Roberto Aguilera, PhD, PEng
Schulich School of Engineering, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
BSc Petroleum Engineering, Universidad de America (Colombia), 1968
MEng Petroleum Engineering, Colorado School of Mines (USA), 1971
PhD Petroleum Engineering, Colorado School of Mines (USA), 1976
Dr. Roberto Aguilera is professor of petroleum engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. He is the 2019 recipient of the international SPE Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty, the 2021 recipient of the international SPE Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award, past Executive Editor of the SPE Journal, an SPE Distinguished Lecturer for the 2000-2001 season discussing Naturally Fractured Reservoirs, a member of the SPE Legion of Honor and an SPE Lifetime member.
Dr. Aguilera's research concentrates on Naturally fractured and Unconventional Reservoirs worldwide. He is the creator and Principal Investigator of the GFREE research program. GFREE stands for an integrated multidisciplinary team researching geoscience (G), formation evaluation (F), reservoir drilling, completion and stimulation (R), reservoir engineering (RE), and economics and externalities (EE).
He has rendered consulting and/or training services in more than 50 countries worldwide through his firm Servipetrol Ltd. He holds a BS from the Universidad de America (Bogota, Colombia), and MEng and PhD degrees from the Colorado School of Mines (United States), all in Petroleum Engineering.
Areas of Research
My overall research interest lies on improving economically oil and gas rates and ultimate recoveries from naturally fractured, tight and shale petroleum reservoirs in a manner that is friendly with society and the environment. Petroleum as used here refers to oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids.
To this end, we are conducting target-oriented research, acting rather than reacting, in the areas of petrophysics, Huff and Puff gas injection, numerical simulation, CO2 utilization and storage, and machine learning.
Key to success in this endeavor is the concept of "geologic containment" developed and published by past and present members of our GFREE research group. Details on our research are presented below under the heading "Projects."
Canadian, USA and World Patents on hydraulic fracturing and methods to improve oil recovery from low permeability formations, where some of my students, some industry colleagues and I are the inventors, are presented below under the heading "More Information."
I supervise currently the following students (the degrees the students are pursuing are in brackets): Alfonso Fragoso Amaya (PhD), Rahimah Abd Karim (PhD), Cristhian Aranguren Silva (PhD), Xiaolin Bao (PhD), Claudia Herrera Tellez (MSc), Sandy Morales Zurita (MSc), Juan Carlos Arevalo Lizarazo (MEng). I co-supervise the following students: Raya Matoorian (PhD), Robert Lee (PhD, Geology).
Participation in university strategic initiatives
|Course number||Course title||Semester|
|ENCH 649||Naturally Fractured Reservoirs||Winter 2022|
|ENPE 573 and ENCH 619.48||Tight Oil and Unconventional Gas Exploitation||Winter 2022|
|ENPE 543||Geological Characterization of Oil and Gas Reservoirs||Fall 2021|
|ENPE 623||Reservoir Analysis and Description||Fall 2021|
|ENCH 649||Naturally Fractured Reservoirs||Winter 2021|
|ENPE 543||Geological Characterization of Oil and Gas Reservoirs||Fall 2020|
|ENPE 623||Reservoir Analysis and Description||Winter 2020|
Primary oil recovery from shale reservoirs is generally reported to range between 5 and 10% of the original oil in place (OOIP). The target-oriented goal of our GFREE research group concentrates on finding means to improve economically those recoveries to reach more than 20%. Our preliminary work with H&P gas injection through horizontal wells with hydraulic fractures implemented properly indicates that our 20%+ recovery goal is achievable.
The "geologic containment" concept introduced and published by members of our GFREE research group is critical for attaining the 20%+ oil recovery by H&P. The basic principles are explained in the attached file GFREE Geologic Containment Theory.
Petroleum as used in the title of this research project refers to oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids. The GFREE goal is to improve our multi-porosity petrophysical models with a view to increase economic recoveries from naturally fractured, tight and shale reservoirs. Fractured apertures in these types of reservoirs are determined, for example, from micro-images, cores, thin sections and outcrops, and are integrated using a Variable Shape Distribution (VSD) model. Fracture apertures vary widely and we use a universal classification developed by members of the GFREE team that covers the full spectrum of fracture widths found in petroleum reservoirs. This classification is as follows: megafractures (> 10mm), macrofractures (1 to 10 mm), mesofractures (0.1 to 1 mm), microfractures (0.1 to 0.01 mm) and nanofractures (< 0.01 mm).
The GFREE petrophysics goal is to use machine learning for evaluating multi-porosity naturally fractured, tight and shale petroleum reservoirs.
For primary recovery we are researching a Sequence-to-Sequence (Seq2Seq) Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) for oil production forecast of shale reservoirs
We are also developing a deep reinforcement learning (DRL) approach to solve the economic optimization problem during H&P gas injection.
This project conforms to an important part of CCUS. The GFREE idea is to utilize CO2 during H&P for improving oil recovery from shale reservoirs. Our hypothesis is that under the "geologic containment" concept introduced and published by members of our research group, H&P CO2 injection not only will increases the ultimate economic oil recovery to more than 20% but will also permit safe storage of CO2 without leaks at the end of the H&P gas injection project.
The initial stage of this project was completed with the construction of GFREE-SIM that was already published in the peer review literature. Current research focuses on integrating GFREE-SIM with geomechanics for investigating improved H&P oil recovery techniques in shale petroleum reservoirs
- SPE Life Member, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). 2021
- International Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). 2021
- International Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). 2019
- SPE Legion of Honor, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). 2018
- Award of the Year for Academic Innovation in the Hydrocarbon Sector, Colombian Association of Petroleum Engineers (ACIPET). 2015
- SPE Canada Regional Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). 2011
- Guest Professor China University of petroleum, China University of Petroleum (Huadong). 2011
- Dr. R. M. Butler Memorial Best Paper Presented at the CIPC 2009 Canadian International Petroleum Conference Award (First Runner Up), Petroleum Society of Canada. 2009
- Dr. R. M. Butler Memorial Best Paper Presented at the 2008 Canadian International Petroleum Conference Award (tie), Petroleum Society of Canada. 2008
- Distinguished Service Award, Petroleum Society of CIM. 2006
- SPE Distinguished Lecturer on the subject of "Naturally Fractured Reservoirs", Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). 2000
- Distinguished Author, Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology. 1999
- Outstanding Service Award, Petroleum Society of CIM. 1994
- Distinguished Author, Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology. 1993
- Distinguished Service Award, Petroleum Society of CIM. 1992
- Naturally Fractured Reservoirs. Roberto Aguilera. PennWell Publishing Company (1st Edition 1980, 2nd edition 1995). 1st Edition 703 pages, 2nd Edtion 521 pages. (1995)
- Knudsen’s permeability correction for tight porous media. Ali Ziarani and Roberto Aguilera. Transport in Porous Media. 239-260. (2011)
- Flow units: From conventional to tight-gas to shale-gas to tight-oil to shale-oil reservoirs. Roberto Aguilera. SPE Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering. 190-208. (2014)
- Modeling fractured horizontal wells as dual porosity composite reservoirs-application to tight gas, shale gas and tight oil cases. Imad Brohi, Mehran Pooladi-Darvish and Roberto Aguilera. SPE Western North American Region Meeting, Anchorage, Alaska. 22. (2011)
- Incorporating capillary pressure, pore throat aperture radii, height above free-water table, and Winland r35 values on Pickett plots. Roberto Aguilera. AAPG Bulletin. 605-624. (2002)
- Analysis of naturally fractured reservoirs from conventional well logs. Roberto Aguilera. Journal of Petroleum Technology. 764-772. (1976)
In the News
- AIME-SPE Oral History Program Series Interview. American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers. (2022)
- Meeting New Student. SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE). (2019)
- Introducing SPE Monograph "Unconventional Gas and Tight Oil Exploitation" edited and co-authored by Roberto Aguilera. SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE). (2018)
- World Petroleum Council - Youth Forum: Economics and Externalities (Environment and Society). Katch Kan. (2013)
- Potential of Tight Unconventional Reservoirs: Disputing the 2008 Idea that Oil Reserves were Declining - Part 1. Energy Asia. (2008)
- Potential of Tight Unconventional Reservoirs: Disputing the 2008 Idea of why oil prices were increasing - Part 2. Energy Asia. (2008)
- Potential of Tight Unconventional Reservoirs: Making them economic - Part 3. Energy Asia. (2008)
IMPORTANT WORDS OF ENCOURAMENT AND PATENTS
We have done important research on hydraulic fracturing and reservoir simulation to understand how to improve oil recovery from shale reservoirs through huff and puff gas injection for which we were granted three patents mentioned below.
We were encouraged with our “act rather than react” approach mentioned above under the heading “Research Interest”, when we read an interview by Mr. Seymour Schulich benefactor of the Schulich School of Engineering in June 2019, where he said: “We’ve got a window here and it’s somewhere between 10 and 25 years. If we don’t exploit the legacy this country has been given as the third-largest reserves of oil-and-gas in the world and build schools, hospitals, infrastructure — if we don’t do that, we’re going to lose out.”
Those statements by Mr. Schulich give us significant encouragement to pursue our research with interest.
Our research has led to three patents, where some of my students, some industry colleagues and I were the inventors. The three patents were granted in 2020 and 2021 as follows:
“Method for recovering hydrocarbons from low permeability formations,” (Canadian patent CA 3005370, United States patent US1100884B2 and World patent WO2017083954A1),
“Low pressure fluid injection for recovering hydrocarbon material from low permeability formations,” (United States patent US10648313B2), and
“Methods for hydraulic fracturing,” (Canadian patent CA 3002103, United States patent US1100884B2 and World patent WO2017063073A1),
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