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Durham University

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Mr Thomas Utley, MGeo

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PhD Student in the Department of Earth Sciences

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2015-Present: PhD Structural Geology, Durham University

2014-2015: Research Assistant (Brent Diagenesis and Petrography Project), Liverpool University

2013/2015: Surveyor and Geophysicist, LandScope Engineering

2009-2013: M.Geoscience in Geology with Physical Geography, Keele University

PhD Funding

NERC Oil and Gas CDT, 2015

Support from the Clair Joint Venture Group

PhD Project

A reservoir-scale structural reappraisal of onshore Devonian analogues of the Clair Group in the Fair Isle-Shetland region

Supervised by Professor Bob Holdsworth and Ken McCaffrey (Durham University), Andy Conway (ConocoPhillips, Aberdeen) and Richard Jones (GRL, Durham)

The Clair field, situated to the west of Shetland, represents the largest hydrocarbon resource in the UKCS and is comprised of fractured Devonian sandstones that overlie an up-faulted ridge of fractured Precambrian metamorphic basement. The onshore, broadly extensional Orcadian basement has long been used as an analogue for the Clair field. During development of the field, especially with the development of the Clair Ridge, increasing complexity in both the sub-surface structure and basement cover relationships suggest that strike slip tectonics may have played a role in the evolution of Clair during the Devonian period.

The project will reappraise the stratigraphy, structure and tectonic evolution of an alternative onshore analogue to Clair, using the Fair Isle-Shetland-Foula region as an analogue for looking at the role of Palaeozoic tectonics on basin development and later Mesozoic reactivation. This will be achieved through detailed studies of exposed basement-cover contacts and the structure of the overlying sandstone-dominated sequences exposed in large coastal sections. Fieldwork will be supplemented by the use of photogrammetry and terrestrial LiDAR to capture the geology of key localities. 3D models of the stratigraphy and structure will be created for use in numerical simulations of fluid flow, up-scaling and reservoir quality studies. The findings will be compared and applied to the current information and models which concern the stratigraphic and structural architecture of the Clair field and its regional tectonic setting.



January 2016: The Structural Geology of Foula, Shetland: an onshore analogue for the top of the Clair Ridge, West of Shetland. Utley et al. Joint Assembly 2017, Liverpool.

November 2016: Brent Group Petrography and Diagenesis: Implications for Reservoir Quality and Enhanced Oil Recovery. Utley and Worden. PETEX, 2016.

May 2015: Summary presentation to industry partners of the Brent Diagenesis and Petrography Project

January 2015: Presentation to industry partners of the Brent Diagenesis and Petrography Project

October 2014: Presentation to industry partners of the Brent Diagenesis and Petrography Project


A reservoir-scale structural reappraisal of onshore Devonian analogues of the Clair Group in the Fair Isle-Shetland Region. Utley et al. PETEX. November 2016.

Middle Jurassic Brent Group clay mineralogy and petrography: basin-scale review to guide enhanced oil recovery. R.H. Worden and T. Utley.  Clay Minerals Group Research in Progress Meeting. September 2016.

Field Experience

Summer 2014: Nisyros, Greece. Working with Dr H.Kinvig (Liverpool University) as part of a team investigating and monitoring heightened volcano-seismic activity. Deployment of siesmometers and GPS monitoring stations, terrestrial laser scanning of structures, and recording of pH and temperature of volcanic features.

August 2011: Iceland. Assisting a PhD student in the collection of groundwater/soil samples, piezometer installation and collection of hydrogeological and sedimentological data.

2010-2011: Keele University. Assisting Dr Jamie Pringle (Keele University) with GPR and resistivity surveys as part of a long term geophysical research project of simulated clandestine burials of murder victims.

Research Groups

Department of Earth Sciences

Research Interests

  • Photogrammetry
  • Structural Geology
  • 3D Modelling and Visualisation
  • Reservoir Quality
  • Petroleum Geology
  • GIS and Remote Sensing