PhD Position High-Resolution Modelling and Simulations of Low-carbon Geoenergy Applications

Updated: 18 days ago
Deadline: 29 Mar 2024

Would you like to join an interdisciplinary team that combines geoscience, reservoir engineering, and social science to enable the sustainable development of low-carbon geoenergy applications?

Geological reservoirs used for producing or storing energy are heterogeneous. Characterising and quantifying geological heterogeneities is challenging because sampling scales (e.g., plugs, cores) are different from the scales where petrophysical properties need to be defined (i.e., the grid block in a reservoir model). This gives rise to major uncertainties, especially in heterogeneous formations such as the Rotliegend of the Netherlands, because reservoir models are used to investigate how geological heterogeneities impact production rates and production risks. A fundamental challenge is that current reservoir modelling workflows almost always underestimate geological heterogeneity and hence provide unrealistic uncertainty bounds. The unique database of the Groningen Rotliegend reservoir in the Netherlands provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop an efficient and scientifically-based methodology that allows us to represent the key geological heterogeneities in reservoir models through geologically-informed upscaling and better constrain uncertainties in model predictions. Such advanced geoscience research will enable us to execute future geoenergy projects safely and sustainably, and is needed to earn trust among different stakeholders and societal actors. The CrossScale project, which is part of the DeepNL programme funded by the Dutch Research Council, hence aims to bridge across scales and disciplines to develop a new upscaling methodology for better reservoir models and provide a new deliberation approach that improves the communication between scientists and societal stakeholders.

In this PhD project you will build advanced reservoir models needed for developing new upscaling methods and validating REV scales for geomechanical and fluid flow properties. This will result in an ensemble of high-resolution models (i.e., with millions of grid cells) that preserve the sedimentological and diagenetic heterogeneities identified for the Dutch Rotliegend. These models will be built in the Rapid Reservoir Modelling software, a unique reservoir modelling environment that allows us to construct realistic and high-resolution 3D reservoir models in a matter of minutes. The models will be built at the inter-well scale and will be subjected to coupled flow and geomechanical simulations using the state-of-the-art and open source reservoir simulators DARTS and the Matlab Reservoir Simulation Toobox. You will simulate coupled single-phase flow with geomechanics and two-phase flow processes relevant to CO2 and/or H2 storage. Based on these flow simulations and the result from the REV scale analysis, upscaling methods for coupled flow and geomechanical properties will be proposed. You will hence be able to answer the following research questions:

  • How can the REV scales be integrated into an upscaling methodology to improve the prediction of flow and geomechanical behaviours of the Rotliegend?
  • What are the key geological heterogeneities that need to be characterised to define REV scales and execute upscaling methods reliably for other geoenergy applications in the Rotliegend?
  • How will uncertainty bounds estimated from reservoir models of the Rotliegend change if reservoir modelling utilises new upscaling methods and REV scales?
  • Please check also the other PhD position in this project at University of Groningen and read more about DeepNL .

    The successful applicant project will hold a relevant MSc degree in applied geology, hydrogeology, or reservoir engineering. Ideally, this candidate will already be able to contribute some experience in integrating geoscience with fluid flow modelling or have a basic knowledge in simulating fluid flow and geomechanical processes in geological formations. Experience in upscaling or uncertainty quantification is also welcomed.

    Due to the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the CrossScale project that bridges across geoscience, reservoir engineering, and social sciences, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the desire to work in a diverse and interdisciplinary environment, are an essential requirement. The candidate should also have sound quantitative approach to subsurface geoscience challenges and bring some programming experience (e.g., Python).

    Are you enthusiastic about utilising the subsurface to accelerate the energy transition? Do you have a strong background in geology, hydrogeology, or reservoir engineering and feel that you are a good match for the position but cannot yet tick all the boxes? Then please still get in touch as we would like to hear from you and explore how you can learn and grow in this position.

    Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements .

    Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

    Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

    The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

    For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

    Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

    At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

    Challenge. Change. Impact!

    The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

    Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

    This PhD project will be based at the Department of Geoscience and Engineering at TU Delft. You will join the friendly and interdisciplinary CrossScale research team, comprising academics from the Faculty of Technology, Management, and Policy at TU Delft and from the University of Groningen as well. As part of this project, you will also have the opportunity to collaborate with research institutions in the UK and Norway. If flow and geomechanical modelling are not your core expertise, you may want to look at the partner PhD project at the University of Groningen which focuses on the quantitative reservoir characterisation of the geological heterogeneities of the Dutch Rotliegends.

    We are acutely aware that we are a diverse society and not every talented student will have had the same opportunities to advance their careers. We therefore pledge to fully account for any particular circumstances that the applicants disclose (e.g. parental leave, caring duties, part-time jobs to support studies, disabilities etc.) to ensure an inclusive and fair recruitment process that does not rely purely on common research metrics.

    Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply no later than 29 March 2024 via the application button. We are looking forward to receiving your CV, motivation statement, degree certifcates/transcripts, and contact details for two referees as part of your application. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to at least one formal interview, to be held in person or online.

    For further information please contact Sebastian Geiger ([email protected] )

    • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
    • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
    • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.


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