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Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Petroleum Geochemistry and Microbiology

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Geosciences

DESCRIPTION - Origin of petroleum, abiogenic & biogenic sources;
- Composition of petroleum, types of oils and their characteristics;
- Kerogen - analysis, maturity and type;
- Diagenesis, catagenesis and metagenesis;
- Principal zone of oil generation, thermal history, vitrinite reflectance;
- Rock-Eval maturity parameters;
- Basin modelling;
- Biogenic and thermogenic gas;
- Isotopic characteristics of main gas types;
- Microbiology & petroleum nutrient;
- Conversion of petroleum hydrocarbons into microbial products;
- Sampling, detection and analysis;
- Geochemical & microbiological surveys.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to provide the knowledge of the chemical and microbial processes that lead to the alteration of organic matter in rocks and the generation and degradation of petroleum in order to develop an understanding of basin modelling and maturity evaluation needed to assess basins for their petroleum type and potential. The unit also provides knowledge of the of how these chemical and microbial products can be used in the exploration for petroleum.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to understand the basic chemistry of petroleum generation, types, the roles played by temperature and basin history on such generation, the nutrition value of petroleum to bacteria and the use of such chemical and microbiological analysis of the ground to search for accumulations of petroleum.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Conceive and formulate petroleum geochemical and microbiological hypotheses;
- Plan geochemical and microbiological evaluation programmes and surveys;
- Select and use appropriate geochemical/microbiological techniques and procedures in a variety of situations;
- Research and synthesise geochemical/microbial information from various sources;
- Analyse, evaluate, interpret and integrate chemical and microbial data in basin modelling and maturity evaluation to determine petroleum type and potential;
- Interpret geochemical/microbiological surveys of an area for its petroleum potential.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Tissot, B.P. and Welte, D.H. (1984) Petroleum Formation and Occurrence, Springer - Verlag.
- J M Hunt (1995) Petroleum Geochemistry and Geology, W H Freeman and Co Ltd.
- B Ollivier, M Madot (2005) Petroleum Microbiology, ASM Press.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Qualifications: Honours degree, 2nd upper or above, in Science, Engineering or a related discipline

Co-requisite Study-units: GSC5200, GSC5205


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 20%
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 80%

LECTURER/S Alfred J. Vella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
MSc (Research) and PhD application deadlines
Application Deadlines for Academic Year 2017/18 
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