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The NSERC AITF/i-CORE Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Modelling Fundamentals of Unconventional Resource at the University of Calgary  is headed by Dr. Apostolos Kantzas. It builds on the outcomes of the CRC in Energy and Imaging. The Chair studies conventional heavy oil (non-thermal recovery processes), bitumen in oil sand (fundamental property identification: wettability, capillary pressure, relative permeability, and dispersion phenomena for steam-bitumen, solvent-bitumen and steam-solvent-bitumen systems) and bitumen in carbonates (comparison to clastics and characterization of multiple porosity systems). The primary objectives have been identified by industry and aligned with public sector priorities:

  • Understand the physics of multiphase flow in unconventional resources (in-situ) using lab experiments to establish data that can be used to validate models. The PI addresses this via a study of geological heterogeneities and the presence of mobile water.
  • Develop models of multiphase flow in unconventional resources at the pore level and then provide opportunities for collaborators to validate their models as well.
  • The lab work will establish the interaction parameters for fluid/fluid and solid/fluid under thermal and thermal/solvent conditions.
  • The resulting models and the application of these models by industry will facilitate industry goals to reduce their CO2 emissions and maximize the injection of GHG for oil and gas recovery processes.
  • Industry and collaborators will use the data and the modeling outcomes to further their own goals both in R&D and in the recovery of energy resources in Canada.

There are three secondary objectives:

  • Invent and commercialize proper tools that support core analysis with simultaneous visualization in a 300oC+ environment.
  • Identify, prove and/or invent and commercialize new technologies for unconventional resource development and these will be identified as the work progresses.
  • Foster the development of a knowledge-based entrepreneurial culture via the training of highly qualified personnel who are exposed to skill transfer between industry academia and government.

Kantzas held the CRC in Energy and Imaging for the past ten years and had supplementary funding from a consortium (established 2001) of oil and gas companies, who have participated for 10 years. The CRC tenure ended in 2011. As the Chair of this program, the PI fosters opportunities for sharing outcomes from interrelated areas of work by opening bimonthly and annual technical presentations to these various groups and programs. Due to the fundamental nature of this research the overall scientific quality of the research around unconventional energy resources is enhanced through this technology transfer process.