Section Banner

Colorado school of mines petroleum engineering department


Interim Department Head and Professor

Dr. William Fleckenstein


The Changes Continue...

Greetings from Golden. The Petroleum Engineering Department has continued to evolve and change as it settles into Marquez Hall. There have only been two permanent Department Heads since 1980, Dr. Craig Van Kirk and Dr. Ramona Graves. I've committed to staying in the position on an interim basis until we find a leader of comparable quality to my predecessors, and one must be careful of one's commitments, because those two are irreplaceable. I am discovering on a firsthand basis what a tremendous job that both Craig and Ramona have done, and just what the responsibilities and rewards are possible in this job. The first step to attracting the world class leader this job demands is the establishment of the $3.5 million "Mick" Merelli Distinguished Department Head Chair in Petroleum Engineering. Many thanks to Cimarex for the commitment to the Colorado School of Mines, in honor of Mick, a founder of Cimarex and a shining example of what a Miner can be. The next step is to bring this to the attention of those with the combination of leadership, management skills and burning love for the education of the future of the petroleum industry. Please respond to this call to CSM PE alumni to think about this challenge themselves, or bring this to the attention of someone you would entrust our department and your sons and daughters to. The ad will soon be out.

Dr. Ramona M. Graves

The first year is behind us after the move to Marquez Hall, and it has fulfilled its promise to be the best possible facility for Petroleum Engineering in the world. The only possible exception being the fact that it was designed for a department about half the size that demand had driven our growth in students and research to. If you would like to donate a building to allow us to accommodate that growth, please contact President Scoggins or myself and we will be glad to talk with you about that. Seriously (no, we really could use the donation), the building that our alumni and industry partners made possible has been wonderful, and everyone that donated to this endeavor can be very proud. The Petroleum Department enjoys a special relationship with our alumni and industry partners and supporters that is the envy of the campus. I cannot express how important that relationship is, both financially to us from the continual flow of donations to support our department efforts, but also the help with intangible things, like assistance with our field sessions, or a willingness to serve on our various steering committees. Many thanks.

Since Marquez Hall is the newest and most beautiful building on campus, I believe it is the flagship of the CERSE college and its six departments. Dr. Graves as the Dean, is effectively our Admiral (Queen?), and so I offered to convert a beautiful space that Bud and Kaye Isaacs donated to an office for Dean Graves, in her flagship building, which the Isaacs agreed to. The construction of the Dean's office is almost completed, and it is, like everything else in our new home, spectacular. It seemed fitting to me that the person most responsible for putting Marquez Hall together in its final form should be based there, and I am glad that my offer was accepted.

We have two new faculty that have joined us. Dr. Ronni Pini joins us from Stanford University, where he completed his postdoctoral work. Dr. Pini is an experimentalist whose primary work has been in the areas of CO2 sequestration and coal bed methane. Dr. Pini fills an immediate void in the PE undergraduate laboratory classes left by the promotion of Dr. Ramona Graves to the Deanship of CERSE. He has collaborated with both national and international institutions and organizations and has an impressive array of publications. His research interests are adsorption mechanisms in CBM, something easily translated to other unconventional resources, such as shales.

Dr. Luis Zerpa, joins us after completing his doctoral work at CSM in Petroleum Engineering in deepwater flow assurance, with close collaboration with the CSM Center for Hydrate Research. Dr. Zerpa taught for five years at the University of Zulia in Venezuela at the Masters level, and brings a South American perspective to our staff. Dr. Zerpa is teaching this fall PEGN 423, our Reservoir Engineering I class that has long been the domain of Dr. Van Kirk (can anyone say Tarner Project?).

Dr. Van Kirk is now entering a new period in his relationship with CSM as his transitional retirement period ends, and Craig expressed the desire to me to take only his second sabbatical in 35 years at Mines to spend more time with his grandkids and do many other things. In light of Craig's service over those 35 years, I hope that he greatly enjoys his time away, and will continue to assist us over the coming many years. The department owes a debt of gratitude to Craig for all that he has done.

Tom Bratton has completed the first year of Schlumberger's commitment to support our department and that is going extremely well. Tom has been instrumental in assisting with our research and graduate needs, and is teaching with Dr. Manika Prasad our undergraduate formation evaluation class. He also will be instrumental in working Petroleum, Geology and Geophysics to help address their graduate formation evaluation needs as well. Not to be left out, Halliburton is greatly increasing their technology commitment to the Halliburton Visualization Center, and is also supporting a graduate fellows program, with six fellows from various departments around campus. These Fellows, plus new graduate students and research faculty, will be housed in space converted and remodeled in the Green Center for us. This space, outside Marquez Hall, emphasizes the multi-disciplinary nature of our research, and is also necessitated because we are essentially out of room in Marquez Hall for additional faculty, or graduate students.

The students and faculty, as you will read in this newletter, have accomplished many wonderful things this year - starting with winning the Petro-Bowl at the SPE-ATCE. This year we had approximately 200 students divided into 4 PEGN 315 field sessions that went to Alaska, California, Gulf Coast and Wyoming. I accompanied the group that went to Alaska, and was very impressed with the level of presentations and visits arranged by our host companies, and a special shout out to ConocoPhillips, who chartered a plane and took the whole group to the North Slope to tour the Kuparak field. The field sessions went extremely well, and really introduced the students just beginning the Petroleum classes to the breadth and depth of the oil and gas industry. On behalf of the department, many thanks to all who assisted us.

The Petroleum Department was honored to be asked to assist in an effort to design a new research facility in Kuwait. This is a multi-year effort, which is evolving as the process continues. Dr. Graves and I spent three weeks in Kuwait this summer conducting a series of workshops, to help identify and prioritize challenges meaningful to the various parts of the Kuwaiti oil industry. Dr. Hossein Kazemi participated in 3 days of the workshops, and made several presentations that illustrated the effect that good research, coupled with well-designed pilot programs, can have on the success of large investments by both international and national oil companies. This effort is off to a flying start with our partners, and reaffirms the CSM PE Department's standing as a leader in both petroleum engineering research and education.

I personally have continued working on a series of high-level unconventional resource development workshops in Eastern Europe with the latest in three cities in the Ukraine, and another in Lithuania. These workshops present an unbiased view of the issues associated with shale development, and discuss the North American experience, with the technology, regulatory frameworks, economic benefits, and impacts on infrastructure, environment and society in general. This has went hand in hand with a large, 5 year, multi-institutional NSF project that Dr Eustes and I are involved with, to study the feasibility of using natural gas as a "bridge fuel" to a more sustainable energy future. Our portion of the proposal is to quantify the risks to the environment from drilling and completion techniques. In the early summer, I traveled to Washington DC and presented our preliminary results to the NSF and made other presentations on Shale Development to other groups. The four tasks of our portion of the research is to:

1. assess the hydraulic isolation of aquifers from hydrocarbon bearing formations,
2. estimate the probabilities of casing and cement sheath failure in surface, intermediate, and production casing,
3. analyze the probability of fracture propagation hydraulically connecting aquifers with hydrocarbon bearing zones and the chemicals used in the stimulation process
4. evaluate the procedures employed by various operators and service companies for "green" versus "non-green" well completions

I am also working on the commercialization of several technologies either directly through CSM, or through a related start-up called FracOptimal LLC, which had a very important milestone of revenue generation through its first generation of multistage fracturing technology, and is now working through its second generation. CSM is applying for Patent protection for a casing seal verification technology I developed to positively prove hydraulic isolation exists in the annulus of casing. I am also negotiating with several investments groups to complete the research on a propping technology for fractured completions.

The changes continue in the PE Department. This is probably my last newsletter as Department Head, and I wish to thank all of those who have assisted the department or me during my tenure. The PE Department would not be the institution it is today without your help, and I personally owe a great deal of thanks to those that have helped or will help me during this time of transition. I hope everyone has had a wonderful year and look forward to seeing many of you at the CSM Alumni Reception at the SPE ATCE in New Orleans this fall.

The Big Move and Changes...

Dr. Ramona M. Graves


Dr. Ramona M. Graves

Dean Ramona M. Graves

Last school year was amazing for me, the Petroleum Engineering Department and the College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering (CERSE)! We all had an exponential learning curve.

For CERSE, the Economic and Business, Geology and Geological Engineering, Geophysics, Liberal Arts and International Studies, Mining, and Petroleum departments began to form a cohesive unit. We also added the Colorado Geologic Survey to our team. I knew I would miss working closely with the PE faculty but found that the Department Heads and Division Directors of CERSE are equally committed to CSM and to building a strong, effective College. Having a College Administrator, Patti Hassen, and a College Fiscal Officer, Beth Sjaastad, has made this transition efficient and affective. Thanks to the entire CERSE team!

Under Will Fleckenstein's leadership, the PE department made amazing strides forward - new research, new faculty, new enthusiasm, and renewed energy! My primary objective for the department this year is to hire a permanent department head so Will can go back to devoting his time to us as a "super" adjunct with teaching, research, corporate relations, and entrepreneurial activities.

And finally for me (as Will states it), CERSE is the flagship college and the admiral needs to be in the flagship building on campus, so as Dean I have a new home in Marquez Hall. A space on second floor of Marquez, room 202, has been remodeled so Patti, Beth, and I now have a permanent home. As Dean my travel schedule, especially to our international partners, is as busy as ever - in January to Abu Dhabi, in June to Kuwait, and next December to Indonesia and of course many meetings with CERSE alumni and corporate supporters in the US.

Dr. Ramona M. Graves

Dancing with Maasai in Tanzania

However, the best of the year was that Lacey and her partner, Brandon, moved back to the Denver area and I am going to be a grandma! We will be welcoming Oliver into our lives in November! Jake still lives in the Denver area and my mother is doing fantastic at 86. My life, both personal and professional, continues to be a wonderful adventure!

PE STATISTICS FOR 12-13
New Research
Contracts $5,862,839
GRADUATES
PhD 3
MS/ME 20
BS 130
Placement as of May (%) 96
CURRENT ENROLLMENT
PhD 49
MS/ME 72
Seniors 170
Juniors 205
*Sophomore/Freshmen - do not declare until Spring Semester
 

© 2013 Petroleum Engineering Colorado School of Mines | Mines Privacy Policy