Petroleum Engineering

Brian Toelle

Brian Toelle

Professor of Practice

E-mail: | Phone: 307-766-6780

Office Location: Room 4044, Engineering Building

Dept. 3295, 1000 E. University Avenue

Laramie, WY 82071


  • Ph.D. Geology (emphasis on Applied Geophysics), 2013, West Virginia University
  • M.S. Natural Science (emphasis on Structural Geology), 1981, Stephen F. Austin State University
  • B.S. Geology, 1978, Texas A & M University

Research Interests:

FlareNitro - Produced Natural Gas Flaring Mitigation
Dr. Toelle has been awarded a provisional patent (see the “Patents” section below) for a methodology designed to mitigate the flaring of natural gas at oil well sites. During oil production in some geologic plays, the oil produced has a high volatile content and gas comes out of solution when the oil comes to the surface due to the release of pressure. Dr. Toelle and his co-inventor, Dr. Maohong Fan, are researching a new method for capturing this gas which is referred to as "FlareNitro". This process could increase an operating company’s profits from wells that produce this type of gas as well as decreasing the environmental impact of the installations by eliminating the need for flaring.” Please see the link to a video that describes some of this research under the section below entitled “Research Web Sites”.
Petroleum Systems Modeling of Wyoming Geologic Basins
While working for Texaco, Dr. Toelle performed a number of basin analyses in offshore California. His research group, The Wyoming Petroleum Systems Research Group, is currently using a state-of-the-art, full 3-D petroleum systems modeling program to model the petroleum systems with various geologic basins in Wyoming. Dr. Toelle presented some of the results of this group’s work at the AAPG's Regional Conference in Cheyenne in 2019 and this work received the Steve Champlin Memorial Award for the best poster presentation. Modeling work is continuing on selected basins within Wyoming. Please see the link to this group’s web page under the section below entitled “Research Web Sites”.
Seismic-Based Porosity / Fracture Detection
Since 2001, Dr. Toelle has investigated the use of various seismic attributes for the detection of open fracture systems. This research was conducted during consulting projects for various Schlumberger clients. As a result of some of this research, Dr. Toelle obtained a patent for Schlumberger in 2005 (Patent No. 6,941,228). He is currently continuing his research in this field.
Nitro-Tube - Wildfire Suppression
In 2013 the “Governor’s Task force on Forests” identified wildfire as one of the major threats to Wyoming’s forests. Since then a number of major wildfires have destroyed millions of acres of forest throughout the western US including over 175,000 acres of Wyoming forests during the Mullen wildfire in 2020 in the Medicine Bow Mountains. In an effort to mitigate this threat Dr. Toelle is researching the potential of re-purposing certain oil and gas industry equipment and methods for fighting wildfires. For this effort he formed a research group with the help of his co-inventors, Dr. Suresh Muknahallipatna and Dr. Robert Kubichek, and they obtained a non-provisional patent on the technology (see the “Patents” section below). The proposed method is known as NitroTube and is currently seeking funding to continue this research.
4D Seismic Analysis and Reservoir Monitoring
Dr. Toelle's Ph.D. research included the monitoring of injected CO2 within a subsurface reservoir for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery. During this research, Dr. Toelle used 4-D seismic difference mapping to identify where within a carbonate reservoir, Silurian aged pinnacle reef in the northern Michigan basin, CO2 flowed following injection at a particular well location. This research was funded by the US Department of Energy (DE-FC26-04NT15425) and has implications with regard to CO2 sequestration. (DOE brochure, p.18)
Azimuthal Seismic
In addition to the enhanced oil recovery project mentioned above, Dr. Toelle's PhD research also investigated the interpretation of Azimuthal Seismic volumes for discriminating between matrix porosity and fracture systems within carbonate reservoirs. This on-going research has significant implications with regard to the characterization of reservoirs with respect to their development, particularly during the enhanced oil recovery phase. Additionally, this is proving to be of significance with regard to production from shale oil reservoirs, as knowing where open, natural fracture systems exist within these reservoirs is important to economic production.
Tectonic Inheritance
Since the start of his career Dr. Toelle has been interested in Plate Tectonics and has conducted research into the concept of Tectonic Inheritance. Before coming to the University of Wyoming his research in this area was focused on geologic features in central Oklahoma that relate to the breakup of the super-continent Pannotia. While working in Wyoming he has begun investigating large scale geologic features as they pertain to his work on basin modeling (see above) and how they may relate to previous tectonic events.


  • “Method and system and program storage device for analyzing compressional 2D seismic data to identify zones of open natural fractures within rock formations”, patent no. 6941228,
  • “NitroTube” – Non-provisional application filed, March 4, 2020.  Serial No.  16/810,255
  • “FlareNitro” – Provisional application filed December 18, 2019.  Serial No. 62/949,814
  • “V-Clear Air” – Provisional application filed July 30, 2020.  Serial No. 63/059,016
Contact Us

Energy & Petroleum Engineering

EN 4015

Dept. 3295

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071


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