AG-834 Arctic Basins and Petroleum Provinces (10 ECTS)






October 15, 2023


Spring semester (April–May). Next course in 2024.

AG-334/834 fieldwork. Photo: Snorre Olaussen/UNIS.

Grade:Letter grade (A through F)
Course Cost:Fieldwork; NOK 800 (4 nights x NOK 200 per night)
Course Capacity Min/Max:5/25 students (AG-334/834 in total)
Language of instruction:English
Examination support material:Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue

Course requirements

Enrolment in a PhD programme in geology or solid earth geophysics.

Academic content

The exposed strata and basins in Svalbard will enable the students to aquire advanced knowledge on petroleum provinces in the Arctic. Excellent outcrops of Upper Palaeozoic and Mesozoic basin fill will be used to illustrate the main principles of source, reservoir and traps within a hydrocarbon play.

After introduction to petroleum geology, students will be introduced to the geological evolution and regional geology of the main Mesozoic and Cenozoic petroleum provinces within the Arctic. An updated introduction to Arctic plate tectonics and evolution will also be provided. Based on regional seismic reflection lines, well data and onshore field analogs the students will be able to construct the major T/R cycles (first- and second-order sequences) and their related depositional sequences. Case-studies from the major Arctic oil and gas producing fields on the Norwegian Continental Shelf will be used in applied methodology exercises for calculation of hydrocarbon reserves. This will be combined with an introduction to the exploration history of the various basins, providing: the exploration process of oil and gas from a regional perspective; use of geophysical and geological data; knowledge, visions and ideas of source, reservoir and trap leading through an initial definition of a play, then to leads and finally to risked prospects in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea.

Mesozoic and Cenozoic outcropping strata on Spitsbergen will be used to demonstrate successful hydrocarbon play-models to producing oil- and gas-fields. The link between onshore and offshore geology will be focused. This link will be used to demonstrate the exploration process from the use of data and G&G knowledge to generation of play concepts, leads and prospects.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, the students will:


Comprehensive understanding of Arctic Basins and their development, using subsurface data from Barents Sea and exposed onshore strata from Svalbard. Insight into the exploration process and large scale regional overview of the Upper Palaeozoic to Neogene. Acquired a basic understanding of how to use modern research methods for development play concepts and resource estimation.


Skills in using geological observation and available data for interpretation of the basins. Training in the ability to combine theory with logging of outcrop and core data to evaluate resource potential. Ability to analyse and evaluate data to fit theories. Hands on experience of the workflow on modern works stations in the industry, combining data from wire line logs, core data and onshore/offshore seismic.

General competences

Ability to search for needed knowledge to critical evaluate the scientific reliability of available collected data and show the importance of specific data sets. Learned how to critically analyse old and new knowledge, and to apply this for solving scientific problems.

Learning activities

The course extends over 5 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AG-334.

The PhD students will receive a pre-course assignment based on one or more scientific papers that they will present during the course as a lecture or a seminar.

The course will have a theoretical part with lectures and seminars, and a practical part with excursions and fieldwork. The practical part will emphasize geological fieldwork as logging of outcrop and core data. There will be field excursions to the classical Festningen profile, Isfjorden, which covers Upper Carboniferous to base Paleocene. The logging section will include both reservoir and source. The fieldwork and excursions may be subject to changes, depending upon the weather conditions.


  • Total lecture hours: 28 hours.
  • Seminar hours: 32 hours.
  • Fieldwork: 7 days.

Compulsory learning activities

All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.

  • Fieldwork
  • Exercises


  • All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.
  • Only the final grade will be reported, based on an average of the grades from the examination parts.
Percentage of final grade
Pre-course assignment 20%
Written report 30%
Written exam3 hours50%

Student life

AG-334/834 fieldwork. Photo: Snorre Olaussen/UNIS.
AG-334/834 fieldwork. Photo: Snorre Olaussen/UNIS.