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Durham University

Research & business

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Professor Richard Swarbrick

Honorary Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences

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Richard Swarbrick started his geological education at University of Durham in 1973, and went on to Cambridge to complete a PhD in sedimentology/tectonics. His career as a petroleum geologist started in 1979, where he worked in both exploration and production in London, then in the Alaska Division, based in Dallas, before returning to the UK as exploration supervisor including responsibility for New Ventures in the 11th UK Licencing Round.

In 1989 Richard left London and industry to teach petroleum geology and related courses back at University of Durham. Between 1994 and 2001, he was the founder and principal investigator of GeoPOP (GEOsciences Project into OverPressure), a multi-disciplinary research group funded by 17 oil/gas companies. The research led to many publications related to overpressure mechanisms, modelling pressure in basins, and the influence of overpressure on the petroleum system.

In 1997 Richard founded the niche University spin-out company, GeoPressure Technology, to commercialise research software, and later offering training courses, consultancy and multi-client pressure studies. GeoPressure Technology became part of the Ikon Science Group in 2006, where Richard stayed until 2013. Richard has taught introductory to advanced professional development courses in most of the oil centres around the world. He has consulted widely on pore pressure and fracture pressure prediction, seal capacity and hydrocarbon column height, and lateral drainage with its implications for hydrodynamic trapping. He is now an independent consultant and trainer, based in Durham.

Richard continues to present conference papers and publish articles relating to these topics, with research based at University of Durham where he holds an Honorary Professorship and does some teaching. He is also Chairman of the Advisory Board to the Department of Earth Sciences in Durham, a Fellow of Geological Society of London, and long-standing member of both AAPG and PESGB.