Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Past Winner
2016 NSERC Synergy Awards for Innovation

Synergy Award for Innovation

Synergy Award for Innovation

Category 3: Two or More Companies

University of Calgary
Brion Energy Corporation, Computer Modelling Group, Devon, Foundation CMG, IBM Alberta Centre for Advanced Studies, IBM Canada Ltd., IBM Research, Nexen Energy ULC, Suncor Energy

Alberta’s petroleum industry is a cornerstone of Canada’s economy, and one that is constantly improving its operations to reduce costs and environmental impact. Since 2008, Zhangxing (John) Chen of the University of Calgary has led a research consortium with a group of partners from the oil and gas sectors. Together, they are using dynamic simulations to test new operations that produce more while using less.

Chen’s research group has developed a remarkable virtual reality interface that allows companies to save time and money on field testing and instead focus their efforts on implementing better practices that reduce environmental impact. Engineers construct computer simulations of reservoir layers and drilling sites and users interact with them in real time. Powerful modelling tools assess issues with oil composition, temperature, water usage and geomechanics, adjusting and adapting simulations until they find an optimal way of operating.

The advancements by Chen and his partners have made them one of the most effective collaborations between academia and industry in the country. With a strong working relationship and their eyes set firmly on improving standards for the petroleum industry, they see a great deal of success to come for their consortium.

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