Petroleum Geosciences > Trap, Top - and Fault Seal Analysis - Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT)

About this Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) 

Two recent comprehensive look-back studies concluded that the absence of Trap and/or Seal are the main causes for exploration wells to be dry. Clearly, Trap and Seal analysis is a very important part of prospect evaluation. Furthermore, in the large majority of cases, the Trap Volume uncertainty is the main factor controlling the uncertainty range of oil or gas volumes that may be discovered in a successful exploration well.

In this Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT), trap and seal analyses are discussed together as they are closely linked – after all, without a seal, there is no trap. Doing a good job in identifying valid potential traps requires creativity and resourcefulness in addition to an excellent understanding of what may constitute a trap and where potential spill- and leak-points may be. Otherwise, it is not possible to make meaningful predictions of the most likely column length and its uncertainty, and the HC volumes that may be present in an undrilled prospect. In mature basins and in basins with sub-optimal seismic data quality, where the more obvious traps have already been drilled, the search may be for alternative traps such as stratigraphic, deeper and/or basement traps.

Trap and seal analyses are discussed in this VILT from a pragmatic explorer’s point of view, based on the extensive experience of the instructor and on published case histories. Top seal and fault seal will both be addressed. The theoretical aspects of sealing that have been developed over the years will be explained, and traps and seals will be illustrated with a large variety of trap types from different basin settings.

Advice and practical guidelines will be given to help explorers in their day-to-day work.


Members of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia (PESA) are eligible for a special discount on the Australia sessions for this course. Please contact us at [email protected] for the promo code.

In this 5-day VILT, the main aspects that need to be considered for trap and seal analysis will be discussed, including:

  • Understanding and identifying spill- and potential leak-points of traps
  • Theoretical aspects of seals and sealing capacity
  • The effectiveness of Top and Fault seals
  • Methods to assess the sealing potential of seals
  • The calculation of Shale Gouge Ratio and Clay Smear as well as the construction of Allen (juxtaposition) plots which will be explained and illustrated with several exercises
  • Trap identification and analysis in a variety of extensional and in compressional settings
  • Analysis and risking of stratigraphic traps
  • Unusual traps such as basement traps
  • Sealing mechanisms and reasons of seal failure: permeability seals and hydraulic seals
  • Dealing with traps with multiple reservoir-seal pairs (in different basin settings)
  • Differential leakage of gas versus oil and its role on gas-oil mix in traps
  • How to treat trap and seal risks and uncertainty in a technically sound (and pragmatic) way in probabilistic risk and volume analysis tools; also for multiple reservoir-seal pair prospects

Examples of traps and sealing efficiency from around the world will be given throughout the various modules.


This VILT has been designed for exploration geoscientists working in prospect maturation roles; both geologists, seismic interpreters, and their supervisors and/or team leaders.

Learning, methods and tools

The VILT will be delivered online in 5 sessions of 3.5 hours per day, with 2 breaks of 10 minutes per day. It is the intention to have at least 2 smaller exercises per day and a larger exercise as ‘home assignment’ which should be worked on after the VILT and before the start of the next VILT. Time will be reserved for recapitulation, questions and discussions.

VILT will be conducted either via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Presenting materials can easily be done on this platform. When participants need to ask a question, they can raise their hand, write notes or interrupt the Instructor by using their microphone. The presenter can switch to a screen where he/she can see all participants (also when each participant is sitting in another location e.g. at home). There is also a whiteboard functionality that can be used as one would use a flip chart. Exercises will be done on an online platform which provides each participant with a private work area that can be accessed by the Instructor to discuss the exercise in a similar manner as in a classroom course.

Exercises are focused on understanding how traps and seals should be assessed in a practical manner as a sound basis for realistic risk and volume assessments for prospects. At the end of the VILT, participants will understand the critical elements of hydrocarbon traps and how they affect the trap risk and volume of trapped hydrocarbons. This should enable participants to focus on realistic traps and in technically sound and realistic pre-drill estimates of prospect volumes. It should also result in a more focused search for alternative trap types (deeper, stratigraphic and unusual) in mature basins.

Each topic is introduced by a lecture, and learning is re-enforced by practical exercises and discussions. Hand-out material in electronic format will be provided.

Dr. Jan de Jager has a PhD in Geology from the University of Utrecht. He joined Shell in 1979 as an exploration geologist, and worked in several locations around the world such as Netherlands, Gabon, USA, Australia, Argentina, and Malaysia in technical and management positions. During the last 10 years of his career, he was responsible for the quality assurance of Shell’s exploration prospects in many parts of the world and for upgrading and replenishing Shell’s global exploration portfolio. During this period, he had also developed extensive expertise in Prospect Risk and Volume assessments for which he ran successful internal training programmes. Following his retirement from Shell in 2010, Dr Jan de Jager took on a position as part-time professor at the University of Amsterdam and also serves as a consultant exploration advisor for various E&P companies.

To further optimise your learning experience from our courses, we also offer individualized “One to One” coaching support for 2 hours post training. We can help improve your competence in your chosen area of interest, based on your learning needs and available hours. This is a great opportunity to improve your capability and confidence in a particular area of expertise. It will be delivered over a secure video conference call by one of our senior trainers. They will work with you to create a tailor-made coaching program that will help you achieve your goals faster.
Request for further information about post training coaching support and fees applicable for this.

Learn what past participants have said about EnergyEdge training courses

The course was conducted in a lively manner with the subject matter experienced instructor. His presentation style and materials were greatly constructed to provide easy understanding on the topic discusses and how it relates to my day-to-day work especially in prospect maturation and resource & risk assessment.

Executive (Geoscience), PETRONAS

It’s a good training and conducted in a good platform (to accommodate the pandemic situation).

Geologist, PETRONAS

I've attended several trainings by this particular trainer and they have always been a pleasant learning experience. His vast knowledge coupled with structured teaching and effective communication helped me build strong fundamentals and confidence in all the subjects he teaches.

Geoscientist, PETRONAS

The trainer is always ready to share his experience and knowledge on the topic, one of the best in the industry.

Reservoir Geologist, PETRONAS

Excellent content and presentation. Gave me a new perspective on prospect maturation.

Geophysicist, PETRONAS

I gained good fundamental knowledge on trap & seal analysis that is really applicable to my current work scope.

Geoscientist, PETRONAS

A great course to attend. Full of information and related examples.

Geologist, ROC Oil (Sarawak)

Beneficial to geologists who works in prospect maturation.

Geoscientists, PETRONAS Carigali

Good course with a lot of examples/case studies presented and also new insights on the trap and sealing mechanisms in different basin settings.

Geologist, Petroleum Brunei

Excellent course with vast experience from the training leader. Broad knowledge!

Geophysicist, Brunei National Petroleum Company

Excellent instructor. Course material makes assessment for trap and seal more meaningful.

Geoscientist, Petronas

The trainer gives very clear explanation and an excellent presentation. A very vibrant teacher.

Geologist, ROC Oil (Sarawak)

The trainer impresses yet again. Great instructor, highly enthusiastic, and keeps things interesting.

Geoscientist, PETRONAS Carigali

Great real-life examples providing me with new prospect ideas.

Staff Geologist, Beach Energy

Excellent course! The working exercises help us in the practical application.

Geophysicist, Bridgeport Energy