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Cullen College Grad Student Analyzes Oil Fractures, Wins SPE Best Paper Award

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Laurie Fickman
Youssef El Waziry is representing UH internationally
Youssef El Waziry is representing UH internationally

Petroleum engineering Ph.D. student Youssef El Waziry nabbed first place in the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Gulf Coast North America regional student paper contest and is headed to represent UH and compete in the international contest.

El Waziry’s paper, “DFIT/MiniFrac Analysis of Hydraulically Fractured Dual-Porosity Formations” tells the story of how to analyze fractured rock to make sure no oil is left behind in the extraction process. It will be published by the SPE during the international convention.

During the traditional process of getting oil out of the ground, engineers study such things as reservoir pressure and permeability of underground formations to make sure the extraction is effective and efficient.

El Waziry has added something new to their analysis.

“Before they would analyze the tests but they didn’t have a solution if the reservoir was already hydraulically fractured, so we added hydraulic fracturing to their analysis,” said El Waziry. 

His post-fracking analysis will deliver information to engineers about which layer will deliver the most oil and which may not contain any oil at all. El Waziry uses software and math to determine how a reservoir will act over time.

“Based on the results I developed a technique that was applied in West Texas to analyze the data and it was successful,” said El Waziry, who earned his master’s degree at Texas Tech University in West Texas. At the time he studied under Mohamed Soliman, then a professor at Texas Tech who now serves as chair of the Cullen College’s petroleum engineering department. El Waziry said he was so impressed with Soliman he followed him to Houston, enrolling as a petroleum engineering doctoral student at UH.

“I couldn’t have done it without him,” El Waziry’s says of his mentor Soliman. El Waziry’s goal is to continue helping the world face critical oil and gas challenges.

“Technically what’s happening is that we’re producing, but sometimes we’re leaving a lot of oil behind. My goal is not to leave that oil behind, to make sure we’re using the right technology,” he said.

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