New EERC Employee: Dr. Jose Torres

The EERC is pleased to welcome Dr. José Torres to the Reservoir Engineering Group. As a Senior Reservoir Engineer – Unconventional Reservoirs, José works to resolve the advanced challenges of unconventional reservoirs related to production mechanisms and CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in tight reservoir rocks, CO2 storage, high-volume brine disposal, and advanced reservoir-monitoring techniques.

José’s areas of expertise include reservoir simulation, production mechanisms and EOR for unconventional reservoirs, fluid flow in porous media, and thermodynamics of reservoir fluids.  He is particularly interested in the technology development of oil recovery and carbon sequestration processes.

José earned his Ph.D. degree in Chemical and Process Engineering from Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain, and his Reservoir Engineering Specialist and Chemical Engineer degrees from Universidad Simόn Bolίvar in Caracas, Venezuela.

José comes to the EERC from ConocoPhillips in Houston, Texas, where he served as a Senior Reservoir Engineer/Technology Engineer for conducting and supervising original research projects to improve the understanding of production from unconventional reservoirs, interpreting physical phenomena involved in fluid flow in porous media, and conceptualizing mathematical models and designing algorithms for reservoir performance evaluation. Previously, José held the position of Research Engineer at the applied research unit “Open and Experimental Centre for Heavy Oil,” a partnership between Adera and the University of Pau, France, sponsored by TOTAL. There, he developed simulation workflows and numerical studies to improve the understanding of novel recovery processes.

New EERC Employee: Amanda Livers

The EERC would like to welcome Amanda Livers to the Geophysics team. As a Research Scientist in Geophysics, she analyzes the subsurface using geophysical methods and performs advanced processing and interpretation of geophysical data collected in the field. She assists clients in oil and gas development and geologic CO2 storage by providing new ways to view the geology between wells or where there are no wells.

Amanda’s principal areas of interest and expertise include detection and monitoring of near-surface environmental and engineering hazards by developing novel geophysical processing methods and designing specialized data acquisition surveys. She has deployed and been an operator for several large-scale seismic data acquisition surveys, including a semipermanent autonomous seismic array deployed to monitor the migration of injected CO2 through the subsurface.

Amanda holds an M.S. degree in Geology from the University of Kansas and a B.A. in Physics from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota.

“My interest in geology was fostered by hiking with my mom in the North Dakota badlands and being exposed to all the mesmerizing outcrops,” explained Amanda, who is originally from Sidney, Montana. “Geophysics is an avenue that allows me to apply my love of physics and math to understanding subsurface geology and addressing environmental and engineering hazards.”

Amanda says that her work at the EERC gives her the opportunity to work on novel geophysics research projects and to implement new geophysical data collection and processing methods. She says she appreciates having access to a large variety of industry software packages through the EERC and the numerous projects that involve cutting-edge geophysics research.

Also, since her work in the field often takes her out to western North Dakota and eastern Montana, Amanda says she likes that working for the EERC allows her to work and live close to family. Amanda is engaged to a law enforcement officer. When she’s not working, her hobbies include playing and coaching hockey. She also enjoys hunting and fishing.

EERC Wins Prestigious 2015 API Achievement Award

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) was awarded the American Petroleum Institute (API) Achievement Award by the Williston Basin Chapter of API for accomplishments and positive contributions to the oil and gas industry throughout the Williston Basin.

The EERC received the award during the API Williston Basin Chapter’s annual awards banquet in Williston, North Dakota, in mid-November. In attendance were Senator John Hoeven, Congressman Kevin Cramer, Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley, State Board of Higher Education Chair Kathleen Neset, and many other dignitaries.

The Williston API Achievement Awards highlight the achievements of companies and individuals whose tireless work, innovative solutions, varied business activities, and community involvement produce the energy and economic activity that fuel our communities and country.

The EERC won in the Industry Innovation category, which recognizes significant achievement for advancements in technology, systems, processes, and their application in the oil and gas industry in the Williston Basin. Innovative technologies and processes have led not only to the development of oil and gas resources in the Williston Basin but have also provided solutions to associated challenges such as reducing gas flaring, controlling dust, reducing truck traffic, increasing recovery percentage, and more.

API’s granting of this award provides a venue for showcasing these innovations and the dedicated companies and professionals who contribute to the continued growth and prosperity of our industry and communities.

“We are very honored to have received this prestigious award and sincerely thank the Williston API Chapter for acknowledging the impact our oil and gas programs have on the Williston Basin,” said EERC Vice President for Research Ed Steadman. “We would not have received this award without our industry partners and the hard work, daily diligence, and personal commitment of our amazing team—it is our honor and privilege to work alongside each of them every day,” he said.

Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, JohnHarju, was also nominated for Outstanding Achievement – Individual Award. For more information, visit

EERC Begins Testing New Technology to Improve Safety of Nation’s Pipelines

Photo courtesy
The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota (UND), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), has begun working on a project to help improve the safety of the nation’s energy transportation pipelines.

DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) awarded a total of $2 million to 11 different institutions through its Competitive Academic Agreement Program (CAAP), which more than doubles the amount that was awarded last year.

“The CAAP Program pays for critical research into safety technologies and mechanisms that could improve safety throughout the entire pipeline sector,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a recent press release. “These investments have contributed to new pipeline technologies that are being used across the country to improve pipeline safety.”

The EERC’s specific project involves evaluating the potential for using specially engineered metal foil to facilitate locating plastic pipelines once buried underground. According to PHMSA, over 69% of the nation’s 2.149 million miles of natural gas distribution pipelines are plastic, and unlike metal piping, plastic pipes have no intrinsic electrical or magnetic properties that can be used to accurately locate them once buried. As a result, accidental excavation damage is the leading cause of reportable incidents for natural gas pipelines.

“These foils have unique material properties that we will use to our advantage to add a detectable signature to plastic pipes while using the least quantity and cost of added material,” said Chris Martin, Senior Research Engineer, Advanced Thermal Systems. “If successful, the resulting signature will be as strong as with conventional pipe, which would make the technology compatible with commercially available locating equipment.”

Martin says the EERC will also examine the commercial potential for this pipeline locating system, looking at added cost, pipe integration, and potential value-added features such as a unique identification pattern.

The $125,000 project is being conducted in partnership with Metglas, Inc., Conway, South Carolina, the world leader in amorphous metal foil production.

In addition to stimulating innovative research, CAAP promotes the involvement of student researchers to illustrate how their engineering or technical disciplines are highly needed in the field of pipeline safety. As part of its project, the EERC will also recruit and hire a UND student to be integrally involved with the experimental data collection and the larger concept evaluation.

“The pipeline infrastructure in the United States is key to our standard of living. It’s very important that pipes are safely maintained and appropriately expanded to sustain increasing demand,” said EERC CEO Tom Erickson. “Research such as this plays a key role in making national, regional, and local pipelines safer and more environmentally friendly.”

The EERC recently completed a comprehensive study of the oil and produced water gathering pipeline network in North Dakota. The intent of the study is to improve the performance of produced water and crude oil pipelines in North Dakota, with the purpose of supporting the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s decisions regarding possible adoption of administrative rules impacting pipeline safety and integrity.

View the complete study here.

Newer, Faster Seismic Monitoring Technology to Verify CO2 Distribution

The EERC is testing a new seismic method for detecting and tracking the carbon dioxide (CO2) injected into oil reservoirs to increase oil production through enhanced oil recovery. By monitoring for physical changes occurring at specific points within a reservoir related to the passing of a CO2 plume, the proof-of-concept technology may provide engineers with useful information about where CO2 is moving in a more timely manner than traditional methods.

A seismic source (left picture) at a fixed location periodically sends sonic waves into the subsurface. Reflected energy from the reservoir and other geologic layers returns to an array of separate surface receivers and is recorded for analysis. During injection, as the CO2 plume moves through the formation past monitored reflection points, the recorded waveforms from the reservoir reflection should exhibit detectable changes, providing a means of determining when the CO2 plume has moved past the monitored reflection points.

A total of 96 seismic recorders with three-component geophones are being deployed for this test. Each unit is battery-powered and can operate autonomously for up to 60 days with a minimal environmental footprint. The complete array of receivers offers great flexibility in deploying, removing, and servicing the units.

Conventional seismic monitoring methods can provide excellent interpretive results to locate pressure fronts and gas plumes. However, they have some challenges, including high operation costs, large impacts to the survey area because of the great number of receiver locations and source locations required, and long time lapses between surveys.

To address these issues, the EERC method employs a sparse array of strategically placed receivers in conjunction with a single seismic source location. Over the course of a year, the source will be remotely operated at weekly intervals, and a series of time-lapse records from monitored reflection points will be collected and processed monthly. Simple processing allows for a fast turnaround of results. The ability to recognize and act on changes observed to be occurring in the reservoir in near real time is anticipated to offer a significant improvement compared to traditional time-lapse seismic methods. The potential exists for both data collection and processing to eventually be automated for even greater efficiencies.

New Web Site – Household Energy and Carbon Footprint

In the wake of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21), the world continues to focus on global climate change. Nations continue to contemplate ways to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and that means that carbon from energy will have to be part of the discussion. But what does that mean to everyday life?

To help answer that, the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) has developed the Household Energy and Carbon Footprint Web site aimed at helping households become familiar with the energy integrated into their daily lives, including 1) where energy comes from, 2) how they use it, and 3) how it affects their household “carbon footprint.”

Visitors can navigate through the energy pathway from source through processing, delivery and, finally, to private homes. Visitors are then invited to calculate their own carbon footprint and consider actions. Video clips and tool tips help convey the story. The Web site is funded in part by the North Dakota Department of Commerce Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

It was developed for North Dakota households, but the site’s calculators and basic information apply to households across the United States.

“It’s important for people to know where their energy comes from and what that means with respect to carbon emissions,” said Dan Daly, EERC Senior Geologist and the Web site project manager.  

EERC Hosts Partnership Summit to Energize the Future of Energy in ND

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), a worldwide leader in the development of solutions to energy and environmental challenges, today is hosting a partnership summit “Energizing North Dakota’s Future: Realizing the Vision,” designed to focus on the steps toward charting a positive course for the future of the energy industry in North Dakota.

“I believe that the energy industry in the state is at a crossroads,” said EERC CEO Tom Erickson. “We are at once faced with some of the biggest challenges and greatest opportunities in North Dakota history. This is an opportunity to stand with our partners in the industry to face the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities together, in order to collaboratively develop the technologies and strategies to ensure a bright future for our state.”

The summit brings together experts from all energy sectors, along with legislators and state officials to discuss an action plan for the upcoming year. The agenda includes keynote speaker Charles “Chuck” McConnell, Executive Director of Rice University’s Energy and Environment Initiative and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy.
Two panels highlighting key challenges and opportunities facing the energy industry feature the following presenters: Jason Bohrer, President, Lignite Energy Council; Ron Ness, President, North Dakota Petroleum Council; Scott Stone, Counsel, Hunton & Williams LLP; Scott Wehner, Chief Science Officer, Denbury Resources, Inc.; Robert “Mac” McLennan, President and CEO, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Inc.; and Kathy Neset, President, Neset Consulting Service.

Erickson concluded, “The reality of North Dakota’s energy picture is that it will take the cooperation and teaming of all industry, government, and public sectors to sustain our strength and expand our growth. Coal, oil and gas, and renewables must all play a role in a secure and balanced energy strategy.”

The event concludes with partnership networking events in the afternoon and evening.