Aug. 12, 2020

Industry award recognizes sustainability and stewardship of energy researcher

Society of Petroleum Engineers honours Steven Bryant’s outstanding accomplishments in sustainable oil and gas development

An international petroleum industry association is honouring one of the University of Calgary’s most senior oil and gas researchers. Dr. Steven Bryant, PhD, is recognized for the difference he’s making in the oil and gas world including developing technologies to fight climate change.

UCalgary’s first Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Material Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs, Bryant was awarded the Society of Petroleum Engineers Regional Sustainability and Stewardship in the Oil and Gas Industry Award for 2020. The award acknowledges outstanding contributions to the area of sustainability in the Canada Region and Bryant’s accomplishments in energy research.

A professor in chemical and petroleum engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering, Bryant, pictured above, also leads an interdisciplinary research team that specializes in finding solutions in sustainable oil and gas development, such as using carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). With the application of these technologies in oil and gas production and reservoir engineering, they are creating viable options to combat climate change.

“There are two ways to approach the problem. One is avoiding emissions — carbon capture at facilities burning fossil fuel or switching to clean energy production methods. Two is through negative emissions — pulling the CO2 out of the atmosphere,” says Bryant. “By combining these methods, we can bend the CO2 curve.”

Bryant reimagines hydrocarbon resource benefits

To accomplish this task, Bryant brings his knowledge in the fields of nanotechnology, novel materials and microbiology to reimagine how society can benefit from hydrocarbon resources. One of the key methods is through sequestration, or the practice of underground storage of carbon dioxide. To efficiently do so, the CERC team is developing technologies to stabilize CO2 into a foam by combining nanoparticles and surfactants. This method has the potential to increase the usable pore space for storage in deep saline aquifers, and greatly reduce water usage in oilfield production operations

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Steven Bryant works with researchers in the CERC lab.

Adrian Shellard, for the University of Calgary

The CERC office also factors sustainability into their everyday business operations, and was a runner-up in this year’s UCalgary Sustainability Awards, earning two Sustainable Offices badges. Both initiatives are guided by the Institutional Sustainability Strategy, which aims to promote the University of Calgary as a national leader in sustainability research and education.

“We need to do things differently,” says Bryant. “At UCalgary, we are always rethinking and testing new technologies. Sustainability calls for advancing technologies that are socially desirable, because those are the ones that get put into action the fastest, and fast action is essential for a meaningful response to climate change.”