Petroleum Engineering

We lead research in two major areas of production chemistry: Oilfield Scale and Gas Hydrate Management. The Flow Assurance and Scale Team (FAST) JIP had 25 industrial sponsors and a REF income of £6.8M from the JIP. The research has resulted in updates to “SQUEEZE”, which is industry standard software and underpins business decisions on scale prevention valued in millions of dollars each year. Its use in designing treatments is a pre-requisite in scale management tender documents worldwide. The expertise has been applied to other chemical enhanced oil recovery processes such as low salinity water and polymer flooding.

Activity ranges from exploration to production technology. Research into "carbonate reservoirs" has focussed on increasing the recovery ratio and we are a founding member of the ExxonMobil Research Alliance "Fundamental Control of Flow in Carbonates". This collaboration includes nine European and one US universities. Researchers have collaborated with Imperial College London and Montan University of Leoben to host a Joint Industry Project (JIP) on fractured (carbonate) reservoirs and undertook, jointly with the Maxwell Institute, two EPSRC-funded projects to study fundamental processes of flow and transport in complex porous media. Breakthroughs in "enhanced oil recovery" include

  • Water-Alternating Gas (WAG)
  • Heavy Oil Recovery

Petroc Technologies Ltd was spun-out in 2009 and has developed, through a Scottish Enterprise PoC project, unique technology to prevent CO2 leakage from geologic reservoirs and won a Smart Award and the prestigious Shell Springboard award in 2011.

Hydrates Research has involved projects in:

  • Gas Hydrates and Flow Assurance
  • Reservoir Fluid Studies
  • Low Dosage Hydrate Inhibitors
  • Hydrate Monitoring and Early Warning Systems
  • Cold Flow

The research is being commercialised by ERPE spinout Hydrafact under license and includes, HydraFLASH, HydraCHEK and HydraSENS. HydraFLASH (Hydrate and Phase Behaviour Modelling Software).

Research in production technology generated techniques and evaluation methodologies for well and field monitoring, control and optimisation. Achievements include the development of a novel, reactive well control methodology. This was used to part justify intelligent wells in a field under development. The CAPEX reduction and predicted NPV increase both exceed £100M.

ERPE Academics, Christie and Demyanov undertake rigorous assessment of uncertainties in forecasting oil and gas reservoir production. Key advances have been: application of novel techniques to calibrate models to data and to optimise their performance; increased justification and realism of reservoir predictions, with better use of geological data and knowledge; development of robust learning based approaches to integrate data into reservoir models under uncertainty.

TSB funded research with the Maxwell Institute has resulted in further development and dissemination of advanced optimisation and inference techniques for reservoir prediction and has been applied by BP and by ERPE spin-out Epistemy. Fundamental aspects in prediction uncertainty modelling will be developed by a network project with, Warwick University and UCL, which has been recently supported by the EPSRC platform grant.

Reservoir Geophysics Research has resulted in innovations integrating seismology, engineering and geology for reservoir description and effective reservoir management. For example: the Edinburgh Time-Lapse Project, with quantitative, dynamic 4D seismic interpretation of hydrocarbon reservoirs, is now in its fifth phase, and has 20 oil and service company sponsors with a combined budget of £1.7M.

Institute of Petroleum Engineering Schematic map image
Institute of Petroleum Engineering Schematic