Petroleum Geoscience

Petroleum geoscience concerns the exploration, recovery, development and management of subsurface energy resources.

Petroleum geoscience

Our Petroleum Geoscience research is centered around: 

  • fundamental geological processes
  • the geophysical methodologies required to discover and produce hydrocarbon resources
  • development of fundamental technical and workflow advances. 

Some of our current areas of focus include:

  • structural geology and geomechanics
  • structural and stratigraphic-focused interpretation of 3D seismic data
  • basin analysis
  • contemporary and ancient reservoir analogues for continental, marginal marine and deep-water environments
  • shallow diagenetic processes
  • deep-water depositional processes’ bio-mediation
  • deep coal deposits’ geology and resource potential
  • carbon dioxide capture and storage in geological reservoirs
  • continental strata correlation and sequence stratigraphy
  • 4D geological modelling.

Our Petroleum Geoscience work is of particular value in relation to: 

  • petroleum exploration and development
  • carbon capture and storage
  • engineered geothermal systems
  • sedimentary basin-hosted mineral deposits
  • groundwater use and extraction
  • shallow and deep coal-seam gas production.
  • Research impact

    We are working to optimise and develop many aspects of the resources and environment sectors through our Petroleum Geoscience research. This includes:

    • identifying and predicting heterogeneities in shallow, marginal marine and deep-water reservoirs
    • constraining and understanding contemporary and ancient stress fields to aid well planning and reservoir management
    • predicting structural permeability beyond the wellbore
    • advancing sedimentology and stratigraphy understanding to improve characterisation of petroleum systems, and carbon capture and storage
    • improving rock-record sedimentary succession properties prediction
    • better understanding controls on processes shaping the Earth’s surface, such as climate, sea level and tectonics
    • understanding the impacts of volcanic activity on hydrocarbon exploration, and development in sedimentary basins.

    Our findings are frequently adopted and adapted by industry to produce competitive advantage through enhanced processes and cost-efficiency. For example, our work has:

    • underpinned and demonstrated carbon capture and storage (CCS) through the Otway research facility in south-western Victoria, one of the world’s best-characterised CCS sites
    • contributed to international multi-company consortia that have informed prediction of, and production from, reservoirs deposited in dryland and marginal marine environments
    • produced workflows for exploration in basins impacted by volcanic activity, which have been implemented in sedimentary basins worldwide
    • revealed the state of crustal stress across the Australian continent, aiding the development of unconventional geothermal and coal-based reservoirs
    • led to the identification of Great Australian Bight drilling sites, in collaboration with the International Ocean Discovery Program.
  • Consulting services

    Our petroleum geoscience researchers provide consulting services to companies and government agencies throughout the resources sector. We provide guidance, insight and project leadership in a wide range of petroleum exploration and production contexts, including large projects. Consultation can range from an individual staff member consulting on a day rate, to applied research conducted by multidisciplinary teams.

    We also offer continuing education for the upstream petroleum industry. Most of our courses are open to external participants, with fourth-year and postgraduate-level subjects taught in industry-friendly short-course formats. We can also develop new courses on request.

  • Our researchers

    We have expertise across a wide range of areas. Many of our researchers are available to assist with research project supervision for Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy students.

    Research team Expertise
    Professor Peter McCabe Unconventional coal and shale reservoirs; Sequence stratigraphy; Assessment of fossil fuel resources
    Professor John Kaldi Carbon capture and storage; Reservoir and seal evaluation; Development geology
    Dr Khalid Amrouch Structural geology; Tectonic evolution of sedimentary basins; Geomechanics and 4D stress characterisation
    Dr Mark Bunch Seismic geomeophology; Formation evaluation; Geological modelling
    Dr Ulrike Schact Environmental geochemistry; Reservoir quality (CO2 storage); Sandstone/sediment diagenesis
    Dr Carmine Wainman Sedimentology; Stratigraphy; Palynology
  • Collaborations

    We collaborate with various industry and government organisations, including: