Dr. Zerpa

Dr. Zerpa



I continue teaching the undergraduate Reservoir Engineering courses and one graduate course on Numerical Methods. I would like to thank my Teaching Assistants who help with the delivery of these courses, without them this would not be an easy task. They not only help with grading assignments and tests, they are also a great asset for the students taking these courses, leveraging the student’s opportunity to thoroughly learn the material discussed in class with additional and personalized discussions out of the classroom. I am deeply grateful for the support of our alumni that allow us to hire these outstanding Teaching Assistants.

Mengnan (MS 2016) giving a presentation of her reservoir simulation

model at the NREL visualization center.

This was my third year as a faculty member of the Petroleum Engineering team at Mines. I am honored to be a member of this excellent group and have enjoyed the supportive and professional atmosphere of the department. This was a very gratifying academic year where I completed two of my initial research projects and graduated three students.

In one project, we studied the effect of formation and dissociation of natural gas hydrates on the porosity and permeability of sediments, which has applications to methane production from unconventional gas hydrate reservoirs. I worked on this project with one graduate student, Fanguy Gao, who received her Master of Science degree in December 2015. Fangyu is now pursuing her doctoral studies at the University of Wyoming.

I have started to design new, exciting research projects to keep growing my research group, which has as a main goal to develop and apply fundamental knowledge in transport phenomena and surface chemistry for the understanding and solution of key problems in petroleum science and engineering. Some of the particular areas we would focus on are: fluid flow in porous media; reservoir engineering and enhanced oil recovery; flow assurance and multiphase flow in pipelines; unconventional energy resources such as shale gas, shale oil and natural gas hydrates, and renewable energy resources such as geothermal energy from sedimentary basins.

As always, it is gratifying get to see the students mature intellectually and get ready to make their next steps of their professional careers. Hopefully, I will get to know more about your professional achievements over this next year. I wish you a remarkable year and higher oil prices.

As part of a school-wide collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), we completed our two-year project on the study of sedimentary geothermal energy extraction, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. As the last task of this project, we developed a reservoir model of the Lyons formation in the Wattenberg field in Colorado, and performed reservoir simulations of different well configurations to extract geothermal energy from this sandstone formation. Mengnan Zhou, one of the graduate students participating in this project, successfully defended her master thesis in March 2016. Mengnan moved to Dallas, Texas, to continue her professional career.

Piyush’s hooding ceremony with Dr. Zerpa and Dr. Sum.

Additionally, I closed one chapter of my collaboration with the CSM Center for Hydrate Research, with the graduation of my first PhD student, Piyush Chaudhari, co-advised with Dr. Amadeu Sum (Chemical Engineering Department). Piyush was working on quantifying the risk of gas hydrates plugging a subsea pipeline, and successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in December 2015. Piyush is currently looking for his next professional adventure.