Cra[to] Lab – ‘Linking micro & macro scale deformation features with experimental and modelling techniques for fractured carbonate reservoirs & beyond”
Dr Stephanie Zihms, Postdoctoral Research Associate (Institute of Petroleum Engineering), has successfully secured a grant of £12000 from the Royal Academy of Engineering Newton Research Collaboration Programme to support the Cra[to] Lab.
I just signed my permanent position at Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), as professor of structural geology. I’m visiting Heriot-Watt during February to April, to assist in the project. Following this initial period in Edinburgh, Dr Zihms will in turn visit UFPE for 3 months from May to complete the project.
Approximately 60% of the world’s oil and gas reserves are trapped in carbonate reservoirs. Laminites from the Crato Formation (Cfm) (NE Brazil) have been identified as analogues for the massive Brazilian pre-salt oil reservoirs but they are also relevant to local water supply. The aim of this project is to link micro-scale deformation features observed in the laboratory with macro- and micro outcrop features observed in Cfm laminites. This will increase understanding of deformation mechanisms, control factors at various scales, and their relationships. This is important to improve reservoir rock behaviour predictions e.g. for the petroleum production cycle or different stages of water reservoir conditions (rainy season vs drought). It is also relevant to other energy applications such as geothermal energy production or Carbon Capture & Storage. Deformation experiments performed on Cfm laminite samples using parameters linked to different oil field and fresh water aquifer conditions. This will be combined with pre- and post-deformation x-ray tomography imaging to allow for 3D reconstruction of the deformation features, and potentially calculation of the strain state that was created. The experimental outputs will characterise deformation and conditions under which it formed, which will allow generalisations and projections to other sets of subsurface conditions. Data and samples collected during fieldwork in the Cfm in NE Brazil will be compared with micro- and macro-scale features. Relationships identified will be catalogued as deformation features and control factors for the Cfm laminite. This catalogue will be made available to the researcher e.g. for further upscaling of features, to help improve reservoir modelling, or to predict rock behaviour at field scale. It will also help to identify features that are not possible to upscale e.g. fracture aperture, however this project will increase the understanding of upscaling factors related to these features.
About the fund
The Newton Research Collaboration Programme is a component of the UK Government supported Newton Fund which aims to develop science and innovation partnerships to promote the economic development and social welfare of developing countries.