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- - Characterisation

Subsurface Characterisation

Previous research at the University of Leeds has supported exploration and production of hydrocarbons by improving our understanding of the rocks that store and seal these petroleum reservoirs. This research also fundamentally underpins the energy transition as the same techniques are required to implement mitigation technologies such as carbon capture and storage, to site wind farms and generate heat from geothermal reservoirs. We are actively re-orientating our research as we seek to deliver on the objectives of the University's climate plan.

Our expertise at Leeds builds on decades of research in sedimentology, stratigraphy, geomechanics, reservoir engineering, and petrophysics. Our laboratory and research facilities are amongst the best in the world for studying multiphase fluid migration through rocks. Sedimentology at Leeds covers a broad spectrum of research that contributes directly to characterising hydrocarbon plays in the subsurface.

Recent research projects

Evolution and deformation of sedimentary basins

The Basin Structure Group (BSG) provides an integrated approach to researching the evolution and deformation of sedimentary basins. Using seismic reflection interpretation, field studies and structural modelling, the group aims to develop a better understanding of basins in a variety of tectonic settings. In addition, many of the studies involve integration of structural basin analysis with a broader tectonic framework and petroleum systems modelling in both extensional and compressional margins. Lead researcher: Prof Douglas Paton.

Carbonate Reservoir Characterisation

The key aim of Carbonate Fault Rock Group is to create a step change in modelling the impact of faults on fluid flow in carbonate rocks. This has been achieved through a combined approach of new experimental work, data mining and integration of petrophysical and mechanical property analysis with microstructural analysis of fault rocks obtained from outcrop and core to identify the key geomechanical controls on fault rock properties, as well as their impact on fluid flow. The research helps predict reservoir performance in faulted carbonate rocks. Lead researcher: Prof Quentin Fisher.

Prediction of fault-related fluid flow

The key aim of the FAULTPROP project is to develop a database of high quality measurements of the single and multiphase properties of fault rocks to enhance the ability of industry to predict fault-related fluid flow in petroleum systems. Key work elements include measuring the absolute permeability and the Mercury-injection threshold pressures of fault rocks at reservoir stress conditions; developing methods to correct legacy fault rock property data so that current databases can continue to be used with some confidence; assess the impact of wettability alteration on the capillary pressure and relative permeability of fault rocks; and assess methods to model the relative permeability and capillary pressure of fault rocks using easy to derive measurements such as micro-CT scanning and Hg-injection analysis. Lead researcher: Prof Quentin Fisher.

Geological characterisation of fluvial and aeolian sediments

The principal aim of the The Fluvial and Eolian Research Group is to bring together a broad range of expertise for the study of fluvial and eolian systems with the aim of developing a better understanding of both the behaviour and evolution of modern rivers and dune fields and the applied significance of ancient fluvial and eolian sedimentary successions for gaining a better understanding of hydrocarbon and related mineral reserves. Lead researcher: Prof Nigel Mountney.

Characterisation and modelling of base-of-slope to basin floor stratigraphic traps associated with submarine lobe deposits

LOBE3 aims to reduce uncertainties in the geometry and distribution of base-of-slope to basin floor stratigraphic traps associated with lobes; investigate impact of salt diapirism on submarine lobe deposit architecture; improve our ability to interpret 3D stacking patterns of basin-floor systems from 1D well log data; quantify the degree of confinement of lobe systems; test exportability and applicability of outcrop-derived concepts to data-rich post-rift subsurface systems and salt-influenced systems; and construct geomodels and virtual outcrops to support cost-efficient, non-field-based and blended training programmes. Lead researcher: Prof David Hodgson.

Characterisation of low permeability sandstone reservoirs

A key aim of Petrophysics of Tight Gas Sandstone Reservoirs (PETGAS) is to consolidate existing petrophysical data supplemented by new standard and special core analysis to create an atlas of the petrophysical properties of tight gas sands. This provides new insight into the controls of the petrophysical properties (e.g. diagenesis, grain-size, stress etc.), and stress dependency of permeability and relative permeability of tight gas sands and examines the implications of results for production strategies in tight gas reservoirs. Lead researcher: Prof Quentin Fisher.

Geological characterisation of shallow marine sediments

The Shallow Marine Research Group focuses on cutting-edge applied shallow marine research, with emphasis on characterisation of subsurface sedimentary architecture to provide a better understanding of issues related to environmental geology, hydrocarbon systems, mining and mineral exploration, appraisal of groundwater aquifers and carbon sequestration. The research programme covers the following sedimentary environments and reservoir types: deltas, estuaries, paralic wave- and tide-dominated shorelines and clastic shelves. Lead researcher: Prof David Hodgson.

Flow dynamics and deposits of turbidity currents

The aim of the Turbidites Research Group (TRG) is to study the flow dynamics and deposits of turbidity currents and related flow types via outcrop studies, flume experiments, seismic and metadata studies and theoretical approaches. Improved understanding of the processes involved in deposition leads to a better capacity to predict sand distributions, and characterise reservoir properties. Lead researcher: Prof Bill McCaffrey.

SHAPE-UK - Impact of hydraulic fracturing in the overburden of shale resource plays

Resources in shales normally require hydraulic fracture stimulation in order to achieve production at economic rates. This NERC funded project provides a robust framework with which to assess, monitor and mitigate risks of leakage into the sediments in close proximity to UK shale gas prospects. A linked series of work packages that integrate geology, geophysics, geochemistry, petroleum engineering and geomechanics, help understand the mechanical processes occurring in the subsurface, which are dependent on the composition of the rock, the chemistry of the fluids, and the structures they encounter (e.g., faults). Lead researcher: Prof Quentin Fisher.