Energy and mineral engineering researchers receive best paper award from SPE

Ashley Nottingham
November 18, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Hamid Emami-Meybodi and Michael Cronin were recently awarded the 2019 Cedric K. Ferguson Medal, and Russell Johns was awarded the 2019 Cedric K. Ferguson Certificate from the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) for the best paper published in 2018 in a SPE journal. They were presented with the international awards at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 in Calgary, Canada.

The SPE Cedric K. Ferguson Medal honors professional achievement in petroleum engineering. Medals are awarded for the best paper to authors younger than 36 years old and certificates are awarded to co-authors older than 36. 

Cronin, a graduate student in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering (EME), Emami-Meybodi, assistant professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering,  and Russell Johns, professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering, were selected for their paper titled Diffusion-Dominate Proxy Model for Solvent Injection in Ultratight Oil Reservoirs.

“Our work examines the transport of condensed fluids in shales from a new perspective, one that does not rely on conventional advective frameworks but rather on diffusion,” said Emami-Meybodi. “This is important because our approach honors the true physics, with diffusion coefficients that are self-consistent and naturally entrain the influencing variables like pressure, temperature and concentration. This award represents a much welcome validation of our work and emboldens us to continue our efforts.”

Cronin joined the EME department as a doctoral student in fall 2016 and hopes this research will inform reservoir decisions.

“I hope that our research guides reservoir development decisions and provides a stepping-stone towards future research. I am thrilled beyond measure and humbled to have been recognized for this award,” said Cronin.

According the to the researchers, including the physics of diffusion improved recovery efficiency.

“Oil and gas shale reservoirs are very important to the welfare of the United States,” said Johns. “Diffusion likely explains why injection of a solvent, such as carbon dioxide, could increase recoveries significantly from the very low recoveries currently observed in oil shale reservoirs — around 5% of oil in place. Through a better understanding of physics, we may be able to improve the recovery efficiency for each well, reducing environmental impact. It’s really good to have this research be recognized.”

About the co-authors

Cronin earned a master’s degree in geological sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and dual bachelor’s degrees in petroleum and natural gas engineering and geosciences with honors from Penn State. Before starting his doctoral degree, Cronin worked as a geologist/reservoir modeler in Anadarko’s reservoir technology group. He is the current deputy managing editor of The Way Ahead, an SPE publication for young professionals.

Emami-Meybodi joined EME in 2015 following ten years in academia at the University of Calgary, Canada, and the Petroleum University of Technology, Iran. His research has been centered on the study of fluid flow and transport phenomena in porous media, spanning both applied and fundamental aspects. Emami-Meybodi has authored and co-authored more than 30 technical publications. He is the current faculty adviser for the SPE Student Chapter at Penn State. He is also the recipient of 2018 SPE Regional Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award.  

Johns is a former recipient of the Cedric K. Ferguson medal in 1994. He is also a recipient of 2016 Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award from SPE International. Johns is the current George E. Trimble Chair in Energy and Mineral Sciences and the Energi Simulation Chair in Fluid Behavior and Rock Interactions. He is also the director of the Enhanced Oil Recovery Join Industry Project (EOR-JIP).

For additional information about this research, view Understanding physics could lead to big gains in shale oil recovery.

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Last Updated November 19, 2019