Module code: ENGM217

Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to the theory and practice associated with the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas covering subsurface and topside operations.

Module provider

Chemical and Process Engineering

Module Leader

HOLMES Philip (Chm Proc Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 117

Lecture Hours: 33

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Planet Earth: Big bang creation of the Universe and accretion of Planet Earth.

Geology: Planet Earth - the rock cycle, geological time and how to identify different types of rocks.

Fossil Fuels: Origin of life and formation of hydrocarbons.

Properties of Hydrocarbons: Physical and chemical properties of crude oil and natural gas; conventional and unconventional reserves; renewable fuels.

Safety and Operations Integrity: UK Law on Health and Safety; Piper Alpha Incident; Safety Case.

Exploration: The reservoir; surveying, data processing and interpretation; topsides facilities, subsurface drilling and operations; well appraisal and development.


Offshore – Operating environment; subsurface facilities (wellhead); topsides facilities (rigs) for oil and gas.

Onshore – Conventional production and unconventional production (heavy oil deposits, hydraulic fracturing of shale, recovery from bitumen sands).

Processing: Oil, water, sand and gas separators; crude oil (dewatering); natural gas (acid gas removal, hydrates and dehydration, hydrocarbon dew point processes, compression); desalting; produced water disposal; enhanced oil and gas recovery.

Transport and Storage:

Flow assurance.

Pipelines; two phase flow; pigging; protection; pumping and compression equipment; oil and gas storage.

Natural Gas: Introduction to LNG, LNG liquefaction, storage, shipping, terminals; GTL processes.

Crude Oil: Introduction to refining; crude oil vs. shale oil extracted by hydraulic fracturing vs. bitumen extracted from oil sands.

Abandonment: End of life, decommissioning and disposal of facilities.

Politics, Economics and Sustainability: Global reserves and location; supply and demand; price of crude oil; environmental concerns and sustainability; outlook for energy.



Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination 2 HOUR CLOSED BOOK EXAM 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate the full range of learning outcomes though examination and a significant individual piece of coursework.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Examination – 70%, 2 hrs (LO1 – LO9)

  • Coursework – 30% (LO2, LO6 – LO9)

Formative assessment

  • None


In class, there is an introductory briefing followed by intermediate discussion of progress with extensive oral feedback and discussion after submission. Individual marks are notified to the students by e-mail a short time later.

Module aims

  • The aim of this module is to provide the students with knowledge and skills relating to Earth’s geology, the formation of hydrocarbons, and the facilities and operations required for the exploration, development, production and transport of crude oil and natural gas to initial processing.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Appreciate how the Universe and Planet Earth were created and fossil fuels were formed from early biotic material. K
002 Value Earth’s fossil fuel reserves as a finite resource of economic importance with environmental concerns (sustainability). KCT
003 Identify the types of rocks associated with hydrocarbon reservoirs. Appreciate the importance of safe design and operation and use techniques to minimise the risk of an incident associated with upstream operations. KCPT
004 Relate the chemistry and properties of the different sources of hydrocarbon fuels to their overall value. KC
005 Explain and discuss how surveys are performed to identify possible reservoirs of oil and gas. Engage in meaningful discussions with industry professionals about the design and drilling of a well for exploratory, appraisal and production purposes. Select the most suitable types of facilities for offshore production and transport to initial processing. Apply methods of the conceptual design of important separation processes to oil and gas production. KCP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Cover in lectures the necessary fundamental knowledge and analysis of upstream operations in the oil and gas sector.

  • Allow student to consolidate and apply understanding through guided work sessions and associated coursework.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Combined lectures and guided work sessions 3 hours per week for 11 weeks

Independent learning 117 hours in total

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENGM217

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Petroleum Refining Systems Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Process Systems Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Chemical Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Renewable Energy Systems Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Chemical and Petroleum Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.