Nicholas Harris

Professor, Faculty of Science - Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Admin

Contact

Professor, Faculty of Science - Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Admin
Email
nharris@ualberta.ca
Phone
(780) 492-0356
Address
2-04B Earth Sciences Building
11223 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2E3

Overview

About
I have had a long-standing interest in the origin of black shales and have had major projects on the Cretaceous lacustrine organic-rich shales of the west African rift basins, the Upper Devonian Woodford Shale in the Permian Basin, west Texas and Upper Devonian shales in western Canada. The lacustrine shale study in Africa identified a novel relationship between evolving topography associated with rifting, climate and the deposition of organic matter in shales. In my Woodford project (ongoing), my students and I are seeking to identify the signatures of sea-level cycles in basinal shales, by applying sedimentological and geochemical methods.




Research
Expertise
  • Sedimentology and sedimentary geochemistry
  • Petroleum geology
  • Hydrocarbon Source Rocks
  • Tight gas sand reservoirs
Research Interests

I work in the areas of sedimentology and sedimentary geochemistry, and my research generally takes a multidisciplinary approach.

I have had a long-standing interest in the origin of black shales and have had major projects on the Cretaceous lacustrine organic-rich shales of the west African rift basins and the Upper Devonian Woodford Shale in the Permian Basin, west Texas. The lacustrine shale study in Africa identified a novel relationship between evolving topography associated with rifting, climate and the deposition of organic matter in shales. In my Woodford project (ongoing), my students and I are seeking to identify the signatures of sea-level cycles in basinal shales, by applying sedimentological and geochemical methods. I am also interested in the diagenetic alteration of clastic rocks, including sandstone reservoirs and have conducted studies of the Frio Formation in the Gulf of Mexico and Jurassic sandstones including the Brent in northwest Europe, and I have advised students in studies of tight gas sandstone reservoirs in Colorado and Wyoming. These studies integrate petrography (SEM, thin section analysis and X-ray diffraction) with geochemical analysis (whole rock and isotopes) to understand how geochemical components move in the subsurface.  I have worked on the application of gas geochemistry to understand gas migration processes in large tight gas sand reservoirs. I have a large projected funded by RPSEA to apply gas compositions in three tight gas fields in the Rocky Mountains.


Since 2012, I have carried out studies of unconventional oil and gas reservoirs in western Canada, including the Devonian Horn River and Duvernay shale formations and the Triassic Montney Formation. Our approach is to integrate sedimentology, stratigraphy and rock composition to predict petrophysical and geomechanical properties. We use core and well log data to develop 3D reservoir models. Our research is published in major journals (AAPG Bulletin, Marine and Petroleum Geology, Sedimentary Geology, International Journal of Coal Geology, etc.).


My group also studies the geology of 'green' energy sources, including geothermal reservoirs and salt formations for compressed air energy storage (CAES). We are currently studying two oil and gas carbonate reservoirs to model the production of hot water for electricity production and direct use.


Teaching

I direct the program in Integrated Petroleum Geosciences (IPG), a course-based one-year MSc degree program that provides advanced training for students preparing to enter the oil and gas industry. Students in the program have gone on to careers in the petroleum industry in Canada, China and southeast Asia, Pakistan and Nigeria. Students have also joined companies in the mining industry and in geotechnical engineering.


I teach two courses in the IPG program: Hydrocarbon Reservoir Characterization and Basin Analysis (Petroleum Systems). Both courses emphasize developing an understanding of geological principles and processes and applying that understanding to real data sets. 

Courses

IPG 514 - Petroleum Basin Analysis

Classification and evolution of sedimentary basins; tectonics and sedimentation; methods of sedimentary basin analysis; basin forming mechanisms: classification of basins in a plate-tectonic context; discussion of individual basin types: controls on accommodation and stratigraphic architecture; evaluation of burial and thermal history of sedimentary basins; migration and entrapment in sedimentary basins; exploration applications of basin modeling. [Faculty of Science]

Winter Term 2021
IPG 518 - Hydrocarbon Reservoir Analysis

An analysis of the fundamental geological factors that determine the economic success of producing hydrocarbons from a reservoir: porosity, permeability, compartmentalization by depositional environment and tectonics, and reservoir conditions requiring special drilling and completion techniques. The methods appropriate to appraise a reservoir are reviewed, with an emphasis on placing the factors in the framework of risk analysis. [Faculty of Science]

Fall Term 2020
IPG 610 - Seminar and Field Trips

May take place all in one week. Series of seminars covering topics such as risk analysis, resource law, resource economics, land issues, environmental impact, government programs, equity markets and their regulation, reserve estimation, downstream petroleum industry, world energy supply and demand, nonconventional hydrocarbon sources. Field trips may include local Alberta geology, visits to drill rigs, enhanced oil recovery operations, and the archival core storage facilities. Attendance is mandatory. The course will be graded on a credit /no credit system. This course may require the payment of additional fees. [Faculty of Science]

Winter Term 2021