Won Statoil’s research prize for 2010

The prize winner Curtis Hays Whitson together with Morten Loktu (left), Statoil’s head of research, and Margareth Øvrum, executive vice president for Technology & New Energy.

The prize winner Curtis Hays Whitson together with Morten Loktu (left), Statoil’s head of research, and Margareth Øvrum, executive vice president for Technology & New Energy.

Professor Curtis Hays Whitson has been awarded Statoil’s research prize 2010 for his major input to boosting knowledge about recovery of gas and gas condensate fields and improved recovery of oil fields by the use of gas injection.

Consisting of NOK 200,000 and a work of art by Håkon Gullvåg the prize was presented at the Technoport Awards in Trondheim on 23 September by executive vice president for Technology & New Energy Margareth Øvrum.

”This was a very pleasant surprise,” says Curtis Whitson.

He says that he does not usually pay attention to prizes awarded in his field of expertise. ”But when I see the list of former winners, I’m really honoured to be on that list,” he says.

When he is asked whether the research prize is an inspiration to his further work he answers:

”I’ve found inspiration every day since I started as a researcher 30 years ago. Recognition is given in small portions every day at work. Sometimes the work is more clearly recognised, which I highly appreciate,” says professor Whitson.

The prominent researcher came to Norway in the early 1980s. As professor and entrepreneur he has conducted numerous studies for Hydro and Statoil in connection with field implementation of gas injection on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) and internationally, as well as studies related to gas field recovery and phase behaviour of reservoirs.

Several of these studies have been important contributions to enable the company to make the right decisions on implementation for improved recovery, for example in the Sleipner and Oseberg areas in the North Sea and the Åsgard area in the Norwegian Sea.

The NCS is world-famous for its high oil and gas recovery rate. On the Statfjord field more than 70% of all oil in place is expected to be recovered and on the Oseberg field the percentage exceeds 60.

”These figures are exceptionally high on a world-wide basis, and gas injection is essential to many NCS fields,” says Lars Høier, chief researcher in petroleum technology in the Technology & New Energy business area.

When gas is injected correctly in the most suitable field candidates, it could really boost the oil recovery rate. So far, a good 600 billion standard cubic metres of hydrocarbon gas have been injected on the NCS, which resulted in an estimated additional recovery of around 300 million standard cubic metres of oil.

Furthermore, an increasing amount of gas has been discovered in frontier fields on the NCS. Proper knowledge of how to recover gas condensate from reservoirs in an optimal manner is crucial to be able to export large amounts of gas and condensate from these fields to for example Europe.

Major contributions

Curtis Hays Whitson has contributed strongly in both these areas to broaden the knowledge in Norway and in Statoil. He has managed to balance high-level academic research and close cooperation with the petroleum industry.

”Driven by strong curiosity and an eye for quality his research on oil and gas recovery has provided important input and received wide international recognition,” says Høier. “Topics such as fluid understanding, efficient recovery of gas condensate fields and improved recovery by the use of gas injection run like a thread through his work.”

Professor Whitson has published a number of international journals and written educational books. He has received several international recognitions, including the recent Society of Petroleum Engineers’s (SPE) prize Antony F Lucas Technical Leadership Gold Medal 2011.

Curtis Hays Whitson has worked at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) since the mid-80s, and as professor from 1988. He has been a tutor for a large number of master (~100) and PhD (~15) students, of whom many are employed by Statoil today.

Statoil’s research prize for 2010 (facts)

  • Statoil’s research prize was established in 1991. The prize is awarded to a researcher, research group or institution in Norway who have carried out work of significant importance to the company.
  • The prize is awarded as recognition of research results achieved at a high international level. It is intended to be an inspiration and support to further research in discipline areas that Statoil regard as important to its business.
  • Every year, Norwegian universities and research institutes are invited to nominate candidates for the prize.

Former winners of Statoil’s research prize:

2009: Professor Jan Inge Faleide, University of Oslo, for his research on the geological development of the Norwegian Sea, the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

2008: The multiphase group at the Institute for Energy Technology.

2007: Professor Martin Landrø, NTNU, for his research on four-dimensional (4D) seismics.

2006: Professor Johan Sjöblom, NTNU, for his research on crude oil emulsions.

2004: Professor Sveinung Løset, NTNU, for his effort in, and knowledge about, arctic conditions and ice problems.

2003: Professor Bjørn Ursin, NTNU, for his 30-year long research and teaching within petroleum geophysics.

2002: Professor Stig Berge, NTNU, and Doctor Svein Sævik, Marintek, for his many years of developing dynamic risers.

2001: Professor Alf O Brubakk, NTNU, for his many years of research on the area of diving technology and physiological impacts on divers.

2000: Professor Roy Helge Gabrielsen, University of Bergen, for promoting Norwegian petroleum related georesearch internationally through many years.

Source: Statoil

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