PhD scholarship: Kinetics of Scale Formation in Oil and Gas Production

DTU Chemical Eng.
Thursday 15 Jun 17

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Center for Energy Resources Engineering (CERE), Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark seeks a PhD student to work on the project: Kinetics of scale formation in oil and gas production. The proposed PhD project is a part of a work package conducted in collaboration between The Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre (DHRTC) and Maersk Oil (MOG). The PhD position is for a 3-year period.  

Scale formation in the production equipment of the oil and gas industry poses a general challenge. It tends to build up on the interior pipe wall both downhole and in the upper part of the well and production tubular. A significant amount of scale will eventually precipitate which can cause a failure of downhole safety valves or a complete stop of production due to loss of internal diameter of the pipe from excessive scale formation. Scales may also cause under deposit corrosion and there is a great need to understand why and where the scales are formed.  The scales in focus during this study are the most common to the North Sea production equipment: BaSO4, SrSO4, CaCO3, FeCO3, FexS. The equilibrium phenomena are reasonably well known.    The aim of this study is to develop an experimental basis which allows for the determination of scale formation kinetics. Existing equipment and methods need to be further developed. Measurements should be conducted under conditions allowing the determination of scale formation under varying supersaturation conditions as functions of production fluid properties and composition like for example sea water fraction. The study of the interaction between brine and surfaces will play a role in the project.  The experimental design should be supported using existing thermodynamic models at DTU.  

Objective and purpose of the project
The purpose of the project is to create a knowledge base which allows for a further model development giving the possibility to better predict scale formation in the future. The objective is to reduce the cost of well workovers by developing methods to predict the rate of scale formation.  This project should lead to an increase in energy production compared to the existing production scheme.  

Project contents
The task will be to develop an experimental method and an analytic chemical technique which allows for determination of scale formation under varying fluid compositions and supersaturation conditions. The work should be supported by advanced thermodynamic modelling. You are expected to apply existing knowledge from literature on scale formation kinetics and you will most likely need to visit external organizations to gain knowledge on the topic.  

Relation to other projects
You will be a member of the CERE research group supervised by associate professors Kaj Thomsen and Philip Fosbøl, DTU Chemical Engineering. Professor Rajan Ambat, DTU MEK will be co-supervisor. In the CERE research group, you can draw on years of thermodynamic experience and knowledge of scale formation. Many of the software tools you will need for this project are already available. Your project is one in a range of corrosion and scale formation projects. You will be communicating to the DHRTC on a regular basis. You are expected to present and discuss your ideas to the DHRTC platform but also to other international partners and conferences abroad. You will be responsible for publishing and reporting your findings.  

Candidates should have a master's degree in chemical engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering. There will be focus on your experience within experimental analysis techniques and high pressure inorganic chemistry. You will be evaluated on your skills within thermodynamic modelling and programming. There will be a focus towards the previous publications, if any.   

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Associate Professors Kaj Thomsen and Philip L. Fosbøl.   

Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The period of employment is 3 years.   

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Associate Professor Kaj Thomsen, tel.: +45 4525 2860.

You can read more about DTU Chemical Engineering on  

Please submit your online application no later than 30 June 2017. Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online," fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one pdf file. The file must include:  

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma (an official translation into English)
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here)
  • Any relevant publications which you find important to the application (max 20 pages)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.  

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and public service. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 10,600 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.