Photo: Hung Ngo

New Director at the Petroleum Laboratory


John Fabricius Zuta started in his new position as Director of the Petroleum Laboratory in January 2017.

IRIS, formerly Rogaland Research, was established in 1973. From the early going, social sciences were the target area for the research activities at the IRIS. However, with the growing oil and gas industry in the region, and equipment handed to the center from Exxon Mobil, quickly turned IRIS into a state-of-the-art institution for petroleum research and development (R&D). Kåre Olav Vatne, the chief engineer at IRIS, explains.
  • Back in the early 1980s Exxon Mobil handed over equipment to Rogaland Research as a form of goodwill to increase research on reservoir technology and flow characteristics. It started with core analysis in 1982. Apart from core analysis, several other laboratories as well as Ullrigg were established around this period.   

During the 1990s, IRIS branched out into several laboratories.
  • In this period, we had several laboratories that performed research within a wide range of petroleum-related topics. Even though research within different fields are on-going, the different departments were gathered under one name, the Petroleum Laboratory. This happened right around the turn of the century. Research within core analysis has somewhat strayed away from the R&D focus it had in the early beginning towards a more commercial role. Now the laboratory specializes in special core analysis (SCAL) services for industry-partners, explains Vatne.  

Recently, John Zuta took on the director role for the Petroleum Laboratory and has ambitions on stepping the laboratory out it’s comfort zone and integrating more R&D into the work-flow at the laboratory.
  • Our primary goal during the past 30 years has been provision of services related to SCAL. However, I hope to gradually integrate R&D into our work. I think we should get out of our comfort zones and try something new. This means developing new competence by building on the knowledge and expertise which we have developed within SCAL. That is a good starting point, I think. Within R&D I believe we have the experience to perform research related to CO2 capture and storage (CSS), geothermal energy, plug and abandonment (P&A), and improved oil recovery (IOR) at realistic reservoir conditions. However, we have to invest in a few equipment to ensure that we are competitive. Also, if we should take SCAL-research a step further, I would like to be able to invest in a Carl Zeiss X-ray microscope. It is a multipurpose equipment and measurements can be performed at realistic reservoir conditions. I believe this is the future for SCAL since it has the capability of 3-D characterizing of plug samples and will hopefully bridge the gap between pore scale and core scale analyses, says Zuta.  

Zuta goes on to explain that he is very excited about two projects that is already off to a good start.
  • We have two very exciting projects within R&D and special core analysis. One of them is a CLIMIT-project with Wellcem AS on screening of polymer resins for remediation of CO2- wells. The objective of the research project is to develop an environmentally friendly polymer resin formation that can be applied for stopping CO2-leakages through annular cement sheaths in CO2-wells. The projects consist of five main work packages, and IRIS is leading three of them.  The allocated budget is 3.6 MNOK, and the project is expected to run until June 2018. There is a huge demand for trapped gas measurements – residual gas saturations after injecting equilibrated live gas for some of the gas fields on the Norwegian continental shelf. This has placed a demand on our X-ray scanning machines, and we have plans to invest in a new X- ray scanner to keep up with the demand.

Apart from managing the day to day operations at the Petroleum Laboratory, Zuta is also busy working at increasing the visibility of the Petroleum Laboratory.
  • I would like to increase the visibility of the Petroleum Laboratory. Between January and March, I visited six different oil and gas companies in Stavanger and the response has been very encouraging. They have always associated IRIS with IOR/EOR and not SCAL. This entails that there is a huge market which we have not explored. We think we are competitive but we are not known. I believe in my group, and I sincerely believe that we have what it takes to compete with other laboratories doing the same kind of analyses, says Zuta.
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