Oil and Gas

Principal Investigator

Amilcar Soares (Professor at IST/ULisboa)


CERENA has the competences to encompass most of the oil and gas chain of value, from exploration down to the refining, and has a long tradition of collaboration with oil and gas companies. In the last decade the discoveries of conventional oil and gas, are characterized by a large geological and technological complexity: most discoveries are located in ultra-deep waters , reservoirs with very high pressures , with uneven problems with flow assurance. This is the case of the pre-salt Brazilian reservoirs, sandstones reservoirs of Angola and carbonate gas reservoirs of the Rovuma Basin in Mozambique.

CERENA is the national research institution with larger and more international curriculum in the Oil & Gas area.

The activity of research and development of CMRP is financed mainly by international companies like Partex Oil & Gas, Petrobras, CGG-Compagnie General de Geophysique, ADCO (Abu-Dhabi), Sonangol, Sonangas etc, through research agreements under the format of Joint Industrial Projects. The team was directly involved in coordination, implementation and development of reservoir models in fields of Abu Dhabi, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Angola, Brasil and Mexico. The most recent and relevant projects are:

  • GSI – Global Stochastic Inversion. Tests on Middle East and Brazilian Fields (2006/2007).
  • Characterization of Fracture Fields Conditioned to Production Data (2006/2007).
  • Multi-point statistics for stochastic inversion of seismic (2006/2008).
  • Global Seismic Inversion of a Brazilian field (2007).
  • Fracture Fields Characterization and Geostatistical History Matching  (2008/2010).
  • Geostatistical Elastic Seismic Inversion (2008/2010).
  • Geostatistical history matching: integration of dynamic data in stochastic modeling (2008/2009).
  • Natural Fractured Reservoir Characterization (2008/2009).
  • Modeling and characterization of fractured reservoirs (2010).
  • Integration of Seismic as Soft Data in Oil Reservoirs Characterization (2010).
  • Global Seismic Inversion of an Angolan field (2011).
  • Direct Seismic Inversion of Porosity/Lithofacies (2010/2012).
  • Integration of Geological Uncertainty in History Matching Projects (2011).
  • GEI – Global Elastic Inversion. Tests on Middle East and Brazilian Fields (2012).
  • Geomechanical Modelling of Petroleum Reservoirs. (2012-2014).
  • Application of Geostatistical Elastic Inversion to a field of Oman. (2011-2012).

The thematic line Oil & Gas aims to capitalize on its history, curriculum and link to oil companies to respond to the new and important challenges that exploration and Production (E&P) of recent oil and gas discoveries (conventional and unconventional reservoirs) are facing. This thematic line of R&D is part of the core of the strategic lines of CERENA since this is still a raw material (energy) of capital importance for Portugal and the EU and CERENA is in a privileged position to respond positively to the main challenges of the E&P petroleum industry.

This thematic line intends to gather researchers and research groups of CERENA in projects to give responses to the diversity of challenges launched by the exploration, development and production of complex fields.

The research projects of Oil and Gas are divided in the following main areas:

– Reservoir Characterization and Risk Analyses of Exploration and Appraisal Phases of a Project.

This area of research is concerned basically with providing reliable high resolution models of internal properties and rock types, integration of different types of information- seismic, well data and production data – and corresponding levels of uncertainty in decision making risk models, and new methods of monitoring and decision (i-fields and smart fields). This includes projects with the new advanced methods of seismic characterization, smart fields, geomechanical models, global inversion methods for data and uncertainty integration, pore pressure models for well planning, risk of reserves evaluation etc.

– Development and Production.

This area is essentially focused on the responses of the new challenges of recent deep and ultra-deep waters discoveries (Brazilian, Angolan and Mozambique fields). This includes the set of projects related with the new EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) methods, the flow assurance, wells stimulation, history matching processes.

– Environment and Support Production Systems.

This area involves two main topics: the environmental concerns that assure the sustainability of production on those fields; the transport and logistic planning of production of very far off-shore operations. This includes the multidisciplinary projects of oil spills monitoring, characterization and remediation; projects of CO2 sequestration.

– Exploration and Production of Non-conventional Hydrocarbon Resources (Shale-Gas and Shale-Oil).

This is a new and large area involving the methodologies of exploration of potential shale deposits, new methods for the characterization of risk (geomechanical modelling, induced seismicity), and new techniques of fracking which accounts for the environmental risks.

– Petroleum Refining – New Valorization Methodologies and Processing of Non-Conventional Hydrocarbon Sources.

This is a research area where the refining of oil, from conventional to unconventional sources will be addressed. A particular emphasis will be put on the development of new processes and methodologies for the adaptation of the processing to fit production to source quality and market demand, as well as to the processing of new and heavier feeds and to the valorization of heavier cuts.

To accomplish these objectives, the structure of this thematic line is based on the following organizational principles: i ) Link to the petroleum industry through Joint Industrial Projects; ii) Link to Masters and PhD programs of IST: Petroleum Engineering and Chemical Engineering; iii) Mobility of researchers; iv) Link  the platform IST Oil and Gas


The petroleum group of CERENA , created in 1994, and now integrated in the group of Energy has an international curriculum of excellence, which basically has to do with their good practices of R&D. Taking advantage of the new CERENA’s configuration the thematic line of Oil&Gas will explore the existing competences at the three research groups and try to follow and implement the best R&D practices of each, which will be based on the following structural principles:

i ) Link to the petroleum industry through Joint Industrial Projects

Projects of this thematic line will have a major involvement of oil companies. This involvement is embodied in Joint Industrial Projects in which oil companies through joint or individual agreements fund R&D projects in key topics for the companies related with problems and challenges of exploration and production of complex reservoirs. This financing is internally converted in PhD studentships and post-doctoral fellowships of researchers directly involved and committed with the projects.

ii ) Link to Masters and PhD programs of IST: Petroleum Engineering and Chemical Engineering

The research projects will be based on the work of Master and PhD students in Petroleum Engineering and Chemical Engineering programs of IST students, as well as research work by our postdocs. MSc students in Petroleum Engineering develop work with the average duration of one year and their participation in the JIP is appropriated to their maturity and knowledge. PhD students (Georesources, Petroleum Engineering Chemical Engineering and Refining, Petrochemical and Chemical Engineering programs) and post-docs have a medium-term involvement and their importance in the JIP is quite significant.

iii ) Mobility of researchers

One important point that the petroleum group of CERENA considers fundamental to its excellent performance, is the short and medium term internships of PhD students and post-docs in other research centers and universities of great international prestige with which CERENA has mobility agreements: Stanford Center for Reservoir Forecasting of Stanford University , Heriot Watt University , Clausthal University , University of Campinas UNICAMP , CEPSA , Petroleum Institute of Abu Dhabi . CERENA wants to extend this network to research centers and schools that have their focus on development and production of oil fields and exploration and production of unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs (shale gas and shale oil).

iv ) Link  the platform IST Oil and Gas

In 2012, the petroleum group of CERENA launched, created and currently leads the IST Oil & Gas platform, which is a network of 20 research centers of IST which directly or indirectly develop the work of R&D in the oil field, from the reservoirs , development and production to production support systems . The thematic line Oil&Gas wants to capitalize on the IST-O&G structure for the implementation of their projects, by developing partnerships with other research centers of the school covering key areas, complementary to the CERENA, for example: high performance computing to smart-fields, expertise in NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance), monitoring in extreme environments (viscosity sensors at high temperatures and pressures), transportation management, etc.

Furthermore the research projects of the thematic line Oil and Gas will be grounded in all laboratory structure of CERENA.


This thematic line intends to give responses to the diversity of challenges launched by the exploration, development and production of such complex fields. These can be summarized in the following main research lines:

i) Advanced seismic characterization of petroleum reservoirs: new methods of stochastic seismic inversion pre -stack, with the integration of electromagnetic exploration data for characterization of fluid dynamics; inversion of 4D seismic; direct integration of  petroelastic properties by using the rock-physics relationship.

ii) geomechanical models of oil reservoirs: models of stress for the characterization of the critical fields of fractures, pore pressure prediction for characterizing the risk of blow-out and planning of new wells in the development phase of fields ;

iii) Intelligent Fields (Smart Fields): This is a multidisciplinary area of R&D involving sensors in critical and extreme environments of temperature and pressure, fluid dynamic simulators (Simulators Fast ) and high performance computing (parallel computing, cloud,..).

iv) Strategies for production EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) and Flow Assurance. The secondary and tertiary production implies knowledge of the behavior of the rock / fluid for a given reservoir in order to the optimal

EOR strategy for each situation can be planned. High pressures, oil viscosity, abnormal production of CO2 etc. are factors which are critical issues for the production flow assurance. This line of research with a large laboratory component to characterize the relation rock / fluid and respond at full scale , solutions for EOR and Flow Assurance for each of the reservoirs under study .

v) Environmental studies on O & G :Control and remediation of Oil Spills .

This is a multidisciplinary area that integrates Remote Sensing and Image Analysis, dynamic models of plumes of hydrocarbons , the stochastic characterization of the different risk areas and bioremediation .

vi) CO2 Sequestration

This area capitalizes the knowledge of reservoir models for characterization of geological traps, geomechanical characterization of different rock types and characterization of fractures fields. EOR studies of rock/CO2 interaction are used to assess the transformation of petrophysical properties of the reservoir/trap.

vii) New valorization methodologies for conventional oil, including improvements in exiting processes like catalytic cracking, oligomerization and polymerization, hydrotreatments and hydrocracking, etc…

viii) Processing of non-conventional hydrocarbon sources and heavy fractions – this corresponds to a new challenge, not only

ix) Non-conventional hydrocarbon reservoirs: The Shale- Gas and Shale -Oil .

This is an important R&D area for CERENA where the projects will be focused in the main topics: geomechanical models for the characterization of the stress field, the laboratory techniques of hydraulic fracturing, geomechanical lab tests of induced seismicity and methodologies of up-scaling.

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