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Pre-reading tasks

a) scan the text and answer the questions

- What are the main geologists’ tasks?

- What is the difference between oceanic and continental crust?

- What causes the volcanoes and earthquakes in the Pacific Ocean?

- What are three basic structures that occur when rocks de­form?

- What causes rocks to break?

- Why are anticlines and synclines important to petroleum geologists?

- What is a graben?

- When did simple living organisms appear?

- When did comlex organisms appear?

- What are the main geologic eras?

b) skim the text and define the classification of geological structure of the Earth


Geology is the science that deals with the origin, history, and physical structure of the earth and its life, as recorded in rocks. It is a science essential to the petroleum industry because most petroleum is found within rocks far underground. Anyone interested in the petroleum industry needs to be familiar with the basic principles of geology.

Geologists try to answer such questions as how old the earth is, where it came from, and what it is made of. To do this, they study the evidence of events that occurred millions of years ago, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and drifting continents, and then relate these to the results of similar events happening today. For example, they try to discover where ancient oceans and mountain ranges were, and they trace the evolution of life through fos­sils. They also study the composition of the rocks in the earth's crust. In the course of their investigations, geologists rely on the knowledge derived from many other sciences, such as astronomy, chemistry, physics, and biology.

The petroleum geologist is concerned with rocks that contain oil and gas, particularly rocks that contain enough petroleum to be commercially valu­able. The company that drills for oil wants a reasonable chance of making a profit on its eventual sale, considering the market price of oil and gas, the amount of recoverable petroleum, the expected production rate, and the cost of drilling and producing the well. So petroleum geologists have two jobs: first, they reconstruct the geologic history of an area to find likely locations for petroleum accumulations; then, when they find one of these locations, they evaluate it to determine whether it has enough petroleum to be commercially productive.

Before we go on, it is important to clear up a common misunderstand­ing about what an oil reservoir is. Many people think that a reservoir is a large, subterranean cave filled with oil or a buried river flowing with pure crude from bank to bank. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yet it is easy to understand how such notions come about. Even experienced oil­field workers often refer to a reservoir as an oil pool. And since many cities store their drinking water in ponds or lakes called reservoirs, this term adds to the confusion. In reality, a petroleum reservoir is a rock formation that holds oil and gas, somewhat like a sponge holds water.

And how big is a reservoir? In the oil business, a reservoir's size is determined by the amount of oil and gas it contains. Physically, however, a large reservoir may be broad and shallow, narrow and deep, or some shape in between. The East Texas field covers thousands of acres or hectares but is only 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 metres) thick. On the other hand, the Gronigen field in Holland extends over only about 5 acres (2 hectares) but is some 85 feet (26 metres) thick.


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