University of Calgary

Getting a better look inside the reservoir

UToday HomeDecember 10, 2012

Mario Costa Sousa. Photo by Riley Brandt(left to right): Duke Anderson, president, Foundation CMG; Suzanne Fortier, president, NSERC; Mario Costa Sousa, associate professor, Faculty of Science; Elizabeth Cannon, president, University of Calgary and John Kendall, general manager, iCore division at AITF. Photo by Riley BrandtBeing able to correctly interpret and analyze complex technical data about oil and natural gas reservoirs is a critical skill for people in the energy industry. University of Calgary researcher Mario Costa Sousa received $3 million in funding from the public and private sectors to continue his work on creating innovative new methods that will give oil and gas industry experts access to accurate and easy-to-interpret visual representations of reservoirs from multiple platforms, including mobile devices.

“Interactive visualization lets the user visually explore, analyze and interpret large, complex reservoir datasets and results at every stage of the oil and gas exploration and production cycle,” says Costa Sousa, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science. “With quick visual information, you can explore various ideas and scenarios more rapidly and effectively, which means better decisions are made, technologically as well as environmentally and economically.”

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada has committed funds of $1,061,238, with Alberta Innovates Technology Futures and Foundation CMG contributing $1,250, 000 each to Costa Sousa’s NSERC/AITF/Foundation CMG Industrial Research Chair in Scalable Reservoir Engineering.

“In Canada, we strive to strike the balance between developing our natural resources and minimizing the impact those developments have on the environment. To do so successfully, we turn to one of the world’s pioneers of computer visualization to create a component of the technologies that help us strike this balance,” said NSERC President Suzanne Fortier. “Mario Costa Sousa’s research will allow companies to accurately and efficiently determine the characteristics of oil and natural gas reservoirs deep underground. The visualization technologies developed will provide valuable new tools for energy resource exploration that will benefit the entire industry.”

Computer virtualization. Photo by Riley BrandtDeveloping computer virtualization to better interpret oil and gas data. Photo by Riley BrandtCosta Sousa’s research will ultimately influence decision-making that will benefit the environment and the bottom line of companies in Calgary and around the world.

"The focus of the University of Calgary's Research Plan is to support discovery, creativity and innovation across our multidisciplinary research themes — one of which is energy innovations for today and tomorrow," says President Elizabeth Cannon. "This NSERC recognition is a testament to Costa Sousa's innovative work, which has the potential to deliver tangible, lasting environmental and economic benefits for the global energy exploration industry."

Costa Sousa also leads the IllustraRes/Interactive Reservoir Modeling and Visualization (iRMV) research group in the Department of Computer Science, and works with the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and the Department of Geoscience in various visualization projects.