‘Understanding Carbonate Mudrocks’: Sedimentary rocks that produce oil and gas

A special lecture by Dr. John D. Humphrey at GUtech

HALBAN Carbonate mudrocks are limestones that exist in many parts of Oman and elsewhere. The process of their formation and significance in different environments and their application within the oil and gas sector was explained yesterday by Prof. Dr. John D. Humphrey at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) as part of a special student lecture tour organized by the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE). Dr. Humphrey is from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in Saudi Arabia. He presented a lecture entitled “Understanding Carbonate Mudrocks” in the University’s Research Hall. According to Prof. Humphrey, Oman is a great place to study carbonate rocks, for both conventional carbonate systems and unconventional deep-water carbonates. During the lecture, case studies of mudstone/chalk reservoirs were presented. Carbonate mudrocks are made of calcium carbonates, many of which are so-called source rocks that produce and store reservoirs of oil and gas. They have been deposited millions of years ago as chalks, starting with the Jurassic age. These carbonate mudrocks are increasingly becoming the targets of unconventional petroleum system exploration and development. These deposits are important for both conventional and unconventional petroleum systems. Amal Al Hajri, 4th year student in Applied Geosciences said that Prof. Humphrey’s talk helped her to plan for her thesis. “I would like to include chalks in my Bachelor thesis studies,” she said.

Prof. Humphrey visited Oman in 2002 for the first time from the USA. He has more been recently working at KFUPM, and has been a regular visitor for summer school excursions with his students. “There are many amazing, remarkable geological exposures in Oman,” he said. He and his students and other professors usually visit and explore different rock formations in Jebel Shams, Wadi Tiwi, Salalah, and other sites in Oman every summer. There are plans to have joint summer excursions with GUtech in future.

Dr. John D. Humphrey is Associate Professor and Assistant Chairman of Geosciences at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. His appointment is in the Department of Geosciences, within the College of Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences. Prof. Humphrey received his Ph.D. degree from Brown University/ USA in Geological Sciences. Prior to joining KFUPM in 2017, he spent 25 years on the faculty of Geology and Geological Engineering at Colorado School of Mines in USA. He was Head of Department for seven years there.

His areas of specialization include carbonate diagenesis and geochemistry, carbonate sedimentology and stratigraphy, carbonate reservoir characterization, unconventional carbonate reservoirs, stable isotope geochemistry, and paleoclimatology. He has been a consultant to the oil and gas and mining industries for thirty years. Dr. Humphrey is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a Trustee Associate of the American Association of Petroleum.

‘Understanding Carbonate Mudrocks’ – An EAGE lecture by Prof Dr. John Humphrey

HALBAN As part of a student lecture tour organized by the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE), Prof. Dr. John D. Humphrey, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, will give a lecture on “Understanding Carbonate Mudrocks”. The lecture will be held at GUtech on Monday, 21 October. “We are looking forward to an interesting talk by an internationally renown carbonate rock specialist. Carbonate mudrocks are of specific interest to Oman and the wider region as source rocks for oil and gas. Prof. Humphrey has been extensive teaching, research and consultancy experience within the oil and gas and mining industries,” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech.

Fine-grained, mud-dominated, carbonate rocks can form in a variety of sedimentary environments. While sub-environments of shallow-water tropical carbonate systems are capable of producing muddy facies, this talk focuses on predominantly pelagic carbonates in slope and basin settings. Increasingly, such carbonate mudrocks are becoming the targets of unconventional petroleum system exploration and development. Basinal accumulations of pelagic carbonate (either platform or open ocean derived) can be associated with anoxic to suboxic conditions conducive to preservation of marine organic matter. These organic-rich carbonate mudrocks tend to be brittle and are therefore viable targets for hydraulic fracturing completions. Other carbonate mudrock systems are economically important conventional reservoirs, such as the Upper Cretaceous to Paleogene chalks of the North Sea. The lecture will consider the sedimentology and diagenesis of pelagic carbonates, including ecological controls on carbonate production, chemical controls on carbonate accumulation, and the effects of burial diagenesis on carbonate mudrock reservoir quality. Case studies of mudstone/chalk reservoirs will be presented.

Dr. John D. Humphrey is Associate Professor and Assistant Chairman of Geosciences at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. His appointment is in the Department of Geosciences, within the College of Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences. His areas of specialization include carbonate diagenesis and geochemistry, carbonate sedimentology and stratigraphy, carbonate reservoir characterization, unconventional carbonate reservoirs, stable isotope geochemistry, and paleoclimatology. He has been a consultant to the oil and gas and mining industries for thirty years. Dr. Humphrey is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a Trustee Associate of the American Association of Petroleum.

Prof. Humphrey received his B.S. degree in Geology at the University of Vermont, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Cum Laude. Dr. Humphrey received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from Brown University in Geological Sciences. He was on the faculty of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Dallas from 1986 to 1991. Beginning in 1991, Dr. Humphrey was a professor of Geology and Geological Engineering at Colorado School of Mines. He was twice awarded the Alumni Teaching Award for the top educator at CSM (1998, 2014). He served as Department Head from 2006 to 2013. From 2013 to 2015, he was Interim Director of the CSM Chevron Center of Research Excellence. He retired from Mines in 2015 and joined KFUPM in 2017.

Caption: Late Permian Khuff Formation, a seqence of muddy limestones and marls, northern Huqf, Oman.

 

Technical Workshop on the Underground Storage for Hydrogen in Oman held at RWTH Aachen

HALBAN A technical workshop on the underground storage for hydrogen gas in Oman was held in July at GUtech’s German partner-university, RWTH Aachen University. The workshop was held in preparation for the Oman Hydrogen Initiative. „An efficient storage and buffer systems for hydrogen are essential for a large scale production and application of green hydrogen,” said the Rector of GUtech, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Modigell. In addition Prof Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences participated in the workshop. Prof. Peter Kukla, Dean of the Faculty of Georesources and Materials Engineering at RWTH Aachen University, Prof. Dr. Janos Urai, Professor of Structural Geology and Tectonics at RWTH Aachen University and fly-in professor at GUtech, and Prof. Dr. Hartmut Krause from TU Freiburg (Germany) as well as Dr. Bernd Wiemann and Gunther Weber from Hydrogen Rise participated in the one day workshop.

During the workshop, Prof. Bauer gave an overview of the Geology of Oman and research that is currently conducted at GUtech. Prof. Krause from TU Freiburg explained the HYPOS project on hydrogen storage in caverns, its framework conditions and the planned project work. According to Prof. Wilfried Bauer there are six exposed salt domes of Ediacaran/Cambrian Ara salt in the central Ghaba Salt basin in the South of Oman. Main source rocks, so called Cryogenian-Cambrian Huqf Supergroup are the oldest source rock for oil and gas. Further research is required to identify the best reservoirs for the storage of hydrogen which could be either an empty old gas reservoir or a cavern within one of the salt domes of Oman.

© GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer

 

Current Situation and Future Direction of Mineral Resources Education in Oman discussed during the Oman Mining Expo

During the Oman Mining Expo 2019 which is currently held at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech and Prof Dr. Frank Mattern from Sultan Qaboos University gave a presentation entitled: ‘Current Situation and Future Direction of the Mineral Resources Education in Oman’.

“With a growing mineral resources industry in Oman the demand for well-trained graduates and post-graduates in the field of geosciences will increase over the next years” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer. Therefore, applied geoscientists play a key role through the lifetime of a mining project that can take up to 20 years. Graduates in Applied Geosciences as well as specialist in Economic Geology, Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Geoengineering will have ample opportunities in the mining sector.

Over the next 5 years, approximately 70-80 graduates will graduate from both universities in Oman each year. According to internal surveys conducted at GUtech , up to 30% of these graduates consider continuing with Master studies abroad or in Oman. However, this number strongly depends on the availability of financial support for Master degrees. In countries with a developed mining industry, e.g. in the United States, the ratio between academically trained workforce in the mineral industry is 1 PhD-holder versus 2.2 Masters versus 6.5 Bachelor graduates. Taking into consideration that Oman’s basement is still underexplored, it is recommended that a high number of post-graduates can adjust standard mining methods and develop exploration programmes in largely greenfield settings.

“From a higher education perspective, a lack of mining engineers has been identified. This could be a bottleneck for future developments of the industry. During the last years, global employment rates of mining engineers were above 95%  which means there are limited open job opportunities on the global job market. From the side of the job seekers, Omani graduates are currently focusing on jobs in the oil and gas industry. It will be a challenge to create more interest in jobs in the mineral industry and attract the brightest minds” said Prof. Wilfried Bauer.

Currently only two higher education institutions in Oman, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), provide advanced education for the mining industry. The education in the mineral resource sector covers principal courses in Mineralogy, Mineral Resources and Mineral Exploration at the bachelor level. Courses in Ore Mineralogy, Orebody Modelling, Mineral Production & Processing are part of a recently introduced or running Master curricula at GUtech.

The objective of the two-day mining conference is to provide a venue for the industry as well as regulators to discuss various issues and challenges as well as to explore emerging opportunities and latest developments in Oman’s mining and minerals sector.

 

Wadi clean-up organised by Applied Geosciences students

HALBAN Fourteen female students from the German University of Technology (GUtech) conducted a 10-day fieldtrip to explore and study the geology of Oman. They were guided by Prof Dr. Gösta Hoffmann from Bonn University in Germany. Prof. Dr. Gösta is a geosciences expert in the field; he has run several international projects and has been granted the national research award for his work by The Research Council (TRC). The fieldtrip logistics were professionally organised by Golden Highlands, the leading geo-tourism company in Oman.

For the students the trip was a once in a lifetime experience. Most of them have never camped outside before. Another breath-taking experience was the mountain scenery the students saw when travelling in 4-wheel cars along small gravel roads through the mountains. “Driving through Wadi Bani Awf was amazing, extraordinary and exciting for me,“ said Alaa al Mahdouri, 7th semester Geoscience student. One of the better known spectacular places that the group visited was Wadi al Abbyad. Prof Gösta explained: “Wadi al Abbyad is special for a variety of reasons: it is a perennial river, meaning it flows all year. Because of this there are very special animals and plants. Furthermore, it is an extraordinary place in terms of geology. It is probably the best place in the world to actually see the interior of the planet earth. In other countries such a place would already be recognised as a National Park. As far as I know such initiatives are under way but at the moment the place has a severe issue with rubbish. People come here for picnic and leave everything behind. Luckily the younger generation is aware of the problem and the group of 14 female GUtech students started a wadi clean-up.” Aziza al Jahwari lined out: “I felt so bad to see all this rubbish in such a wonderful place. I felt much better when we started to collect the rubbish.” Shatha al Gahfri asked “Until we do not care about our planet and until when will people think this is a normal behaviour? If everyone takes his own rubbish and takes a little bit more, we will solve this issue.”

As part of the field-trip, the group of students collected 237 kg of rubbish. Most of the items collected were clearly related to picnic activities, a problem that can be easily solved. „It is the second clean-up organised by Golden Highlands, after a beach clean-up last year with the professors from the German Geological Association (DGGV).” said Prof. Dr. Gosta. “It is our company’s responsibility to keep these places and our country clean. We therefore are an eco-friendly tour company in Oman. We try to minimise the amount of rubbish during the trips as much as possible. We do not distribute soft drinks in cans and water in plastic bottles. We provide solutions for refill and the customers use one mug through the trip. This mug they even take home as a souvenir. We also avoid plastic bags when shopping for groceries but use our own re-useable Golden Highland bags. Funny enough, people want to buy our bags as well instead of using plastic bags. We might even think of a business opportunity here,” said Mansoor al Shabibi, CEO of Golden Highlands.

“The clean-up was very successful and I am very happy that this initiative was organised by the students themselves”, concluded Prof Gösta. The logistics for the wadi clean-up was supported by Golden Highlands. Mansoor al Shabibi: “As the leading geo-tourism company in the country, operating for more than 10 years now, we know that the deserts, mountains, wadis and beaches are the unique resources that our business is based on. People come from all over the world to see and study these places. If we spoil them, we lose our unique selling point. Besides that, we harm our own country.”

Mubarak al Harrasi, group supervisor of Golden Highlands said: “I am happy to be in company with the students, these are open-minded ladies, I feel like their brother. We usually cater for international guests, but it is a very rewarding job to show our local people the beauties of the country. On these trips we usually travel to very remote areas that most people have not believed to exist in Oman.”

GUtech students win the third place in the AAPG Imperial Barrel Award

HALBAN Five Applied Geosciences students have won the third place in the prestigious AAPG Imperial Barrel Award semifinals that were held at GUtech in the past days. The students who are studying in the their final year in Applied Geosciences had to solve different geological tasks in groups such as analyzing a data set including geology, geophysics, production infrastructure, and other relevant materials for an oil exploration in the North Sea. “Our GUtech team with Anwaar, Jahina, Omer, Sara, and Shihab won the third place which is a great success, they worked very hard and achieved results that normally can only be expected on the level of Master Students,” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences. The Department of Applied Geosciences has been hosting the annual event for the first time. On the second day, all students from competing universities participated in an excursion through the Oman Mountains, led by Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer and Prof. Dr. Ivan Callegari, where they had a chance to study typical reservoir and source rocks of the Arabian Platform and their structural styles in the field.

Each team had to deliver their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts and professors. Students had the chance to use state of the art technology on a real dataset, receive feedback from an industry panel of judges, network with potential employers in the audience, and win cash awards for their school. The judges selected the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation. The AAPG Imperial Barral Award is a hands-on opportunity for students to experience the creative process and the high-tech science that is the foundation of the Energy Industry today.

Students from Sultan Qaboos University (Oman) won the first place followed by the Lebanese University (Lebanon). The winning team will participate in the final competition to be held in Texas (USA). Students from King Abdulaziz University, Hashemite University, the University of Jordan, Kuwait University, United Arab Emirates University and Yarmouk University participated in the competition.

(c) GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and AGEO Department

The Dean’s List Award Ceremony – 55 students awarded

HALBAN The Dean’s List Award Ceremony was held in the large GUtech amphitheatre to celebrate the achievements of 55 GUtech students and to commemorate the 6th anniversary of His Majesty’s visit to the university. “We only recently introduced the Dean’s List as a way to recognize outstanding academic achievements. The Dean’s List is a very enviable accomplishment that is only given to our top students” said Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs.

The criteria for the award were an outstanding academic achievement, the top 10% of the students, a minimum GPA of 3.5, registered for a minimum of 25 credit points, no incomplete or failing grades, no disciplinary written warning letters and an IELTS 6.0 or equivalent. Dr. Armin congratulated the students along with the Head of each academic Department. “You should be proud of the award. You worked hard, attended many lectures, and in addition spent many hours studying on your own or in groups. And it paid off. Your efforts were worth it. However, efforts alone are not sufficient to get on the Dean’s List. You also need to have the intellectual abilities that are needed for this distinction. You need to have the skills to work through complexities, solve problems, find solutions and communicate them well. Today you are being recognized for this combination of your efforts and your skills,” said Dr. Armin. Moreover, the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs stressed that the university commemorates the 6th anniversary of the visit of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said to GUtech. On the 24th of December His Majesty honoured the university with a special private visit. “We are proud of His Majesty’s recognition of our achievements. It shows how His Majesty values us as individuals, our university, our educational ethos, and the benefits that we as an institution bring to the country of Oman. Ultimately, it is through you, our students that GUtech contributes to Oman. You get a superb education here at GUtech. In a few years when you join the workforce, you will be the ones who add value to the Omani economy. And this is what makes me proud of being part of GUtech. It allows me to not only educate individuals for the sake of getting a degree, but I can help develop the future leaders of Oman. This is a real privilege,” said Dr. Armin Eberlein. Many GUtech students and friends attended the ceremony. Finally one GUtech student mentioned that this award ceremony serves as a motivational event for other students to study hard in order to be part of the list next year.

(c) GUtech: Text Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Fatma Al Balushi

The following GUtech students were awarded for their outstanding achievements:

Majd Al Kayyal
Murooj Mohammed Al Busaidi
Mohammed Salim Al Haddabi
Jawaher Said Al Ghadani
Maram Mudather Mohamed
Maha Surur Al Busaidi
Halayel Ahmed Al Saadi
Aisha Salim Al Balushi
Arwa Saud Al Zadjali
Firdaus Nabil Al Barwani
Reem Said Al Mushikhi
Mohamed Saleh Al Alawi
Shadhan Hamood Al Rashdi
Sara Haroon Al Bartamani
Loay Imad Al Lawati
Husam Yaqoob Al Siyabi
Khamis Hassan
Fatma Fuad El Sheibany
Zoudat Mohamed Al Aufi
Ahmed Juma Abdulla
Khuzama Salim Al Shezawi
Badria Humuod Al Mauly
AL Ghaith Ali Al Ghaithi
Anwar Rashid AL Hajri
Fatema Nour Al Din Al Farsi
Belqees Ali Al Hinaai
Riyan Yahya Al Wahshi
Sara Tariq Al Bulushi
Maisa Mohammed Al Hinai
Lora Awadh Al Alawi
Maryam Abdul Razzaq Al Raisi
Haitham Anwar Al Rawas
Taif Mohamed Al Kindi
Eilaf Khalid Al Busaidi
Marah Khalfan Al Aufi
Abir Talib Al Kharusi
Ghazalah Nabi Baksh Al Balushi
Shurooq Mohammed Al Busaidi
Nama Yousuf Al Bulushi
Manaf Mohamed Al Raisi
Alaa Mohsin Al Ajmi
Fatema Jamal Al Busaidi
Sanad Sulaiman Al Rawahi
Mallak Yousuf Al Senani
Shaima Hilal Al Jahwari
Fatma Mohammed Al Farsi
Noorin Adil Al Busaidi
Fatma Ali Al Barwani
Ammar Abdulhameed Al Kiyumi
Sara Hamood Al Naamani
Melika Naderi
Juhaina Abdullah Al Salmi
Qatr Al Nada Abdul Rahman Al Hinai
Samahram Is’haq Al Hashli
Melina Naderi

 

Geosteering makes Geosciences faster and more efficient

HALBAN To connect the university with the industry and to present how to overcome challenges faced in the oil industry with a unique Geosteering IT software, Dr. Vlad Karen Payrazyan gave an ‘Industry Talk’ at the Department of Applied Geosciences of GUtech. “Through geosteering, many more jobs will be created in the region in future,” said Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Applied Geosciences Department.

“A modern  Geosteering software makes geosciences related to horizontal drilling  faster and more efficient,” said Dr. Vlad Payrazyan, CEO of ROGII, StarSteer Premier Geosteerinig Software, while adding that the software can increase in particular the precision for horizontal drilling which is increasingly applied worldwide. Through multi-well real time geosteering, data integration and cloud collaborative technologies more  oil rigs can be monitored at the same time delivering excellent well placement results. Dr. Vlad Payrazyan and his team are currently visiting the GCC; he has been visiting Oman for the first time. Previously Dr. Vlad Payrazyan has been working on various projects in Russia, Venezuela, Brazil and in United States. “The geosciences industry has to adapt to changes and increasing challenges,” said Dr. Vlad Payrazyan. The world is moving from an easy drilling environment to difficult environmental challenges including tight shale resources, horizontal wells, big volumes of data, cost reduction and automatization. In addition, during the planning and drilling phase of the oil well geoscientists face various uncertainties, where a special geosteering software, such as StarSteer can support their work, through the analysis and integration of data from different sources (offset wells, seismic, chemostratigraphy, MWD/LWD, image logs, etc. real time geosteering and other cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning, predictive analytics and cloud virtual collaboration.

Dr. Vlad Payrazyan and his team are planning to support GUtech students with a special IT software and to train the students on the application. “I enjoy working with universities around the world while sharing my day to day experiences and challenges faced in the oil and gas industry,” said Dr. Vlad Karen Payrazyan. Five years ago together with two other partners he started the company that now employs more than 60 people in 9 international locations with over 200 clients among oil and gas operating and service companies around the world.

Dr. Vlad Karen Payrazyan received his PhD in Geosciences at Nancy Polytechnical University and an Executive MBA at INSEAD in France. For over 20 years he has worked for in the oil and gas industry, with Chevron (USA), Yukos (Russia), British Petroleum (UK) etc. He has also served on Management Boards and Board of Directors of major joint venture companies in Russia, Venezuela and Brazil.

© GUtech/Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

Geosciences students to attend the International Carbonate Course in Germany next year

MUSCAT Six Geosciences students of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) will participate in the Annual International Carbonate Course of the GeoCenter at the University of Erlangen (Germany). The students were awarded by the Rector Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell with GUtech study-scholarships for their travel to Germany in February/March 2019. The seminars will cover all classic and modern aspects of carbonate sedimentology and will include practical microscopy exercises using the worldwide largest carbonate thin- section and sediment sample collection of the GeoCenter. GUtech students will attend the course for the eighth time.

© Text: GUtech/Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Wasan Al Ghazi

Geosciences Professor conducted a Mining Workshop in Madagascar

HALBAN Professor Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences (AGEO) at GUtech, has recently conducted a scientific workshop on mineral resources and their exploration at the University of Antananarivo/Madagascar. On a global scale, Madagascar is an important producer of nickel, cobalt, ilmenite, and zircon. “The country has significant resources of flaky graphite, chromite, bauxite, Rare Earth minerals, iron ore and the largest known reserves of sapphire. Historically, gold and mica played also an important role but both commodities are currently exploited by artisanal miners only. Minerals account for approximately 35 % of the country’s exports of 2.2 billion USD (2014 data), most of it from a world class nickel-cobalt deposit. International mining companies like Rio Tinto and Sherritt invested in the development of the mineral sector,” said Prof. Bauer. With an increasing number of international exploration companies operating in the country, the need for mineral exploration courses cannot be covered by the existing university staff. “After having given a course about basic exploration techniques, I decided to offer an exploration geochemistry workshop for the specific needs of Madagascar, based on known types of mineral resources and the specific constraints due to tropical weathering and topography in Madagascar.” He said while explaining that he has a long-lasting relationship with the Science Faculty at the University of Antananarivo that dates back to 2005 when the Department of Geosciences supported him in as leader of a BGS-USGS mapping campaign with 10 student interns. Since that time, we upheld our connections,” said Prof. Bauer. The workshop was very successful, despite the fact that English plays a minor role in Madagascar and the normal education language is French. A similar follow-up workshop is planned to be held next year.

This summer, Prof. Bauer also supervised the start of a joint PhD project, between GUtech and the University in Northern Madagascar. The researchers started a petrological study in the North of Madagascar. Research samples are handled and processed at GUtech’s AGEO lab and the analyses are carried out at Lisboa University in Portugal.

Ends

© Text and Photo: GUtech/Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer and Dr. Manuela Gutberlet