Postgraduate studentship: Mathematical modelling of low salinity enhanced oil recovery


Applications are invited for a CASE studentship, funded by EPSRC and BP, to work on “Mathematical Modelling of Low Salinity Enhanced Oil Recovery” under the supervision of Dr Chris Breward and Professor Jon Chapman. This D.Phil. studentship must start by 31 August 2014, and will be based at the Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The studentship includes a standard stipend (currently £13,590 per annum), CASE student enhancement (£3,000 per annum), and College and University fees at the UK/EU rate. This studentship is open to all EU citizens, but those from outside the UK are eligible for a fees-only award. This studentship is attached to St Anne’s College.

About 1/3rd of the world’s oil reserves are contained in pores within rocks and this oil is difficult to extract. Typically, seawater is pumped through the reservoir to force the oil out. BP found that, by using lower salinity water, they are able to extract more oil for the same injected volume of water. This novel technology is called low salinity EOR and enhances oil recovery from the pores. Experiments undertaken by BP suggest that the presence of salt ions causes oil to adhere to the clay particles in the rocks, and it is this pathway which is disrupted by the replacement with lower salinity water.

BP would like to know how the processes taking place on the pore scale affect the amount of oil recovered on the reservoir scale. We will work in iterative collaboration with BP to help explain how using low salinity injection water works. We will work in iterative collaboration with BP to help explain the action of low salinity injection water, and will develop and solve models both at the pore-scale and on the macroscopic scale.

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The techniques we will use span modelling, analysis and computation, and the student will attend relevant courses in their first year. In addition, BP will provide expert advice and training in current understanding of the chemistry of the system, the work flow being used and its limitations and how the technology is being applied to oil field applications. The intent is for the student to gain a good understanding of current industrial practice and the requirements for developing a commercial viable enhanced oil technique so that the outcome of the project can be best integrated into industry practice. As much as possible, the student will be familiarised and use real oil field examples to test the outcome of the research.

Applications should be made online via the ‘Apply’ button below, and should include a CV, covering letter, three references and a transcript of your undergraduate degree. If you are unable to apply online, you can request a paper form from

Applications must arrive by noon on Friday 24 January 2014. Please quote the correct reference BK/13/009 in your covering letter. References can also be sent directly to Sandy Patel (email [email protected]) by the closing date. For further details of the projects, including the application process, please see:

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