[This article appeared in GEOExPro Vol. 11, No.1 – 2014]

The Predictive Power of Palynology
David Upton

Microfossils are key to understanding the evolution of life on earth. Demand in the petroleum industry for palynologists – experts in the study of these minute fossilised organisms – is suddenly running hot…

The revival is being led by a new breed of palynologists such as Perth-based Jeff Goodall, who have a keen focus on applying their science to the problems of petroleum discovery.

UK born and educated, Goodall migrated to Australia in 1999 to take up an in-house palynologist position with Santos. The Adelaide-based independent had bucked the 1980s shift from palynology and maintained a sizeable department under the leadership of Geoff Wood. Goodall left three years ago to join a consultancy founded some 30 years earlier by an icon of the industry, Roger Morgan, who is now phasing into retirement. The new partnership known as Morgan Goodall Palaeo (MGP) has grown from two palynologists in 2011 to more than a dozen today, servicing Australasia and the South East Asian region. It is within striking distance of laying claim to being the largest consultancy of its kind in the world.

Goodall says the growth of MGP and the revival of palynology more generally is due to a number of factors. “There is growing awareness among petroleum geologists that palynology is much more than age dating. It’s being recognised as a tool that can help them gain a much better understanding and de-risking of the geology, allowing them to go for the more difficult targets, and that’s increasingly important now all the easy oil has been found.” He added that palynology also provided solutions for modern exploration challenges, such as horizontal and directional drilling, especially for unconventional targets.

Goodall said MGP’s rapid growth was due to its emphasis on applying palynology to solving exploration problems, and speaking in a language that geologists understood. “We convert the science of palynology and all the long Latin names into a language the geologist can understand so they can go and find oil. Most people are not interested in Latin names, but if you convert them into geological thought, then that’s a powerful tool.”

You can read the full article HERE.