Welcome to a double issue of the [RG]2 Quarterly Newsletter, covering January through June 2020. From within CoVID-19 lockdown, our team has continued their exemplary research working both from home and in the lab, and we are excited to share with you what we have been up to. This double-issue includes all the regular updates, as well as a feature article by Amir H. Haghi, PhD and a special section on how we have begun implementing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion training for all members of our group. We hope you enjoy!
On behalf of our sponsors, we are very pleased to announce the launching of the NSERC/Energi Simulation Industrial Research Consortium on Reservoir Geomechanics from 2019 to 2025.
The establishment of the NSERC/Energi Simulation Industrial Research Consortium on Reservoir Geomechanics will benefit industry through the continued development of a highly skilled research centre focused on their needs and the training of highly qualified personnel to fill key technical positions and transfer technology directly into these organizations. Our research projects are embedded within five fully integrated themes and are motivated by the growing recognition that assumptions of uniformity at certain scales are inadequate for extrapolating fluid behavior, both temporally and spatially, and are exploring how geomechanical processes influence this multi-scale fluid behavior. Our research outcomes are focused on informing the increasingly complex inter-relationships between reservoir engineering and geomechanical engineering, from pore to reservoir to field scale and remain targeted at the challenges associated with the sustainable development of shale/tight oil & gas resources and the challenges linked to in situ thermal recovery processes in oil sands.
In addition to the invaluable contributions from our industry sponsors, this consortium is supported by an NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Reservoir Geomechanics awarded to Dr. Chalaturnyk, an NSERC Collaborative Research and Development award and the continued support by Energi Simulation, including their establishment of the Energi Simulation Endowment for Reservoir Geomechanics research at the University of Alberta.
The research program continues to benefit from our four unique GeoInnovation Environments; an expanded GeoREF (Geomechanical Reservoir Experimental Facility), GeoCERF (Geotechnical Centrifuge Experimental Research Facility), GeoPRINT (a facility for 3D Printing of Geological Media for Reservoir Geomechanics), and GeoRMT (Geomechanical Reservoir Modelling Technology).
The Reservoir Geomechanics Research Group is very pleased to announce that we have received funding for both the NSERC/Energi Simulation Collaborative Research and Development Consortium on Reservoir Geomechanics and the NSERC/Energy Simulation NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Reservoir Geomechanics. We have already begun recruiting new HQP to help drive this exciting new research forward, and look forward to the creative and intellectual challenges this opportunity provides.
[RG]2's CoVID-19 Response
With classes being held online in September and research activity restrictions that will continue indefinitely on campus, we are extremely proud of the progress that our researchers are still making despite this challenging situation. Like most research groups at the University of Alberta, the majority of our staff and students continue working from home. We have only a handful of students and staff still working in our GeoInnovation Centres, and their safety has been our priority. In addition to implementing important hygiene protocols and providing additional mandatory PPE for unavoidable person-to-person contact, we have adopted a staggered work schedule to minimize interactions and maintain social distancing. After a special workshop on proper donning and doffing techniques for masks and gloves held in April, Dr. Chalaturnyk generously purchased and distributed reusable masks for member of [RG]2 and their families.
With classes being held online in September and research activity restrictions that will continue indefinitely on campus, we are extremely proud of the progress that our researchers are still making despite this challenging situation.
In the Lab
Angel Sanchez, one of our PhD students, has continued working in the lab. Natural rocks can be heterogeneous due to complex diagenetic processes that affect mineralogy and pore architecture. 3D-printing rock analogs in sand is a promising alternative for experimental testing that can be used to calibrate variables during geotechnical testing. While 3D-printed sand is a homogeneous material, the parameters for creating grain packing and pore infill can be tuned to mimic specific geomechanical and transport properties. Initially, 3D-printed specimens have a low density due to a loose distribution of grains. Efforts at increasing the density through incorporating a roller in the printing process to compact individual layers is being employed along with introduction of a more heterogeneous sand mixture that encompasses a wide range of grain-size distributions.
The timing couldn't actually be any better for us to once again start up our webinars! We look forward to sending out the schedule in the coming weeks so that members of [RG]2 have an opportunity to share their research and receive vital feedback and collaboration from both their peers and Industry.
Noga Vaisblat, who successfully completed her PhD examination in April, will be continuing on with [RG]2, bringing her expertise and experience to a Post Doctoral Fellowship looking into is the SILC (short impact load cell) originating from Queensland University, Australia and adjusting it in a way that will enable us to explore the geomechanical properties of rotary drill cuttings, potentially on the drilling rig. Additionally, she will be involved with the reservoir characterization of the Deadwood Formation (Aquistore project) being investigated for CO2 storage and our NWMO project, which at the moment involves mostly learning and listening prior to moving into the lab. Congratulations, and welcome back!