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XFEM Ph.D. Position Computational Mechanics Reservoir Modelling Collaboration with Industry, Schlumberger

PhD available at the University of Glasgow entitled ‘Numerical Simulation of Fault Evolution in Oil Reservoirs’ 

EPSRC Case Award with Schlumberger - £15,500 per annum + fees. 

There is considerable industrial interest in assessing the mechanical and hydraulic evolution of faults/fractures for the purpose of oil and gas production, deep well injection of waste liquids, underground storage of natural gas, CO2 sequestration and disposal of radioactive waste. Estimates of fault permeability can range over several orders of magnitude for a single location, consequently, the hydraulic behaviour of faults can form one of the greatest components of uncertainty in cost benefit analyses and risk assessments in these industries.  

In hydrocarbon reservoirs, faults and fractures in rocks result in discontinuities in the displacement and strain fields during production and injection schedules.  Standard Finite Element techniques have difficulty capturing accurately these discontinuities.  Recently, a technique known as the Extended Finite Element Method (XFEM) has been developed to more accurately model such discontinuities. This PhD will further develop the XFEM to simulate 3D mechanical fracture/fault propagation. The development of an XFEM tool for mechanical fracture/fault evolution has significant industrial potential; particularly within the hydrocarbon industry where it could lead to improved predictions for porosity/permeability changes in coupled geomechanical reservoirs. 

The PhD project will be carried out in close collaboration with Schlumberger. It is expected that the student will be hosted at Schlumberger for part of the Ph.D. This industrial secondment will provide a unique opportunity to meet and work with world leaders in oil and gas reservoir simulation. The research will be comprised of a balanced share of fundamental, academically relevant research and applied, practical application. The successful candidate will have equally good chances to take this experience forward to industry or academia. 

The primary supervisor, Dr Stephane Bordas is an acknowledged expert in modelling evolving discontinuities and singularities in continuum media ( The research will be co-supervised by Dr Rebecca Lunn (Civil Engineering, Strathclyde) and Dr Zoe Shipton (Geographical and Earth Sciences, Glasgow) and be in close collaboration with their joint research group ‘Faults and Fluid Flow’ ( This collaboration will provide the project with true interdisciplinarity, wider industrial contacts and expert input from structural geologists and geophysical modellers.  

The ideal candidate will be a motivated individual with an upper second or first class degree in Mathematics, Geophysics, Physics, Engineering or Computer Science, who has the necessary qualities and drive to join an internationally recognised interdisciplinary research group team.

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