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PhD Studentship (Sponsored by BP) – Understanding High Pressure/High Temperature (HPHT) ‘Sweet’ and ‘Sour’ (CO2/H2S) Environments

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Paul
    Dr D Smyth-Boyle
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Applicants are invited to undertake a PhD programme in partnership with BP.

Oil and Gas Exploration and Production (O&G E&P) activities increasingly involve operations in high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) conditions typically found in offshore deep-water locations. For operators, these environments introduce difficult and often unique technical challenges throughout the life of the well. There is considerable interest in developing a better fundamental understanding of HPHT conditions. Non-ideal gas and solution behaviour results in non-linearity in gas pressure vs. fugacity and ion concentrations vs. activities correlations, which leads to uncertainties in assessing the aggressivity of an HPHT environment. This in turn leads to problems in both materials selection for use in the field and design of realistic qualification tests.

An important requirement for developing a greater understanding of HPHT conditions is identification of the key controlling parameter(s) and development of accurate representations of those parameters using a reduced set of variables in laboratory tests.

While there are several available software packages that can predict some environmental variables that may affect the material behaviour, none is capable of defining all the key parameters for a given set of temperature, pressure and compositional data. However, basic outputs such as solution pH should be straightforward and various tools can be employed to extract more fundamental information such as fugacity coefficients, partial pressures and aqueous activity coefficients.

This project will involve:
• Initial work involving commissioning of modelling software
• Experimental validation of modelling outputs through small-scale laboratory tests
• Interpretation of real HPHT field conditions and confirmatory empirical trials for the conditions of interest

About the sponsor

As one of the world’s leading oil and gas companies, BP operates in some of the deepest waters in the world, where reservoirs can be thousands of feet below the seabed, and with hot, highly pressurised corrosive fluids. In such testing environments, the management of structural integrity is of critical importance. BP are interested in new approaches and technologies that lead to improved safety, more effective and more cost-efficient. For more information about BP, its activities and latest news visit our website:


Projects will be based at NSIRC, a state-of-the-art postgraduate facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI in Cambridge. NSIRC is sponsored by TWI, BP and Lloyd’s Register Foundation and students will work to deliver industry relevant research. PhDs will be supervised and awarded by one of our academic partners such as Brunel University London, Cambridge, Manchester, Loughborough, Birmingham, Leicester, Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Leeds, Cranfield and Coventry. For more information about The National Structural Integrity Research Centre, visit

Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree, in Chemical Engineering, Petroleum Geoscience/Engineering, Physical Chemistry, Geochemistry, or Environmental Chemistry, Materials Science or Metallurgy . Candidates with suitable work experience and strong capacity in numerical modelling and experimental skills are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5) if applicable.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by BP, TWI and academic partners. The studentship will provide successful Home/EU students with a stipend of £16k/year (equivalent to approx. £20k tax free salary) and will cover the cost of tuition fees. Overseas applicants are welcome to apply, with total funding capped at £20k/year.

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