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SC - 06 The Geology of Unconventional Reservoirs

Society of Exploration Geophysicists

Thursday, 22 July Sunday, 25 July 2021, 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.  |  Houston, Texas

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Who Should Attend

Intermediate Level

Prerequisites (Knowledge/Experience/Education Required)

General knowledge of basic geology and interest in building technical bridges between geoscience sub-disciplines and with petroleum engineering.


  • Define the primary types of unconventional reservoirs and the geoscience controls on whether an unconventional hydrocarbon accumulation exists and can be exploited economically
  • Construct simple unconventional reservoir exploration and development workflows. Which geoscience and engineering data types are needed, and at what stage of the E&P cycle?
  • Identify the appropriate geo- and rock-physics tools that are useful for exploration and development of different unconventional reservoir types. What makes some methods useful in some situations but not others?
  • Effectively communicate with other geoscience and petroleum engineering disciplines by gaining a shared understanding of their tools and paradigms
  • Develop applied and fundamental geophysics and rock-physics research programs that are best suited for unconventional reservoir exploration and development

Course Content

This 16 hour course will include a mix of lectures, short exercises and discussion sessions. The content will be prepared to anticipate the likelihood that participants will have different levels of technical knowledge about petroleum geology. In addition to defining the main unconventional reservoir types, the course will distinguish between exploration and development drivers, and expose participants (through short, hands-on exercises) to other types of geoscience and engineering tools (Rock Eval, XRD, decline curves, etc.) of importance for unconventional reservoir characterization. The technical content draws mostly upon the instructor’s personal experience with the different reservoir types, and the format draws upon his 25+ years of professional instruction experience.

The course begins by leading participants through a review of basic petroleum geology concepts (stratigraphy, structure, reservoirs, source rocks, etc.) and contrasts the distinctive characteristics of conventional and unconventional reservoirs. Most of the course will focus on describing, discussing and analyzing the three main types of unconventional reservoirs:

  1. Source-rock reservoirs (“shale plays”) such as the Eagle Ford or Vaca Muerta.
  2. Low-permeability sandstones, including naturally fractured tight-gas sandstones (e.g., Rocky Mountain basins) and tight-oil accumulations (e.g., Bakken).
  3. Fractured tight carbonates such as the Austin Chalk or fractured Paleozoic carbonate reservoirs of the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere. (Other types of unconventional reservoirs, such as coalbed methane or fractured granites, can be covered as time/interest permit.)

Hybrid systems, which include different unconventional reservoir types and/or a mix of conventional and unconventional reservoirs, will also be covered. For each reservoir type, participants will learn about their distinguishing geologic characteristics, consider how engineers will choose to drill and complete them, examine two case studies, and discuss which types of geophysical tools can be used/adapted to better explore for and develop them.


Professional Members
Professional Non-Members
Class Limit
Professionals 20
Students 5
Educational Credits
1.6 IACET accredited CEU
Fee Includes
Course Notes
Access to recording



Bruce Hart is a consultant and Adjunct Professor at Western University in Ontario, Canada. He previously held positions with Equinor/Statoil, ConocoPhillips, McGill University, New Mexico Tech, Penn State, and the Geological Survey of Canada. During that time, he worked as a researcher, technical specialist and explorationist for shale plays, tight-gas sandstones, tight-oil plays, fractured carbonates and other unconventional targets on six continents. He has a B.A. (Hons.) in Geography and Geology from McMaster University, a M.Sc. in Océanographie from l’Université du Québec à Rimouski, and a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Western Ontario.

Bruce’s research unapologetically links different geoscience disciplines (geology, geophysics, geochemistry) to each other and to petroleum engineering disciplines (completions, reservoir, production). In recognition of that work, he toured as the AAPG/SEG Distinguished Lecturer in 2009–2010 and 2016–2017. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications (three of which have won Best Paper awards) on shales, seismic attributes, stratigraphy, fractured reservoirs, pore-pressure prediction, sequence stratigraphy, and other topics. He authored a digital textbook on seismic interpretation for AAPG and has given short courses on that topic in Houston, London, Cairo, Kuala Lumpur, Calgary, Vienna, and elsewhere.



SC - 06 The Geology of Unconventional Reservoirs
George R. Brown Convention Center
1001 Avenida De Las Americas
Houston, Texas 77010
United States
(713) 853-8000