Unconventional Petroleum Resources

Our group has worked on optimizing heavy oil recovery from a reservoir in Midway Sunset (SPERE 2006), characterization of heavy oils and bitumens (J. Chrom Sci. 1996), and on a variety of processing and upgrading technologies (Fuel 1994, 1996). We are also working on a Tight Gas project funded by RPSEA (see below). Unconventional gas will continue to grow because of the large domestic resources available, because of the versatility of natural gas as a fuel and because of the relatively low carbon footprint. The Rockies are also home to large oil shale and significant, but smaller oil sands resources. Oil price, the importance of extracting these domestic resources for strategic reasons and environmental impact and operational carbon footprint will all figure into whether these will be commercially exploited. Regardless of the political and strategic directions, technological innovation will be critical in commercializing these resources. We are working on fundamentals of oil formation from shale, scaling up the kinetic processes for incorporation into reservoir models, and on developing innovative in-situ methods for oil shale conversion.