A world-leading research group based at the University of Aberdeen's School of Geosciences has been nominated as a finalist in the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards, which celebrates the impact of academic and business partnerships.
The Sand Injection Research Group (SIRG), based in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and led by Professor Andrew Hurst, has been nominated for the Multiparty Collaboration Award, which is given to groups and consortia including business and academic partners who are working together on an innovative research project.
The SIRG is a world leader in the study of sand injectites – naturally hydraulic fractured “shale” propped open by naturally fluidised sand that offer exploration opportunities to oil and gas operators, while also optimising recovery from some existing fields.
The group’s research targets sand injectites in shallow, cheaper to drill locations in areas often previously overlooked by operators, as injectites offer the chance to drill boreholes that have less impact on the environment, are more cost effective, and offer a higher rate of return.
Established in 2000 to meet an industry need, SIRG created the science that underpins much of this activity and has helped discover approximately four billion barrels of oil on the UK and Norwegian continental shelves.
It is a collaborative project with 12 industry members, including AkerBP, Apache, BP, Capricorn (Solveig), Chrysaor, ConocoPhillips, Equinor, Idemitsu, JXNippon, Lundin, Premier and Taqa. Academic partners have included the University of Cardiff, University of Manchester and Stanford University.
Direct investment in SIRG exceeds £7m, with additional investment from members supporting regular field-based CPD, PhD studentships and MSc projects currently running at least £100k per year.
The SIRG transfers its technology to its membership through regular workshops in Aberdeen (Sir Duncan Rice Library) and Stavanger (Norwegian Petroleum Directorate).
Welcoming the group’s nomination, Professor Hurst said: “SIRG was born out of scientific curiosity that coincided with technical challenges of commercial relevance. My team and I are flattered by the nomination and privileged to receive over 20 years of exclusive industry investment in academic excellence, and to experience the synergy of science and wealth creation."