During the oil recovery process, it is common for a significant percentage of oil in place to remain after initial operations. To increase the oil recovery, Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) processes may be applied – which can consist of gas, thermal, chemical or modified salinity methods. One of the most long-standing EOR methods is polymer flooding, whereby the injection water is dosed with a water-soluble polymer that significantly increases the aqueous phase viscosity. The increase in injection viscosity results in improved oil displacement and counters some reservoir heterogeneity effects. Polymer flooding has typically involved the use of polyacrylamide based polymers in moderate temperature / salinity sandstone reservoirs. Polyacrylamide polymers typically provide good cost vs. viscosification balance and have acceptable retention characteristics in many sandstone media.
Over 50% of the remaining oil reserves in the world are in carbonate formations, and therefore there is significant interest in establishing polymer EOR in such systems. Traditional polyacrylamides have not seen widespread adoption in carbonates due to poor injectivity of the polymer solution and reduced propagation in carbonate reservoirs. This PhD programme sets out to identify potential candidate chemistries for use as EOR polymers in carbonates by carrying out a systematic literature review, and studying certain identified polymer candidates using four key metrics - viscosification, adsorption/propagations, injectivity and chemical stability. The objective is to identify polymers suitable for use in the polymer flooding of carbonate reservoirs.
This PhD project will utilise state-of the art experimental equipment to validate potential candidate chemistries identified by the student. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to present their results to the funding body, DPI: The Polymer Research Institute, and to their industrial partners Shell and SNF. The intention is to publish the results of this project in high impact academic journals.
The scholarship is open to UK/EU applicants. Applicants should be educated to BSc or Masters Degree level in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or other numerate scientific/engineering subject and they should preferably have some prior laboratory experience. The applicant should also demonstrate good English language skills, attention to detail, a disciplined and methodical approach to completing their workload, computer literacy, excellent communication skills and the ability to write reports, collate information and present it in a clear and engaging manner.
Please complete our online application form and select PhD Petroleum Engineering within the application and include the project reference, title and supervisor names on your application. If these details are not included your application may not be considered. Please also provide a supporting statement (1-5 A4 pages), outlining how you would approach your research. This should be uploaded to the ‘project proposal’ section of the application form. You will also be required to upload a CV, a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts and one academic reference. You will be asked to enter details of an academic referee. Until your nominated referee has uploaded their statement, your application will not be marked as complete and will not be considered by the review panel. If English is not your mother tongue, or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English, you must also provide proof of your ability in the English language. We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0 or a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 90 points.
The scholarship will cover tuition fees and provide a stipend for the 36 month duration of the project.
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