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School of Energy Resources Announces Proposal Winners for the Mowry Shale Project

September 13, 2022
mowry shale

The School of Energy Resources is pleased to announce the selected UW proposals that will be funded in phase I of the Mowry Shale Project.

The Mowry Shale is the largest hydrocarbon source for Lower Cretaceous petroleum system in the Powder River Basin (PRB). However, it has only rarely been a direct focus of unconventional oil production.

Recent studies from the Enhanced Oil recovery Institute (EORI) and SER have identified new areas of production potential in the Mowry and novel approaches to resource evaluation. Building off these novel approaches SER is launching a focused effort on the Mowry Total Petroleum System to improve understanding and increase production.

In order to define research gaps, develop faculty expertise, and create a workforce of graduate students, SER requested UW faculty submit proposals that addressed two areas of interest; the first, Shale Fundamental Studies, is aimed at advancing physics-based modeling and experimentation, and the second, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, supports data driven approaches to draw meaningful insights from large data sets.

“The primary focus of this funding is to continue to energize multidisciplinary oil and gas research at UW, while focusing on improving the understanding Wyoming’s highest potential oil and gas reservoir,” says SER Senior Director of Research, Scott Quillinan. “We received a lot of great proposals and have selected projects that have the potential to increase our understanding of the petroleum system, which in turn will lead to increases in the reserve-base and improve recovery in this complex geologic reservoir.”

Six research proposals were chosen to receive seed funding under the request for proposals. Selected projects include:

– Kam Ng, an associate professor in civil and architectural engineering, leads the project, titled “Fundamental study through Experimental Investigation to Advance the Geomechanical Understanding of the Mowry Shale,” along with Vladamir Alvarado, a professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, and SER Research Scientist Grant Copeland.

– Alvarado leads a second project with Saman Aryana, an associate professor in chemical engineering and the Occidental Chair in Energy and Environmental Technologies, and Fred McLaughlin, the director of SER’s Center for Economic Geology Research (CEGR), titled, “Does shale stimulation improve or hamper reservoir productivity?”

– Soheil Saraji, an associate professor in petroleum engineering, leads the proposal, titled “Sweet Spot Identification in the Mowry Formation: A Synergistic Laboratory Characterization and Machine Learning Framework.”

– Vamegh Rasouli, professor and department head and the LeNorman Endowed Leadership Chair in Petroleum Engineering and Morteza Dejam, an associate professor of petroleum engineering, lead the proposals entitled, “Design and Fabrication of a Cylindrical True Triaxial (CTT) Experimental Set-up for Geomechanical Characterization of Mowry Shale in Wyoming.”

– Xiang Zhang, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering, leads the proposal, titled “Interaction between Bentonites layers and hydraulic fractures: toward modeling and design of multistage hydraulic fractures for reduced uncertainty and increased productivity in Mowry Petroleum System.”

– The SER team of research scientists Matt Johnson, Grant Copeland, and Yuri Ganshin will lead the project, titled, “Defining Potential of the Mowry Shale in Wyoming’s Laramide Basins.” CEGR Director Fred McLaughlin will also contribute to the project. The SER team will also serve as the data repository and central data collection point for all of the projects.

“We are excited to have brought together a team of experts to address multiple aspects of the Mowry play focused on an important energy challenge for Wyoming,” adds Quillinan.

Phase I funding for the project is being provided by the Wyoming Energy Authority. The selected projects will be funded for up to 8 months and with a maximum budget of $150,000 each. In the coming months, and in collaboration with industry, the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute and the Wyoming Geological Survey, we will begin planning the next phase of efforts for this program.

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