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UNCONVENTIONAL OIL 2017/ key statistical indicators (research papers)

Recent Research Papers/ Brief Overview

In this commentary the statistical indicators of research publications on unconventional oil (Heavy and extra heavy oil, Oil shale, Oil sands), dated 2017, are considered. The scientific papers have been selected in Google Scholar database step-by-step, using reference keywords. The total number of publications under study is 560; they are authored by 439 science writers from 49 countries.

The leadership in the quantity of academic papers belongs to Canada – with almost 35% of the total number, as well as to the residents of China (18.3%) and the USA (15%). It’s worth noting that a certain part of papers under discussion has resulted from collaborative efforts of researchers from across the world, which is why the number of publications considered does not usually coincide with the overall number of countries mentioned as the residential places of authors.

Top 10 countries by research activity

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

Heavy oil and Oil sands were the most frequently mentioned as the subjects for study. The problems of Low efficiency of primary production were of principal interest to authors – by considerable odds in comparison with others, as well as the themes of Environmental balance and protection, Low production efficiency in general, and Exploration problems.

Distribution of scientific papers on problems

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies
LEPP - Low efficiency of primary production; EBP - Environmental balance and protection; LPE - Low production efficiency in general; EXP - Exploration problems; LESP - Low efficiency of secondary processing; HRCM - High running costs of maintenance; HCG - High capital or running costs in general; HCEI - High capital costs of exploration and infrastructure; EGWC - Energy, gas or water consumption; AOP - Administrative and organizational problems; HCRR - High running costs of repair and replacement

The representatives of Alberta in Canada, namely the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, exhibited the highest research activity. The China University of Petroleum (UPC), the China University of Petroleum (CUP, Beijing Campus), PetroChina Company Limited, PetroChina Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development and the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE), headquartered in the Netherlands, as well as Texas A&M University in U.S., Environment and Climate Change Canada and the University of Regina in Canada were also included  in top 10 leading research organizations. Most of the researchers from the institutions mentioned above investigated the problems of Low efficiency of primary production, Low production efficiency in general, and Exploration problems, in their scientific papers, and the challenges of Environmental balance and protection were definitely considered, especially by the residents of Canada in particular.

Top 10 organizations by the number of publications

StatusCountryNameTotal, 2017
OrganizationCAUniversity of Alberta68
OrganizationCAUniversity of Calgary68
OrganizationCNUPC China University of Petroleum34
OrganizationNLEuropean Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE)24
OrganizationCAEnvironment and Climate Change Canada16
OrganizationCAUniversity of Regina15
OrganizationCNPetroChina Company Limited14
OrganizationCNCUP China University of Petroleum, Beijing Campus13
OrganizationCNPetroChina Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development12
OrganizationUSTexas A&M University12

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

The themes, relating to Reservoir permeability improvement and extraction, Steam injection, Chemical stimulation and others not mentioned in standard classification (Other unclassified), were of principal interest to the leaders with reference to technology components.

Distribution of scientific papers on technologies elements among Top-10 research organizations

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies
CS - Chemical stimulation;  D - Drilling and well elements; DDH - Directional drilling or hydraulic fracturing; GWF - Gas injection or water flooding; ISC - In-situ combustion; ME - Mechanical extraction; OU - Other unclassified; RPIE - Reservoir permeability improvement and extraction; SEI - Surface exploration and infrastructure; STI - Steam injection; SUM - Surface or underground mining; TR - Treatment and refinement; UAM - Undefined activation method; URE - Underground reservoir exploration; UTR - Uncommon thermal recovery; WP - Waste processing

A considerable part of the publications was submitted in the form of Scientific articles; substantially fewer in the form of Technical reports, Presentations and reviews, Press releases, etc. As to the contents, most often Data Research, Methodology and Modeling were covered in papers, but the challenges of Technology and Equipment as well as themes, relating to Infrastructure, Resources, Projects and Legislation, were investigated less.

The majority of scientific papers under consideration were published in such journals as Fuel, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering (Science Direct); Energy Fuels, Science of The Total Environment, Environmental Science & Technology, Energy & Fuels (ACS Publication), SPE Journal (OnePetro), The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering (Wiley Online Library), as well as within the proceedings of The European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers.