Phoenix RDS with Heriot-Watt University

Smart Design of Flow Control Devices


Phoenix RDS is a specialist upstream oil and gas subsurface consultancy, launched in 2016. Based in Aberdeen, it develops and delivers optimised reservoir solutions for the full life cycle of oil and gas developments. Its experienced team have developed a number of products and novel solutions to address the challenges of the oil and gas sector in the 21st century.

One novel project the team wanted to develop was the potential to improve Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) outcomes by optimising and managing polymer floods using improved Flow Control Devices (FCDs).

FCDs are used in the oil and gas industry to create a pressure drop between reservoir and wellbore in order to homogenize flow profile. To date, the main design criteria have been to meet pressure drop and selectivity. But scant attention has been paid to potential changes in the properties of the fluids passing through the devices. Given that fluid flow through conventional types of FCDs may cause unacceptable changes in fluid rheology, smart designs are required to optimise them.

Phoenix wanted to address this through:

  • modelling of FCD design to enable selective, controlled injection without destroying the polymer
  • reservoir modelling to demonstrate that improvements could be made to EOR outcomes by selective injection.

They approached OGIC, and selected Heriot-Watt University as their research partner, with two different schools working on it: the School of Engineering and Physical Science and the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society (EGIS).

The eight-month project was highly productive. The research team developed modelling workflows and optimisation concepts that provide proof of concept conclusions on the potential value of polymer-friendly FCD technology.

Case studies showed that reductions in polymer mechanical degradation by low shear FCDs resulted in higher oil recovery. The project team also produced a prototype FCD.

The next stage proposed is a study to demonstrate the added value from the improved, polymer-friendly FCD technology on an oilfield scale and across a range of economic and reservoir scenarios. This will help define the technology’s application envelope and guide future FCD design studies.


“The team at Heriot-Watt provided a huge extension to our R&D capability. Their input, and OGIC’s support, have been crucial in progressing our long-term plan to commercialise the product – a product that has important potential to improve recovery efficiency.”

Heikki Jutila FGS, Technical Director, Phoenix RDS Ltd


“This was a rapid eight-month project that developed knowledge that could be really important in commercial terms for the industry. A particularly exciting aspect of this project was the collaboration, not just with the commercial partner but with academics in other disciplines in Heriot-Watt. This bringing-together of different skills and expertise is a powerful springboard for innovation.”

Dr Khafiz Muradov, Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University


To view this case study as a PDF, click here.


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