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Improving predictions of waterflood efficiency through laboratory studies, formation evaluation, and geochemical monitoring

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S A Bowden
    Dr Y Tanino
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

The most common method of secondary oil production is waterflooding, whereby water is injected into a reservoir to displace the oil towards production wells. Under ideal conditions, the injected water (flood water) uniformly ‘sweeps’ the oil towards the wells. Unfortunately, conditions are often not ideal, nor is waterflood displacement 100% efficient.

An analytical solution exists which predicts the rate of oil production from a reservoir from its relative permeability to the oil and the water. Accordingly, much effort has been dedicated to developing models that predict relative permeability from properties of the reservoir rock and the fluids, such as interfacial tension, macroscopic contact angle, and the pore network. The aim of this project is to relate these properties to the geology and geochemistry of the reservoir, namely, water composition, oil composition, reservoir mineralogy, petrography, and physical factors such as temperature.

The student will use lab-on-a-chip devices to study the impact of mineralogy, oil chemistry, water chemistry, and other factors easily measured at the well site on waterflood oil recovery. The observations will be complemented by repeating selected waterfloods on real rock samples. Finally, using these laboratory data as a guide, empirical or analytical descriptions of waterflood recovery will be developed.

Specific topics of research include:
• non-saline flooding of arkosic and carbonate reservoirs
• dual- and multi-charged reservoirs
• basalts and ultramafic mineralogies
• geochemical monitoring of produced fluids during EOR
• high-TAN and high-haematite systems
• argillaceous (clay rich) carbonates
• any other novel areas of interest

The successful student will need to achieve a high level of independence and competence in a suite of established and novel techniques, including corefloods, microfluidics, petrography, oil analysis, and water analysis. The student will also become adept at using software for geological description and modelling.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in a relevant engineering or physical science discipline. Previous laboratory experience is essential. Expertise in fluid mechanics, aqueous geochemistry, petroleum geochemistry, petrophysics, formation evaluation, or petrography will be an advantage.

Funding Notes

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


Application procedure

Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Y Tanino ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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