Norman Falcon Award

Best Paper Award
The Norman Falcon Award is presented to the author(s) of the best paper published in Petroleum Geoscience in the calendar year preceding the award. The paper should be of high scientific standard and should represent a significant contribution to one or more of the disciplines in our Association.


The Norman Falcon Award 2020 was presented to:

Quinten Boersma

and co-author Rahul Prabhakaran, Francisco Hilario Bezerra and Giovanni Bertotti
For their paper "Linking natural fractures to karst cave development: a case study combining drone imagery, a natural cave network and numerical modelling", published in Petroleum Geoscience, Vol 25, April 2019.

Past Winners of the Norman Falcon Award

The Falcon Award was originally established in 1993 (and continued till 2002) as the Best Poster Award of the Petroleum Division. The Best Paper Award of the Petroleum Division (1999-2002) was called Petroleum Geoscience Award.

2019  Simon A. Stewart 

For his paper ´Hormuz salt distribution and influence on structural style in Northeast Saudi Arabia´, published in Petroleum Geoscience, Vol 24, No 2, May 2018.
This study uses previously unpublished reflection seismic data and wells to map part of the western margin of the Hormuz salt basin for the first time. It links Hormuz facies distribution to the evolution of major structures in NE Saudi Arabia. Most of these major structures host giant or supergiant oil fields in Mesozoic reservoirs. This study is based on seismic interpretation of structural style because the Hormuz occurs at up to 10 km or more depth and much deeper than the limit of drilled wells over the study area. The main result is a significant refinement of previous regional maps of Hormuz Group distribution. The paper is well written, potentially of wide interest, and could be set as recommended or essential reading in coursework. It is, ‘the kind of paper you would love to see in a text book on the topic and to use in courses for students and professionals.’

2018 Erick Alvarez 

And co-authors Colin MacBeth and Jonathan Brain
For their paper ‘Quantifying remaining oil saturation using time-lapse seismic amplitude changes at fluid contacts,’ published in Petroleum Geoscience, Volume 23, issue 2, May 2017, pp. 238 – 250.

Evaluation of the saturation of the oil left behind in a hydrocarbon reservoir after some oil is displaced by water in production is vital for planning secondary and enhanced oil recovery strategies. In this excellent paper Alvarez and his co-authors show that time-lapse changes in the amplitude of the seismic reflection at an oil-water contact (OWC) can be used to estimate directly the displacement efficiency of water displacing oil, without the need for a rock and fluid physics model. A prerequisite for the proposed approach is that a discrete OWC be interpreted on either the 3D or 4D seismic data sets. The potential of this practical method is successfully established on both synthetic and real data examples. 
2017  Marco Roveri  And co-authors R. Gennari, S. Lugli, V. Manzi, N. Minelli, M. Reghizzi, A. Riva, M. E. Rossi and B. C. Schreiber
For their paper ´The Messinian salinity crisis: open problems and possible implications for Mediterranean petroleum systems´, published in Petroleum Geoscience, volume 22, issue 4, November 2016, pp. 283-290.
Marco Roveri and co-authors review the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC) and discuss unsolved problems and possible implications for Mediterranean petroleum systems. The paper explains and then challenges the accepted paradigm of a ‘shallow-water deep-basin’ model, which implies high-amplitude oscillations (greater than 1500 m) in the Mediterranean sea-level up to the point of its desiccation. By combining chronostratigraphic observations with global sea level curves and solar insolation data, the authors show that an alternative, deep-water, non-desiccated scenario of the MSC is not only possible but, in fact, a more credible model. This in turn has strong implications for the assessment of petroleum systems in the Mediterranean and adjoining areas (e.g. the Black Sea Basin), which are developed by the authors as an improved petroleum systems model for Messinian source rocks and hydrocarbon accumulations.
2016  Alex M.P. Cicchino  And co-authors Colin Sargent, Neil R. Goulty and Agus M. Ramdhan
For their paper ´Regional variation in Cretaceous mudstone compaction trends across Haltenbanken, offshore mid-Norway', published in Petroleum Geoscience, volume 21, issue 1, February 2015, pp. 17–34.
Sediment compaction underpins basin modelling and pre-drill pore pressure prediction. Clay compaction is complex in that both mechanical and chemical compaction are driven by mineralogy, grain size, pore fluid chemistry, temperature, stress, rates of burial and possible exhumation. In a comprehensive study, Cicchino et al. systematically examine possible reasons for a regional variation in porosity by a factor of two in Cretaceous mudstones below 2700 m depth, offshore Norway. By integrating seismic data, well-logs, cuttings analyses, pressure measurements and temperature profiles the authors conclude that the porosity variation is caused by regional variations, over the past 3 Ma, in the ability of porewater to escape from mechanically compact mudstones undergoing chemical compaction and lithification. Since chemical compaction is arrested if porewater cannot escape, porosity is retained with a minor increase in pore pressure. This significant paper offers new insights into regional porosity variations and cautions against relying uniquely on porosity retention as a pore-pressure indicator.
2015  Peter J.R. Fitch  And co-authors Matthew D. Jackson, Gary J. Hampson and Cédric M. John
For their paper 'Interaction of stratigraphic and sedimentological heterogeneities with flow in carbonate ramp reservoirs: impact of fluid properties and production strategy', published in Petroleum Geoscience, volume 20, issue 1, February 2014, pp. 7-24.
The authors develop a suite of static models that capture the range of plausible stratigraphic architectures and rock and fluid properties associated with carbonate ramps. They then use these models with experimental design techniques to explore, by flow simulation, the influence of stratigraphic and sedimentary heterogeneities, well placement and completion strategies, fluid properties, and rock types on flow during water-flooding in each model. In their simulations, the modelled geology was found to be more important than the fluid properties or the specific production scenario. Rock properties affected original oil in place more than recovery factor, and reservoir architecture exerted primary controls on recovery regardless of production strategy, although well spacing impacted sensitivity to factors controlling vertical flow. This excellent academic analysis brings insights that will assist both flow simulation and production strategy in real-world field developments.
2014  Darrin Burton  And co-author Lesli J. Wood
For their paper 'Geologically-based permeability anisotropy estimates for tidally-influenced reservoirs using quantitative shale data', published in Petroleum Geoscience, volume 19, issue 1, February 2013, pp. 3-20.
Burton & Wood present a well-researched, argued and illustrated description of a workflow to relate permeability anisotropy at the reservoir scale to shale geometry, shale fraction and the vertical frequency of shale beds. Using data from well logs, cores and lidar scans at outcrops in Canada, New Mexico and Utah, they show how the unique shale character of each unit results in a different distribution of permeability anisotropy according to whether the geological environment is an estuarine point bar, a tidal sand ridge, or a tidal bar. Shales have been known to act as flow baffles for decades but this type of application has previously been limited by the lack of published shale-body distributions in tidally influenced reservoirs. The workflow presented here has wide-reaching application in other similar depositional environments.
2013  Alastair H.F. Robertson  And co-authors Osman Parlak and Timur Ustaömer
For their paper entitled ‘Overview of the Palaeozoic-Neogene evolution of Neotethys in the Eastern Mediterranean region (southern Turkey, Cyprus, Syria)’, published in Petroleum Geoscience, volume 18, issue 4, November 2012, pp. 381–404.
This paper presents an integrated synthesis of the geological and tectonic development of the easternmost Mediterranean basin from late Palaeozoic to Mid-Miocene times. The results of fieldwork in remote onshore locations, in collaboration with local research and knowledge, are combined with recently published studies to produce a series of regional palaeogeographic and palaeotectonic reconstructions. These highlight the timings of basin development and ocean closure, along with associated ophiolite emplacement, which the authors use to support an alternative model for the timing and tectonics of the Eastern Mediterranean basin. 
2012  Brit Thyberg  And co-author Jens Jahren
For their paper entitled ‘Quartz cementation in mudstones: sheet-like quartz cement from clay mineral reactions during burial’, published in Petroleum Geoscience, volume 17, no. 1, February 2011, pp. 53–63.
This paper presents new findings resulting from detailed and high-resolution petrographic examination of deeply buried mudstones from the Vøring Basin, offshore Norway. The authors demonstrate that authigenic, sheet-like or platelet-shaped quartz cement parallel to bedding is developed as a result of clay mineral transformations during burial and compaction. These cements may act as mudrock stiffening agents and vertical permeability barriers and as such may contribute to shale anisotropy and overpressure development. These innovative observations may significantly affect our understanding of shale diagenesis, with the potential for wider implications in hydrocarbon exploration.
2011  Michael R. Lentini  And co-authors Scot I. Fraser, H. Scott Sumner and Richard J. Davies
For their paper entitled “Geodynamics of the central South Atlantic conjugate margins: implications for hydrocarbon potential", published in Petroleum Geoscience, Vol. 16, nr 3, pp. 217-229.
This geographically wide-ranging and excellent multi-disciplinary contribution examines rifting and complex extension behaviour in the South Atlantic area and presents a new model for restoration of this province. The study presents an innovative approach to the synthesis of gravity and magnetic data with regional seismic interpretation and mapping; this, coupled with facies modelling and palaeoclimatology studies, has allowed the geological history of the margin to be explored. Inherited basement structural trends appear to partition crustal strain, such that both pure shear and simple shear end-member mechanisms are recorded by the syn-rift subsidence patterns. The implications for source and reservoir rock distribution and hydrocarbon exploration potential have been addressed in the light of the results.
2010  Behrooz Esrafili-Dizaji  And co-author Hossain Rahimpour-Bonab
Effects of depositional and diagenetic characterstics on carbonate reservoir quality: a case study from the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, Petroleum Geoscience vol.15, nr4, pp 325-344
A comprehensive and detailed geological study of the Persian Gulf's Permo-Triassic Upper Dalan-Kangan carbonate-evaporite interval, which hosts the largest reserve of non-associated gas in the world. The authors undertake a comprehensive and detailed facies analysis in the South Pars Field to establish within individual units the original depositional fabric and geometry, which is inherited from position within a homoclinal carbonate depositional ramp. While this forms the basis for rock typing, superimposed on this depositional fabric is a variable diagenetic imprint, resulting from differential burial and exposure.An excellent study, and a very well written paper, recording the very detailed petrographic and supporting work on an important heterogenous carbonate reservoir in a relatively unpublished area.
2009  Alexis Carrillat  And co-authors Tanwi Basu, Raul Ysaccis, Jonathan Hall, Amiruddin Mansor and Martin Brewer
For their paper "Integrated geological and geophysical analysis by hierarchical classification: combining seismic stratigraphy and AVO attributes", published in Petroleum Geoscience Vol.14.
The authors demonstrate the value of an innovative method combining seismic geomorphology, seismic stratigraphy, and fluid response from AVO, calibrated with existing geological and hydrocarbon data. Their method enables the identification of exploration leads in a consistent manner, reconciling the geological framework with seismic texture attributes and with AVO attributes for hydrocarbon mapping. The integrated workflow facilitates final interpretation of the sequence stratigraphic framework, depositional environment and ranking of the best prospects.
2008  Joseph M. Hovadik  And co-author David K. Larue
For their paper "Static characterisations of reservoirs: refining the concepts of connectivity", published in Petroleum Geoscience, Vol.13 No. 3.
This landmark paper illustrates the interaction between static 3d reservoir models and their dynamic fluid flow simulation, with particular emphasis on permeability variation and the concepts of connectivity and continuity. Key factors controlling reservoir connectivity are addressed, and new techniques are introduced to allow detailed characterisation of spatial variation of permeability within the reservoir. These innovative concepts integrate into the simulation model, and have associated implications for sweep efficiency and reservoir performance.
2007  Anders Draege  And co-authors Tor Arne Johansen, Ivar Brevik and Camilla Draege
For their paper “A Strategy for Modelling the Diagenetic Evolution of Seismic Properties in Sandstones”, published in Petroleum Geoscience, Vol. 12, No. 4.
The authors have presented innovative ways of incorporating geological and geochemical processes and implementing mineralogical reactions in rock physics modeling. The approach consists of a new interdisciplinary workflow: advanced geological modeling of mineralogy and porosity evaluation, followed by rock physics modeling of seismic properties that have been affected by diagenesis. The strategy presented can be treated as a new tool for exploration purposes, particularly for subsurface saturation, lithology and porosity prediction.
2006  Andreas Bosold  And co-authors Werner Schwarzhans, Ali Ashgar Julapour, Ali Reza Ashrafzadeh and Mohammed Hossein Ehsani
For their paper "The Structural Geology of the High Central Zagros revisited (Iran)", published in Petroleum Geoscience, Vol. 11 No.3. This is a multi-disciplinary study in classically thorough exploration style that examines the complex structure, geology and petroleum potential of this under explored area. Surface geological mapping is integrated with the limited well and seismic data available and is combined with recent satellite data, aeromagnetic, gravimetric and magnetotelluric data to generate useful petroleum play concepts. The work is of a particularly high standard and represents a valuable pioneering step in assessing the petroleum possibilities in this challenging area. Totally aside from its excellence as an achievement, the work is also a tribute to Norman Falcon for whom the Zagros Mountains region had claimed the biggest share of his geological activity and technical focus.
2005  Ane E. Lothe  And co-authors H. Borge and Roy H. Gabrielsen
For their paper: “Modelling of hydraulic leakage by pressure and stress simulations and implications for Biot’s constant: an example from the Halten Terrace, offshore Mid-Norway”, published in Petroleum Geoscience Vol.10, No.3, 2004. This is an integrated study that focuses on geomechanical modelling methodology. By means of a combination of simulation and subsequent verification against real pressure data within an overpressured petroleum basin, the authors have ably and effectively dealt with the complicated problem of predicting hydraulic fracturing and leakage over a geological time scale.
2004  Livio Ruvo  And co-authors Andrea Aldegheri, Roberto Galimberti, Elena Nembrini, Lucia Rossi and Roberto Ruspi
For their paper entitled "Multi-disciplinary study of the heavy-oil reservoirs in the Armatella Field, Sicily" which appeared in Petroleum Geoscience, Vol. 9, No. 3. This highly integrated reservoir study - based on laboratory fluid characterisation and being geologically constrained according to the structural evolution of SE Sicily - allowed a correct assessment of the reservoir geometry and of the field production behaviour. Using state-of-the-art methods for analysing the reservoir fracture network and properly designed modules for simulating non-conventional completions in a 3D dynamic model, it resulted into optimised drilling for draining undeveloped reserves.
2003  Wayne R. Bailey  And co-authors Tom Manzocchi, John J. Walsh, K. Keogh D. Hodgetts, J. Rippon, Phillips A.R. Nell , S. Flint and Julian Strand
For their paper entitled "The effects of faults on the 3D connectivity of reservoir bodies : a case study from the East Pennine Coalfield, UK" which appeared in Petroleum Geoscience, Volume 8, Number 3. On the basis of an exceptionally well-documented 3D block of the delta/fluvial reservoirs, the authors demonstrate the dependence of connectivity on the resolution of the fault pattern and how small faults can significantly increase connectivity.
2002  C. Bates  And co-authors D.R. Phillips, R. Grimm, H. Lynn
For their paper entitled “The Seismic Evaluation of a Naturally Fractured Tight Gas Sand Reservoir in the Wind River Basin, Wyoming”, published in Petroleum Geoscience volume 7, number 1 (February 2001).
2001*  O.V. Vejbk  And co-author L. Kristensen
For their paper “Downflank Hydrocarbon Potential Identified Using Seismic Inversion and Geostatistics: Upper Maastrichtian Reservoir Unit, Dan field, Danish Central Graben”, published in Petroleum Geoscience in February 2000.

* As from June 2001, all award titles will refer to the year in which they are presented to the winners, and no longer to the year in which the winning poster/paper was presented or published.
1999  M. Landrø  And co-authors O.A. Solheim, E. Hilde, B.O. Ekren and L.K. Strønen
For their paper “The Gullfaks 4D Seismic Study”, published in issue 5 of Petroleum Geoscience in 1999.