May 21, 2024

Inspiring Young Minds: RESMAN’s Seminar at the University of Houston

Our Chief Physicist Olaf Huseby recently delivered a guest lecture at the University of Houston. We discussed the important role of tracer technology in the energy industry with an impressive assembly of brilliant professors, researchers and engineering students.

We were thrilled to have our Chief Physicist Dr. Olaf Huseby deliver a seminar titled “Tracer Technology for Understanding and Quantifying Fluid Flows” to the Department of Petroleum Engineering at the University of Houston (UH).  The seminar was enthusiastically received by a distinguished gathering of faculty members and engineering students. The topic generated significant interest, leading to some insightful questions. We are very thankful to our hosts, Dr. George Wong and Dr. Guan Qin, for enabling this opportunity.

Located in the heart of the Energy Capital of the World, the UH Petroleum Engineering Department boasts robust and diverse research programs, as well as thriving industry consortia. Faculty members engage in cutting-edge research across a range of areas, including unconventional and conventional reservoirs, hydraulic fracturing, molecular simulation of rocks, rock mechanics and physics, reservoir management and stimulation, enhanced oil recovery, phase behavior interactions, data analytics, and energy transition.

The department is distinguished by its four members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), three members of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), and faculty with extensive industry experience. The petroleum engineering curriculum emphasizes the connection between classroom lessons and real-world applications through professional development and research opportunities.

Throughout the lecture, Olaf emphasized the wide-ranging opportunities presented by tracer technology, extending far beyond the confines of traditional oil and gas segments. Potential tracer applications in geothermal and Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCUS) sectors offer good career prospects for the students, showcasing the transformative potential of this innovative technology. Please check some questions and answers below.

Q1: It is a common assumption the injection site must be liquid, have you applied anything with gas?

A1: We've extensively explored the behavior of gas tracers for over 15 years, including tracer injections relevant to CCUS applications. Tracers offer intriguing data applicable to CCUS.

Q2: Tracers are passing through different phases - is this a challenge?

A2: Our team is developing tracers tailored to specific applications. Tracers are not complicated - it is the CO2 that is complicated! Our tracers have been deployed in numerous CCUS projects globally, addressing the complexity inherent in CO2 tracing.

Q3: We hear about sampling challenges for deployment, especially subsea - could you elaborate on the technology and its functionality in such environments?

A3: Sampling presents logistical challenges, particularly in subsea settings. Planning is crucial. We employ various sampling techniques, including elimination sampling, and utilize different types of molecules to overcome these challenges.

Q4: Traditional interpretation of tracer results involves uncertainty, especially in non-homogeneous reservoirs. Have you explored machine learning to address this?

A4: Machine learning is an intriguing avenue for interpreting tracer data, particularly in scenarios involving reservoir heterogeneity. Utilizing AI technologies can enhance data interpretation and reduce uncertainties, offering valuable insights to students and industry professionals.

Q5: Can you elaborate on the additional information tracers provide compared to conventional monitoring methods?

A5: Tracers offer unique insights, particularly in scenarios involving multiple injection points. They enable us to pinpoint the origin of injected fluids, which is crucial for understanding flow dynamics within complex reservoirs. Furthermore, tracers provide valuable information not captured by traditional monitoring methods, enhancing our general understanding of reservoir behavior.

We encourage students to explore tracer test data as part of their projects, providing a valuable opportunity to delve into real-world applications and formulate innovative solutions.

We are excited about the prospects for further collaboration with the University of Houston and its talented cohort of students. The lecture served as a valuable platform to exchange ideas and insights, laying the groundwork for future partnerships. We anticipate the continuation of this fruitful dialogue and the exploration of new frontiers in tracer technology together.