Thursday, 5 October 2017

A Fly on the Wall at the Summer School

Between the 2nd and 7th of July 2017, students, academics and industry professionals flocked to the University of Leicester for the 2nd Petrophysics Summer School in order to learn more about the fundamentals and applications of petrophysics. The cohort of participants, which numbered 30, had travelled from 27 institutions, and represented a plethora of nationalities and cultures, but had come together centred on the common interest in petrophysics. To lead this summer school, 19 tutors had been brought in from 10 organisations, including the European Petrophysics Consortium (EPC), ALS Petrophysics, BP, Imperial College London, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) and Schlumberger. Amongst these tutors were the University of Leicester’s very own Sarah Davies, Erwan Le Ber, Laurence Phillpot, Tim Pritchard and, the organiser of the summer school, Sally Morgan. The summer school itself was sponsored, with generosity, by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD), the London Petrophysical Society (LPS), Aberdeen Formation Evaluation Society (AFES) and the UK International Ocean Discovery Program (UK IODP). Kind contributions to the school were also given by the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Weatherford, and over half of the participants received financial support to facilitate their attendance from IODP entities: the United States Science Support Program, ECORD, and UK IODP, with the goal of training the next generation of scientists.
Day 0: Saturday evening saw the programme kick off with an ice-breaker party in the King Richard III Visitor Centre in the heart of Leicester. Here the participants were greeted with a gift bag containing a range of goodies as well as their work folders for the week. After being taken to the King’s Hall, the participants were free to mingle and ‘break the ice’ in the informal setting where refreshments eased some of the awkward tension. Both guided and unguided tours of the centre ensued and people could see the most famous parking spot in the UK – the grave site of Richard III.
Day 1: Sunday was a day of laying the foundation of the participants’ understanding of scientific ocean research drilling and offshore operations. Lectures were given throughout the day, interspersed with regular refuelling breaks, where coffee and biscuits were among the offerings, and a large spread was put on for lunch. The regular breaks also gave the participants a chance to view one another’s research posters. Prior to a mini conference, Leicester’s Tim Pritchard gave a thought-provoking talk on the future of petrophysics in which participants were encouraged to imagine the possibilities from a multi-disciplinary standpoint. The mini conference gave participants a chance to introduce themselves via 2-minute elevator-style talks, and to present their research via poster presentations. This really displayed the diversity of backgrounds that people had come from, with research presented covering a vast range of topics (the effects of microbes in CCS to a sedimentological study of the Mercia Mudstone Group in Ireland), using a huge range of analytical methods (including, GPR, XRD and P- and S-wave measurement) and being applied to numerous geological situations. This thirsty work was compensated for by a wine reception during the final poster session. The end of the day heralded a chance for the participants to explore the new, and to some, very unusual and unfamiliar city. A large group travelled over to the Old Horse pub (a favourite drinking establishment of the Leicester Geology Department) and then to a local curry house on Queens Road to sample the curries that Leicester is so famous for.
Day 2: Strong coffee was available for the early start. Prior to lunch were the rigorous lectures of petrophysics 101 delivered by Imperial College’s Pete Fitch, giving the participants a solid grounding in the fundamentals of the subject. Lunch was followed by a session on core processing workflows by Ingrid Paola Tello Guerrero of ALS Petrophysics, from the well site to laboratory reports. BP’s Sam Matthews rounded off the afternoon with an interactive session on estimating hydrocarbons in place, allowing the participants to put what they had learned into perspective and understand the real-world application. In the evening an optional lecture was given by Rebecca Bell (Imperial College London) about the science behind a couple of upcoming IODP expeditions (372 and 375) that will be exploring the Hikurangi subduction margin. Such optional evening lectures are a long-standing tradition at Leicester and the summer schoolers followed the Leicester evening lecture format by continuing discussions about the talk (and the day’s activities more generally) at the pub.

Participants completing a log response exercise during a morning session. (Credit, Erwan Le Ber).

Day 3: On Tuesday, participants took a break from the University-based classroom work and went on an excursion. The morning was spent with Weatherford at their Reeves Wireline Technologies facility in East Leake, where participants could see the origins, research and development, and use of some downhole logging equipment in a state-of-the-art facility. Following this, participants were travelled to the BGS in Keyworth where they enjoyed a packed lunch to tie them over for their visit to the BGS Core Store. This visit was guided by University of Leicester’s Sarah Davies, who had prepared a logging exercise that allowed the participants, to get up close and personal with the core, comparing the lithological packages (from a range of environments, both subaerial and subaqueous) with petrophysical log responses. Participants appeared to be very impressed with the sheer volume of core stored at Keyworth and were also somewhat captivated by a topographic sandbox also at the facility. Many attendees purchased souvenir specimens from fantastic on-site BGS shop. During the evening everyone got into the 4th of July spirit with an American-inspired meal and drinks at Meatcure in the centre of Leicester, an ideal period of down time after a day of such intense study.

Prof. Sarah Davies giving a tutorial to participants, comparing lithologies to log responses at the BGS’s Keyworth core storage facility (Credit, Erwan Le Ber).

Day 4: The field-trip and evening of the previous day had given participants a renewed vigour and people were ready to press on with the work. Wednesday saw their initial introduction to Schlumberger’s Techlog. After a shaky start due to some minor issues with loading data into the software, participants worked through a series of exercises, designed to familiarise them with the interface and Techlog’s capability. The day provided essential groundwork for more complex case studies in the following days. Another bonus evening lecture rounded off the day, this time given by Leicester’s own Mike Lovell entitled ‘Petrophysics in the Kitchen’. Armed with beers the group were treated to a lecture about the everyday uses of petrophysical principles including audience participation involving glasses of milk and chocolate bars.

Participants getting hands-on experience with Schlumberger's Techlog (Credit, Erwan Le Ber)

Day 5: Over the course of Thursday, participants were given further training in Techlog through several extended sessions including exercises on acoustics and borehole images, and core-log-seismic integration from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s Gilles Guerin and Angela Slagle, respectively. As had become typical during the summer school, sessions were punctuated by regular and well deserved coffee breaks. Despite the demanding day of work, everyone made it to New Walk Museum for drinks and an informal tour around the museum’s Geology wing given by Tom Harvey, a paleobiologist and lecturer at Leicester University.

Group Photo Op at New Walk Museum, the ‘Rutland Dinosaur’ making up the backdrop (Credit, Erwan Le Ber)

The Leicester-themed evening continued with a three course meal and drinks at a local curry house generously sponsored by UK IODP. Towards the end of the meal, prizes and acceptance speeches were given to and from those who won the poster and elevator pitch popular votes and the more formally adjudicated poster competition. Dessert rounded off a pleasant evening, and the group slowly turned in for the night in preparation for the final day of petrophysics training.

Dr. Sally Morgan, organiser of the summer school, handing out awards for popular voted elevator pitches and posters as well as the adjudicated poster competition (Credit, Erwan Le Ber)

Day 6: Friday morning gave the group a chance to put their Techlog training to the test, with IODP and shale gas industry case studies. Participants had found the training to be very useful discovering that the software was user-friendly once they understood how to navigate the interface. After lunch there was a free session in which participants could get some unconstrained leisurely use of the software and review any of the things covered in the course to that point. The final session of the summer school was given by Erwan Le Ber and taught participants how to design their own logging plan using IODP Expedition 364, Chicxulub K-Pg impact crater as a case study. The week and the summer school were brought to close by a final thanks and farewell by Sally Morgan, the organiser of the summer school, in which participants received their certificates, including acknowledgement of them having completed 36 hours of CPD-accredited training.

 Joshua Smiles

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