DATA

In applying structural techniques and data to problems of oil field


development, geologist should keep in mind to important considerations. One is
the economic aspect of the operations, and the other is that other factor besides
structure affect the occurrence of oil and gas. The economic limitations to securing
and applying structure information to not mean that this information is any less
important, but they do condition and guide exploration activities related to
structure. Stratigraphic traps are examples of occurrences of oil and gas which are
not produced solely by structural effects. There appears to be a general opinion that
stratigraphic traps in slowly grow in relative importance in the future. If this
happens, it will increase somewhat the importance of stratigraphic method of
locating oil at the expense of structural techniques. However, structure is very
useful for finding traps which are partly stratigraphic in nature. Although the
relative importance of stratigraphic studies is likely to grow larger in the latter
stages of the oil industry, a knowledge of structure will always be valuable also.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN WILDCATTING


The various practical problems involving the use of structure in wildcatting are
related to :
The cost of acquiring structure information
The cash value of the data i.e. what return will you get from the data
The chances of feilding production in various traps
The ultimate production of oil and gas from each field which may be
expected if production is found
The amount of oil or gas recovery per acre and per well which may be
expected
The cost of leases, the cost of drilling wells and producing oil and gas
Cost of pipelines, the character of titles, taxes and the prices of oil and gas
The demand for oil and gas

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The variations in the price of materials and labour

A number of the others are related to petroleum engineering or to business


procedures. Every petroleum geologist should know something about the bearing
of these practical considerations on the use of structure in petroleum development.
The sole function of some petroleum geologists is to describe the structure, letting
others in the company take the responsibility of deciding on the practical problems.
However, even in this case and knowledge of the values of the structures he finds
and describes would help a geologist in his structural works. Moreover, if a
geologist is promoted to Executive positions, or becomes independent, he is certain
to have to deal with the practical or economic aspects of structure.
Thus, a petroleum geologist should learn to deal with the practical or economic
aspects of the structure.

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REFERENCES

Websites:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structural_geology
http://petrowiki.org/Structural_geology
https://www.quora.com/Why-is-structural-geology-important
Books:

Structural Geology for Petroleum Geologist by William Russell (1955)


Structural Geology by Marland P. Billings (Third Edition) (1972)

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