The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences
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December 2014


A decade ago, the concept of developing nanotech-nology to explore for and recover oil and gas was just that—a concept. Fast-forward to today, and researchers from institutions around the world are closer than ever to making the products of their intricate research into nanotech-nology commercially viable. The Advanced Energy Consortium (AEC), founded in 2008 by the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin, has invested over $40 million from its industry partners into remarkably productive nano-technology research. The AEC coordinates the participation of a select group of industry partners (BG, BP, Petrobras, Repsol, Schlumberger, Shell, Statoil, and Total) interested in this cutting-edge technology. Their partner investments support diverse but related research efforts across the globe; over 30 universities and research institutions have received AEC funding over the years. At the AEC’s 10th All Projects Review, held recently in Houston, 145 project principal investigators, industry representatives, graduate students, and interested researchers were privileged to hear presentations of findings demonstrating how dramatically these nanotechnologies have evolved. More than 145 representatives from industry and academia attended AEC's 10th annual All Projects Review.  Click to see full image.The progressive transitions from basic research to real-world applications are notable, as are the strong cooperative efforts among research entities that have developed over the years, with project teams building on each other’s research products. Research areas are now divided into “use cases”—subsurface solutions for improving the profitability of a specific oil and gas application that include sufficient detail for guiding the development of a demonstration prototype. The use cases discussed at the All Projects Review included tiny downhole semiconductors, time-released delivery of nanosensors, smarter downhole surfactants, and nano-particles to illuminate the subsurface. All this prototype research must take into account survivability at the tremendous downhole temperatures and pressures encountered in oil and gas reservoirs, as well as considering whether the prototype is commercially scalable and economically feasible. These are tough obstacles to overcome, but there is broad confidence that commercial applications resulting from AEC research are just over the horizon. For information about participating in the Advanced Energy Consortium, please contact Jay Kipper.

Bob Loucks conducts a core workshop during the RCRL annual meeting.  Photo courtesy of Caroline Lessio Cazarin.

The Reservoir Characterization Research Laboratory (RCRL) held its annual research review October 23–28, featuring a pre-meeting field trip, a core workshop, and technical presentations. On October 23–25, Charles Kerans, Chris Zahm, and Chris Voorhees led a trip to a spectacular outcrop of Lower Cretaceous strata in Central Texas. The field trip allowed participants to examine in detail the global vs. local character of OAE1A/B and the Late Aptian eustatic fall, as well as the style and depositional elements of a mixed siliciclastic‐carbonate strandplain system. The trip was followed by a short core workshop to examine, in core, the time-equivalent downdip facies successions and stratigraphic architecture. On October26, RCRL held its annual core workshop, presenting eight cores ranging in age from the Pennsylvanian to the Miocene. On October 27 and 28, RCRL reported its research results from 2014; these two days of technical presentations were attended by more than 81 members of 27 sponsoring companies. This year, RCRL graduate students also introduced their work during a special 2-hour poster session.

RCRL 2014 field trip. Photo courtesy of Caroline Lessio Cazarin.

Mike Hudec (right) prepares to open the 26th annual meeting of the Applied Geodynamics Laboratory

The Applied Geodynamics Laboratory (AGL) held its 26th annual review meeting in Austin November 13–14. A record 385 registrants listened to 21 presentations on salt tectonics over the course of the two-day meeting. Presenters included AGL staff Dan Carruthers, Tim Dooley, Mahdi Heidari, Mike Hudec, and Maria Nikolinakou, as well as collaborators from nine other universities and research institutes around the world.

Tim Dooley (opposite side by video screen) gives a tour of AGL's modeling laboratory





 
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