Recovering net zero energy from late life and abandoned oilfields: assessment of the geoscience

Closing Date: 11/12/2020

About the Project

The University of Liverpool (UoL), Tayhope Enterprises Limited and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) are seeking to appoint a suitably experienced and qualified individual to undertake a three-year PhD research programme.

UoL, Tayhope and MTC are developing a cutting edge, blue-sky-thinking energy extraction process and are looking for a blue-sky thinker to join them on this voyage of discovery.

Most oilfields have at least 50% of reserves remaining at the end of the field's life. We are proposing to adapt a process known as fire flooding (also called in-situ combustion), during which oxygen is injected at the periphery of a depleted oilfield. The mixture of oxygen and remaining oil is ignited; during conventional fire flooding, hydrocarbon production is enhanced through oil both decreasing viscosity and cracking to gas. Our novel plan is to take advantage of the massive increase in fluid pressure that results from fire flooding. The induced high pressure will drive reservoir fluids and combustion gases towards production wells at the crest of the field. The high pressure and hot fluids will then escape up the production wells to drive Tayhope's proprietary Geo-Engines and so generate electricity. This energy will then be used to split fluids into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis. All unwanted gases and fluids will be sequestered to ensure zero-emissions.

This PhD will involve a desk-based and modelling study of the subsurface geoscience aspects of this mode of generation of green hydrogen with carbon sequestration from depleted oilfields. Your academic supervisory team will be led by Prof Richard Worden, and include Prof John Wheeler, Dr Silvio De Angelis and Dr David McNamara, all based in Geosciences at the University of Liverpool.

This is without doubt a challenging opportunity, requiring an individual with an exceptional and inquisitive mind, coupled with a strong drive to achieve. The successful applicant will become an integral part of the development of a potentially game-changing green hydrogen generation project, which could accelerate the UK towards its hydrogen economy aspirations, while securing carbon free, energy security for the next century.

This PhD is one of 18 industry-led collaborative R&D projects from the Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory and one of three PhD's sponsored by MTC. MTC have world class research facilities and are one of the UK Governments eight focused research catapults, with 700 employees, many of whom are experts in their individual fields. The successful candidate will have access to the MTC's specialists in Liverpool and Coventry, in addition to the academic and personal support offered by the four UoL PhD advisors involved in this project.

The aim of the project is for you to work toward a PhD at the University of Liverpool through delivering 'real - life' solutions to industry. The Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory brings together the expertise, resources and global contacts of University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moore's University and Lancaster University to create innovative low carbon goods, processes and services developed through collaborative R&D partnerships between local companies in the Liverpool City Region and local universities.

All LCEI PhD projects have been developed by SMEs contacting the University for assistance in R&D where the company does not have internal expertise, resource or facilities to carry out the research. This will give you a strong advantage in entering a competitive jobs market in both the academic and commercial sectors.

Funding Notes

By joining the centre, you will receive a 16,000 tax-free stipend per year, with your post-graduate tuition fees paid at UK/EU rate. None UK/EU students will be required to pay the fees-balance of 19,000 per year, and be able to demonstrate this capacity. The centre is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Please visit for more information on the centre.

Application details:

You will need a minimum of a 2:1 in a Geoscience or related subject but a relevant MSc would be an advantage. Alternatively, you may also have a minimum of a 2:1 in Physical Sciences or an Engineering-based degree, as long as you have MSc experience of Reservoir Engineering or Geoscience. You must be numerate and have demonstrable experience of Matlab, Python or R. The skills matrix we will use to assess the applications is available at

For further details about this project contact Prof Richard Worden at

Please apply for this PhD position at:

Make sure that you quote reference UoL-LCEI-273 and state that the primary supervisory is Prof R H Worden.

You will be asked to write a "proposal" as part of the application process; for this section, please write a 2-page expression of interest.

posted: 27 November 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.