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Experimental study and data mining of microbial enhanced oil recovery processes

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Sharifi
    Dr R Rafati
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Enhanced oil recovery processes have been developing fast over the last 2 decades to improve both the economics and efficiency of hydrocarbon recovery. In the microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) process, the use of microorganisms is considered as a replacement for the conventional EOR processes. This process is especially interesting in small reservoirs where the application of conventional EOR methods may not satisfy the economics of the process.

MEOR is a complex process that should be investigated thoroughly before its implementation. The nature of microorganisms, oil types, and reservoir conditions present complexities that require detailed evaluations using experimental and theoretical tools. In this project, experimental methods are used to understand the response of microorganisms to different types of oil at different temperatures, pressures, and salinities. Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) can be employed to improve our predictions based on the collected data from the experiments and previous field trials. Finally, a comprehensive model that can analyse the application of the MEOR process regarding its economics will be developed.

Hydrocarbon leakage from subsurface environments has been a critical concern for groundwater resources and atmospheric pollutions. Methane leakage from hydraulically fractured shale reservoirs and oil and gas leakage from offshore abandoned wells raised the issue that well integrity and current remedial solutions may not be adequate to overcome them.

In this study, new environmentally friendly chemicals that can withstand the harsh conditions (high temperatures, corrosive environments, and geological stresses) will be formulated and tested in laboratories to simulate downhole conditions. The new materials have low toxicity compared to the current commercial ones; furthermore, they may have the potential to block fractures and fissures through different in-situ processes. Different tests using high tech facilities such as X-Ray CT scan, rheometer, and stress analysis equipment will be conducted to characterise the new chemicals to be used for well plugging and abandonment (well P&A). Once the physical and chemical properties of the new chemicals (surface wettability, solubility, adhesiveness, and stress/strain properties) are determined, they will be tested on prototypes of shale reservoirs and mature wells to justify the application of such chemicals for pilot tests.

The successful candidate should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Petroleum Engineering closely related degrees.

Knowledge of: Petroleum Engineering, Enhanced Oil Recovery Processes, Artificial Intelligence, Data Mining


Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.


Informal inquiries can be made to Dr A Sharifi ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ([Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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