Encouragement in and focus on research are the key elements of successfully developing and implementing new, innovative technologies at DPE.
Based on leading-edge experience in the simulation of reservoirs, the monitoring and analysis of drilling data and improved production methods, new and innovative topics relevant in research as well as in lecturing. Cost efficient drilling systems, advanced measurement systems for the oil&gas industry and production from fractured carbonates requires establishing new ideas in existing markets.
In addition, geothermal energy recovery or hydrogen storage in depleted natural gas fields are targeting new fields of application. New research laboratories and ‘well scale testing facility’ as part of the recently opened ‘Zentrum am Berg’ (ZAB) at the Erzberg are projected.
Cost Effective Drilling Systems
Today, the conventional drilling industry is using a very complex and therefore expensive way to drill wells. In many cases the effort to drill a well is unnecessarily high, which makes projects uneconomic or even not feasible. The industry is looking for more cost effective but safe ways to construct wells. Cheaper wells and a smaller environmental and logistic footprint would make projects feasible which are now uneconomic or impossible to realize.
Digital Design and Manufacturing
The successful development of Digital Design and Manufacturing of components for the oil and gas industry will change the status-quo and help to bring just-in-time strategy to the oilfield. For instance, technologies such as Additive Manufacturing (AM) are being investigated. This will reduce the inventory cost, improve well efficiency, safety and economics.
DDM will also help the industry produce oil and gas from mature wells safely and economically. This also opens the opportunity to incorporate features into the component which were not done earlier due to the limitation of conventional manufacturing.
The objective is to implement and research digital technology and software that allows contractors, operators, and service companies to be fit for the digital transformation of their businesses and to perform the operations safely and efficiently. Therefore, we provide realistic drilling operations training and a monitoring environment for event detection, root cause identification, and predictive analytics.
These competences are expanded by innovation management and digital transformation frameworks. Highly sophisticated drilling simulators in combination with small scale drilling test rigs allow the development of tailor-made solutions for the challenges of the drilling industry. Additionally, the open collaboration space generates the perfect environment for knowledge exchange amongst different domains to develop disruptive and innovative ideas.
To ensure a secure and environmentally safe wellbore over the whole life cycle of a well from drilling up to production, short and long term wellbore barriers are put in place. Key topics of the integrity of a well are the interaction between the various components which provide the integrity of the wellbore. There are evaluations of the long term risk, the cement/casing bond as well as the cement/rock bond.
The risk for future well integrity failures are assessed by taking into account historical cement data, available geology and possible long-term stress deformations. For the cement/casing bond the effects of local peak loads and changing hoop stresses in casing, resulting from temperature and pressure variations over the life time of an installation are studied. The adhesive forces between rock and cement are influenced by formation characteristics like in-situ stresses, porosity, permeability, wettability.
Geothermal Energy Recovery
Geothermal energy is an inexhaustible source of primary energy, spread globally and in massive amounts worldwide. The recovery of geothermal energy requires only small footprint facilities, and its extraction is known to be CO2 neutral and waste-free. To reach the defined emission limits, a considerable effort will be spent in the early future. A key technology will be to recover geothermal energy from small to large scale, as it provided besides other ground load potential.
The chair concentrates on steady-state and transient heat flow simulations for the conditions in- and outside of the geothermal well. Besides, the investigation of alternative materials for improving the operability of geothermal wells is done.
Simulation and Production Data Management
We are living in the era of data and we must learn how to capitalize its meaning. In Petroleum Production Engineering we are focusing on developing tools based on gigabytes of production data received daily in order to reduce operating costs and risks, increase production rates, contribute to faster and better decision making processes, reduce emissions, all these in order to lead to a more sustainable industry.
Our Chair has already been successful in this area during tight collaborations with several operating companies by building well monitoring and failure prediction tools for artificial lift systems. The outcome has demonstrated an increased data quality, more efficient production operations and more effective decision support tools.
Testing and Improving of Artificial Lift Systems
Artificial lift systems play a significant role in the recovery of oil, gas, and geothermal fluid. The change in reservoir conditions and techniques applied to increase the fluid recovery, alter the produced fluid properties, and challenge the artificial lift systems. The chair is specialized in testing and improving artificial lift systems for the complete range of its application. Simulations, like computational fluid dynamics analysis and finite element analysis, are applied to evaluate the overall performance and improvement of the systems. Mechanical and operational optimizations of the artificial lift systems are studied.
The chair’s pump test facility allows testing artificial lift systems at almost real field conditions and fills the gap between simulations and field tests. The pump test facility allows low testing costs in a controlled environment before expensive field testing is performed.
Ultrasound in Oil and Gas Industry
The ultrasonic technology provides a commercial and environment friendly solution to:
- treat different types of scaling, corrosion and precipitations,
- manipulate fluid viscosity,
- clean cuttings/sand contaminated by oil,
- optimize physical properties of cement and
- kill bacteria and algae in fluid media.
Decarbonization and Energy Transitioning
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, WG III, 2014) presents a series of energy and climate scenarios covering potential future pathways ranging from “very optimistic” to “business as usual,” including all the consequences for the environment and society. Even in the most favorable scenario (RCP 2.6) that allows mankind to maintain global warming below 2 °C, it is predicted that at the end of the 21st century, the total energy consumption will be higher than today with more than 50 % of fossil fuels in the primary energy mix. Among other measures, this scenario requires a wise selection of the fossil fuel types being developed in view of energy efficiency and the CO2 footprint of hydrocarbon production. Furthermore, a wide application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be required to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions associated with fossil fuel combustion and production.
The Chair of Reservoir Engineering is contributing to creating a sustainable energy future with research that may be categorized by: (a) subsurface hydrogen storage and conversion for large-scale renewable energy storage, (b) decarbonization by geological CO2 storage, and (c) understanding energy transitioning by arts-based research.
Reservoir engineering has long been digital. With today's computing power, it is possible to run simulations to significantly reduce and capture uncertainties that go beyond previous capabilities. This project is based on the implementation of new technologies from the pore to the field scale.
With the help of Digital Rock Physics (DRP), multiphase-flow parameters are being simulated that would otherwise need to be measured with great effort on a selected sample set that may not be statistically representative. DRP also allows multiphase flow to be directly simulated on digital twins from the m-CT (micro computed tomography) images, and highly complex geological models can be equipped with the results. Uncertainties can systematically be addressed, which paves the way for stochastic reservoir modeling and puts corresponding predictions in a correct statistical light. Moreover, the project is striving for a consistent integration of parameters from digital rock physics and special core analysis in a stochastic reservoir modeling workflow.
A major part of the conventional oil reserves cannot be recovered by primary and secondary recovery methods. This unrecovered oil is the target of Enhanced Oil Recovery methods (EOR) that have been developed to extract more oil from mature fields and enhancing recovery. However, EOR is typically expensive and is applied at a high oil price.
Our aim is to establish the necessary numerical and experimental tools to better understand EOR processes on multiple scales (pore to field), to be able to develop cost-competitive options tailored to individual fields. The focus areas will be on water-based techniques, such as alkaline and low-salinity water flooding, and on CO2 EOR.
In addition to developments in the Vienna Basin, fracture-carbonate fields in the Middle East are prospective targets of the chair. There are two ongoing projects that deal with two major fields in the region. Technologies related to the exploration, production, and improving recovery from carbonate reservoirs are screened and developed. The main emphasis is on optimizing tertiary recovery by considering different EOR mechanisms in reservoir simulations and laboratory measurements. Based on field data, the project delivers the necessary elements for the design of EOR pilots.