Introduction to Play Elements

50min Advanced

  • Lecture Material
  • Exercise Introduction
  • Exercise Material
  • Exercise Solution
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The lecture material contained in this lesson leads students through the basic methods in oil discovery, and the five (5) major components you need to cook, contain, and preserve a resource play. The lecture material should take ~25 minutes to discuss. Following the lecture material, the instructor(s) should introduce the exercise, which will take ~25 minutes of class time. The exercise has a rather long introduction, thus the exercise itself should be given to the students as homework. The introduction is designed to equip students to perform the exercise, and they should be able to complete the exercise individually or on a team of up to three (3) members.

The exercise is designed with eight (8) blocks that have only recently become available for open bids. Typically, the seller gives oil companies six (6) months to submit bids. This exercise simulates a feasibility study - does the fictitious Bonanza Basin have a good set of play elements, such that it is worth a more thorough investigation?

Use the exercise introduction slides (and speaking points) to get the students started. The student should be able to complete the exercise in 30 minutes.


At the end of the lecture, students should be able to:

  • Describe the methods used to find hydrocarbons
  • Describe the five (5) main play elements needed for success
  • Interpret whether the fictitional Bonanza Basin has all of the necessary play elements

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This lecture and exercise material is given as the introduction to a course on the petroleum industry. 

The intended audience is undergraduate students majoring in a branch of geosciences. This course assumes that you have had physical and historical geology, and several other geoscience courses.

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A reservoir rock is the second essential element for a hydrocarbon play. This lesson follow that on 'Source Rocks', which is the first essential element for an effective hydrocarbon play. Students will learn about different terms (like porosity and permeability) that help to describe different types of reservoirs (conventional vs. unconventional). In addition, students will learn different geologic terms that will help to define and describe different environments of deposition (EODs).

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Related Courses

This course, based on teaching material from Dr. Fred Schroeder (formerly of Exxon/ExxonMobil), reflects on the geology and geophysics basics for the petroleum industry. General geology and basic geophysics are not required, but helpful with the material.

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