University of Utah chemical engineering professor and department chair, Milind Deo, has been selected by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) as a 2017–2018 Distinguished Lecturer (DL).

Chosen annually by SPE, Distinguished Lecturers are nominated by their peers to share their extensive knowledge and expertise with other SPE members. Distinguished Lecturers represent each region of the world and the variety of disciplines covered by SPE members. Lecturers visit an average of 20 SPE local sections during their term, with rigorous tours of four days to two weeks in which they present lectures and share their expertise with audiences around the world.

Deo’s presentation for the 2017–2018 SPE Distinguished Lecture Series is titled “Optimizing liquid recoveries from shales through geologic, geomechanical, fluid and operating considerations.”


Production of oil in the United States nearly doubled to about 10 million barrels a day over a five year span primarily due to increased production of liquids from shale plays. The technological advances that led to this increase were impressive, but there were also some system failures. Improving production of liquids from low-permeability, shale plays requires an integrated understanding of the interaction of fluid thermodynamic and formation geologic and geomechanical properties. Reservoir simulation and response surface methods helped establish the important factors that control liquid recoveries. Matrix permeability and hydraulic fracture spacing are at the top of the list, and six out of the eight factors were geologic. A transient material balance method was used successfully in the Permian Basin for the calculation of reservoir permeability early in production. Liquid rates and recoveries improved when the wells were operated at higher bottom-hole pressures, which is now being recognized and implemented by some producers. A dicrete-element geomechanical model to determine the morphology of hydraulic fractures is used to guide the fracturing process. A method to accurately simulate large multi-fracture, multi-well areas to optimize fracture and well spacing is described. Recovery of liquids from shales could be improved by operating the wells at higher pressures, and by optimizing fracture and well spacing.

Each year, SPE selects a group of professionals to share their knowledge and expertise. Nominees are named by their peers and lecturers are selected by a committee of 36 members.

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