Petroleum Engineering

Study mode:Full-time Languages: English Duration:1 year
Local:$ 13.9k / 1 Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 37.8k / 1 Academic year(s) Deadline: Mar 31, 2021
StudyQA ranking:3080

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Programme designed to train professionals in the work-flow concepts now prevailing in the oil and gas industries, and to produce engineers that are fully prepared to work effectively in multi-disciplinary teams. The course begins in early October, and leads to award of a Master of Science (MSc) degree and to the Diploma of Imperial College (DIC).

The course is run by the Centre for Petroleum Studies, and is integrated with the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course. These courses share common disciplines and training in allied subjects. The interdependency of the two disciplines is emphasised throughout the course, including a major integrated team project involving the interpretation, synthesis and presentation of engineering, geological and geophysical data.

The course is managed by Professor M. Blunt (Director of the Centre for Petroleum Studies). It is supported by over 20 specialist internal and external staff with over 160 years of cumulative industrial experience. The course also benefits from contributions from industry professionals. The course runs for 12 months and is aimed at providing the necessary background for employment in the oil and gas industry or a springboard for a research degree, as well as providing an in-depth study and consolidation for those already working in industry.

There are three principal elements to the course:

  • Formal lectures, problem classes, laboratory and computer exercises. These take place on a full-time, structured basis from October to March in the normal academic terms. During the taught course, our students are taken on field trips including Scarborough and BP Sunbury. Formal examinations are conducted in the first two weeks of the Summer term with non- assessed tests at Christmas to monitor students' progress.
  • Group project work. This is a group exercise carried out by groups of about five to six students and involving an integrated study of the evaluation and development of part of a licence block (usually in the UKCS). The objective is to interrelate the separate subjects taught in formal lectures. Data for the project are analysed with prevailing commercial software as part of Modules II to IV and integrated into a development proposal as part of Module V. This is assessed initially by a presentation to the examiners at the end of the Spring term. After review and discussion, selected groups make further presentations to an invited audience from industry.
  • Individual research projects. After formal examinations and the presentation of group work in May, candidates will work on individual research type projects. These are submitted at the beginning of September and are examined both as a report and by an oral presentation in mid-September. Projects may be selected by the candidate, planned in cooperation with industrial sponsors or allocated by the Department.

Term one:
Module 1 - Fundamental Knowledge
Basic Petroleum Geology (15 hours)
• Introduction to the basic fundamentals of geology.
• Influence of Geologic Characteristics on Appraisal and Development
• Depositional Controls
• Pore Space Properties
• Aquifer Characterisation
• Reservoir Zonation and Thickness Mapping
• Reservoir Characterisation and Geological Modelling
Basic Petroleum Geophysics (6 hours)
• Seismic wave types
• Factors affecting seismic velocity
• Layer properties
• The convolutional model of the earth
• Seismic resolution
• Migration
Rock properties (9 hours)
• Porosity, Saturation, Permeability, Capillary pressure and pore size distributions
• Wettability
• Relative permeability and fractional flow
• Electrical and acoustic properties
Geological Field Trip (four and one half days)
Reservoir Fluids (12 hours)
• Nomenclature and units
• Reservoir, separator and surface conditions
• Hydrocarbon thermodynamics
• Classification of reservoirs
• PVT and phase behaviour of reservoir fluids
• Physical properties of liquids
• Gases
Hydrocarbons in-place and Reserves (3 hours)
• Reserve definitions and guidelines
• Volumetric derivation of hydrocarbons in-place
• Assessment of recovery factor
• Risk and uncertainty in resource estimation
• Deterministic and Probabilistic Methods
Flow In Porous Media (21 hours)
• Diffusivity Equation
• Line-Source solution
• Build-up, Multi-rate flow tests and superposition in time
• Linear boundaries and superposition in space
• Inner and Outer boundary conditions
• Advanced mathematical methods
• Flow of gases in porous media
• Multi-phase flow
Module 2 - Reservoir Characterisation
Production Mechanisms (3 hours)
• Primary and improved oil recovery
• Reservoir drives and production mechanisms
• Recovery factors
Petrophysics (36 hours)
• Coring: Coring and core analysis
• Routine (RCAL) and special core analysis (SCAL); sampling strategy; sample screening and
preparation; validity of samples and tests; correlations; application of data in reservoir
• Log analysis: borehole environment, invasion and resistivity profiles
• Electrical, Nuclear and Sonic logs
• Porosity, lithology, saturation and permeability estimation
 Practices and pitfalls of formation evaluation
Well Testing (36 hours)
• Interpretation model
• Identification, verification and mathematical representations
• Well test interpretation techniques (straight-line, pressure log-log and pressure derivative
• Near wellbore effects, reservoir behaviours, outer boundaries
• Gas wells
• Multiphase flow
• Special tests
• Test design
• Practical considerations
Fluid sampling and analysis (9 hours)
• Laboratory measurement of PVT
• Good sampling procedures
• Volatile oils
• Other properties - pour point, wax, asphaltenes, hydrates
Production logging (9 hours)
• PLT applications
• In-situ calibration
• Analysis of spinner response in single phase flow
• Temperature log applications
• 2-phase flow regimes
• PNL applications and interpretation methods
• Responses in horizontal wells
Integration into reservoir model (15 hours)
• Geostatistics
• Object-based and Pixel-based models for reservoir characterisation
• Multidisciplinary data integration
• The Do's and Don't's of uncertainty quantification
Uncertainties from Static to Dynamic (12 hours)
Group Project: Reservoir Characterisation Phase (3 weeks)
• Reserve estimates
• Preliminary 3D model
The students take 2 written papers in early January on:
Rock Properties and Reservoir Fluids (3 hour paper)
Well Testing and Flow in Porous Media (3 hour paper).
There are also take-home assignments in:
Petroleum Geology
These are marked and part of the MSc assessment. Their purpose is to give students a guide to their
own progress, especially for those who have returned to study after a period in industry and for our
overseas students to familiarise themselves with our examination procedures.
There are also take-home homeworks in most of the lectures. These are assessed and used as
evidence of progress and of the student’s understanding of the course. They also test elements of
numeracy and written communication skills.
Term 2
Term Two:
Module 3 - Well Performance
Well Construction (Drilling and Completion (18 hours)
• Oilfield drilling
• Well engineering
• Well design
• Drilling safety
 Completing wells
• Production
Production engineering/well performance (27 hours)
• Flow of fluids into the wellbore
• Single and multi-phase fluid flow in pipes
• Productivity Index (PI) and Inflow Performance Relationships (IPR) for oil and gas wells
• Nodal analysis
• Gas condensate wells
• Complex wells
• Well deliverability for oil and gas wells
• Artificial lift systems
Module 4 - Reservoir Performance
Reservoir performance prediction (33 hours)
• Material Balance: Conservation of mass and volume
• Gas reservoirs
• Oil reservoirs
• Accuracy of material balance equation
• Fluid displacement models: Immiscible displacement calculations
• Recovery factor
• Microscopic, vertical and areal sweep efficiencies
• Stratified reservoirs
• Decline curves: Exponential, hyperbolic, Fetkovich decline curve analysis. Ranges of validity
Streamline simulators
Numerical Simulators (21 hours)
• Reservoir models
• Equations and terminology
• Simulation models
• Grid systems
• Rock properties
• Model relative permeability
• Model capillary pressure
• Fluid properties and experiments
• Model fluid properties
• Aquifer treatment
• Model well and production data
• Tutorials
Economics (18 hours)
• Capex and Opex
• Future Cash Flows
• Measures of Financial Performance
• Effects of Phased and Incremental Projects
• Leasing and Outsourcing
• General Frameworks for Taxation
• Probabilistic and Monte-Carlo models
• Decision theory and Criteria
• External Financing and Loans
• Futures Markets
Upscaling (9 hours)
• Requirements for upscaling
• Upscaling of scalar properties and two-phase
• Limitations
• Validation of upscaled model and best practice
Practical Use of Simulators
• Eclipse features
• File organisation and structure
• Grids
• Fluid properties
• Rock properties
• Wells
• Aquifer modelling
 History matching
• Prediction
Group Project: Well Placement and Production Optimisation Phase (1 week)
• simulation model
• optimized well placement plan
• oil recovery
• cumulative oil production
• optimized well design
• artificial lift options
• a drilling plan
• casing design
Module 5 - Field Development
Process engineering/surface facilities (27 hours)
• Introduction To Surface Operations
• Fluid Separation
• Equilibrium Flash calculations
• Processing and conditioning of gas condensates and natural gases
• Hydrocarbon transportation and storage
Health, safety and environment (6 hours)
• Occupational safety and health
• Legal and administrative aspects
• Hazard identification and assessment
• Managing for safety
• Piper-Alpha tragedy and the Cullen Report
• Abandonment issues
Group Project: Development Plan Phase (2 weeks)
• improved recovery plan
• surface production facilities
• HSE plan
• economic viability
• abandonment plan
• assessment of risks
The students take 5 written examination papers, all of 3 hours in:
Rock Properties and Reservoir Fluids
Well Testing and Flow in Porous Media
Well Production and Optimisation
Reservoir Mechanics and Secondary Recovery
Process Engineering
plus assessed assignments in specific topics, such as:
Basic Petroleum Geology
Production Mechanisms and IOR
Drilling, Well Completions and Production Problems
Numerical simulators
Petroleum Economics

Term Three:
The Individual project
End of February area of interest is defined;
End of March specific topic and general objectives defined
Mid-May start project after the end of examinations;
End of May project review - a 10-minute presentation that highlights objectives, approach and plan
for the Project;


The minimum entrance qualification is a first class honours degree in science or engineering from a
UK university or its equivalent from an
overseas academic institution. Professionals with other qualifications, but with a minimum of three
years relevant industrial experience, are also
encouraged to apply.
All students for whom English is not a native language will need to demonstrate good command of
spoken and written English. The College
will normally accept students with a TOEFL score of at least 600, or an IELTS score of at least 6.5.

The course is supported with grants and scholarships by the petroleum industry (from the UK and elsewhere) which cover subsistence, College fees and field work expenses. These are normally awarded to home and EU students, and provide funding for about 30% of the total number of the candidates on the course. A scholarship day is held - usually in May - where applicants are interviewed by Imperial College staff and representatives from the organisations awarding the scholarships. Although no scholarships are available through Imperial College for overseas students, there are a number of scholarships that can be applied to directly. Details of all of these scholarships can be found by following the link below:

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