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Petroleum Engineering Research Group

The Petroleum Engineering Research Group conducts research in different upstream areas. Our interests include Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), Reservoir Modelling, Unconventional Resources (coal, gas hydrates, shale), Hydraulic Fracturing/Fracture Stimulation, Formation Damage Control and CO2 geo-sequestration. Our aim is to prioritise the research lines of the Western Australia oil and gas industry.

We encourage enquiries from students and researchers wishing to pursue research activities in our research group. We also welcome enquiries from industry seeking solutions or collaborations in relevant research areas.

Research Themes

Unconventional Gas Reservoir

Gas production from unconventional resources such as shale, tight rock and coal seam gas reservoirs has attracted significant attention in recent years. However, gas storage, movement and production mechanisms in unconventional reservoirs are considerably different to those in conventional reservoirs. As Australia has huge unconventional gas reserves, one of our research goals is to improve fundamental understanding of such unconventional resources and how exploitation can be optimised.

Stimulation of Natural Fracture Networks in Fractured Reservoirs

Stimulation of natural fracture networks in conventional and unconventional reservoirs increases the permeability and consequently oil and gas productivity. Technically highly pressurised fluids are injected into the fractures to propagate them further and thus to improve the conductivity of the fracture  network. Our Group is devoted to conduct experimental work, mathematical modelling and simulation studies on fracture conductivity enhancement using slickwater, nano-fluid and acid injection.

Proppant Placement in Hydraulic and Natural Fracture Systems

Proppants are typically placed in the stimulated fractures to ensure that the created flow paths remain open and thus, conductive, once the treating pressure is relieved. The pack conductivity for a given proppant is a function of the proppant size, strength, grain shape (roundness and sphericity), embedment into the fracture faces, fracturing fluid residue, fines migration, effective stress on proppant, fluid flow effects (non-Darcy and multi-phase flow), etc. Developing mathematical models and performing laboratory studies to describe the flow of suspensions in fractured systems are of great importance to evaluate the optimum proppant placement in both hydraulic fracturing and naturally fractured systems. So optimising
proppant placement is one of our research priorities.

Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing is one of the most popular stimulation methods in both conventional and unconventional reservoirs. Hydraulic fracturing in naturally fractured rocks (e.g. coals, shales, sandstones or carbonates), is a process that interconnects a cleat or natural fracture network to the wellbore. Therefore, improving interaction between a hydraulically created fracture and the pre-existing fracture network can significantly enhance the efficiency of a hydraulic fracturing treatment. We conduct experimental studies and mathematical modelling in this area.

Formation Damage Control

Oil and Gas production after drilling, completion and hydraulic fracturing is strongly influenced by formation damage, which reduces the reservoir permeability and fracture conductivity. Formation damage control thus plays a vital role to maintain and/or improve hydrocarbon production from conventional and unconventional reservoirs. Hence, theoretical and experimental research in the area of formation damage control in reservoirs is one of our research priorities.

CO2-Sequestration

reservoirs serves a dual-purpose of enhancing production while sequestrating CO2. Nowadays, CO2 emissions have been identified as a major contributor to global warming. Therefore, CO2 geo-sequestration is a key technology to mitigate climate change. We thus conduct experimental and computational work in this area.

Rock Wettability

Rock wettability is a primary parameter which significantly determines hydrocarbon production and CO2 geo-sequestration schemes. However, wettability is not well understood on a fundamental level. We thus conduct fundamental experimental research in this area to enhance general knowledge.

Contact

If you are interested in applying to ECU and want to discuss a specific project proposal in the Petroleum Engineering Group, please contact:

Professor Stefan Iglauer
T: (61 8) 6304 5832     E: s.Iglauer@ecu.edu.au

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