Craig W. Van Kirk

Professor Emeritus, Petroleum Engineering


Craig W. Van KirkThirty years ago, when I was an undergraduate student in petroleum engineering, I was impressed by the wide range of knowledge and skills required to be successful as a student and as a professional after graduation. My early amazement expanded as I gained further experience through three degrees in petroleum engineering and work in private industry, prior to returning to CSM as a faculty member in 1978. The culmination of these observations is my deep appreciation that petroleum engineers are routinely responsible for integrating a wide variety of information, people, economic constraints and goals, and social factors in carrying out their functions.

During my early years in education and industry I tried to build as broad an experience base as possible, and I have found unlimited applications of this base in my chosen area of specialization, i.e., reservoir management.

This broad area of emphasis has permitted me to conduct both practical and theoretical research on complex reservoirs throughout the world. Today’s graduate students pursuing reservoir management and related topics should find unlimited opportunities in their careers, not just in the petroleum industry but also in areas of geothermal, groundwater, and environmental.

More specifically, the several areas of my research interests and supervising graduate student research are: Conducting reservoir simulation studies of actual oil or gas fields; history matching, forecasting various scenarios of future recovery schemes and their economic impact; working with integrated multidisciplinary teams of geologists and geophysicists. Developing theoretical approaches for improving the practical application of reservoir analysis techniques, especially, reservoir simulation, such as appropriate grid size and orientation, heterogeneity effects, appropriate scaling for geologic complexities; and coalbed methane production and supplemental recovery.

These kinds of research activities have provided my graduate students and me with opportunities to study and learn about some of the more complex and interesting reservoir problems throughout the world. We share in the thrill of discovery and the satisfaction of applying our new knowledge to help the science and engineering community. If you believe you might be interested in working with me and others on these kinds of projects, feel free to give me a call.


Marquez Hall 207



  • B.S., M.S., University of Southern California
  • Ph.D., Colorado School of Mines


Research Areas

Numerical simulation, reservoir characterization. Field development and management, and supplemental recovery. Multidisciplinary research.