Over a three-week period at the end of 2010, the largest research-led knowledge exchange event to date in the School of Environmental Sciences took place in South Africa, involving scientists from all continents.
Professor Steve Flint and Dr David Hodgson are joint principal investigators on three large research projects, all funded by the global oil industry and involving collaboration with international universities. The research examines how sand grains from rivers are transported to deep ocean basins to form sea fans which may contain oil and gas reservoirs.
Funded by 16 global oil companies, the projects involve studies in the Karoo area of South Africa, an ancient sea floor that through tectonic uplift has formed hundreds of kilometres of rock cliffs and a rare ‘field laboratory’ in which Liverpool staff and students have been working for more than 10 years.
The team is gathering information about how deep sea reservoirs are formed, which enables them to predict a potential reservoir’s structure, quality and flow performance. Each of the three projects includes a one-week annual field workshop in the Karoo, in which the latest results, interpretations and ideas are presented to scientists from the sponsor companies.
Professor Steve Flint said: “The world has to move away from fossil fuels, but while that transition happens, switching the majority of oil use to natural gas will reduce carbon emissions by 30% and by 45% where gas replaces coal.
“The results of these three projects will help in the effective development of large gas reservoirs around the world, which will begin to reduce our dependence on oil and coal.”
The information is being used worldwide by industrial partners to guide oil and gas field development models and reduce the cost and risk of developing reservoirs.