PetroPhase conference returns to Houston

More than 150 participants from 18 countries gather to address energy transition

PetroPhase Conference

The 2023 PetroPhase conference, organized around scientific and technical advances in flow assurance and fouling issues in energy production, was co-hosted by Rice University and Ennova, engineering consultants in gas and oil. Held June 11-15 in Houston, the conference attracted more than 150 participants from 18 countries.

“PetroPhase is the premier international conference focused on fluid properties and flow issues in oil production and usage, and related fields. This year for the first time a student conference was incorporated into PetroPhase, attracting 27 students,” said Walter Chapman, William W. Akers Chair Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) at Rice, and co-chair of the event.

Chapman’s co-chair of PetroPhase, Francisco “Paco” Vargas, is an adjunct associate professor of ChBE at Rice and chairman and chief technology officer at Ennova.

“We have seen a dramatic change in this field over the last 20 years,” Chapman said. “The scientific tools have been refined and the engineering models now have a basis in molecular theory. Strong disagreements remain but the scientific bases for the arguments have made significant advances. This is due, in part, to research performed at Rice with industrial collaborators and advances by companies that grew out of Rice, such as Ennova.”

Scientists and engineers from academia and industry hailed from North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

The student conference, chaired by Marya Cokar, assistant teaching professor of ChBE at Rice, highlighted challenges and opportunities in energy-related careers. It included sessions devoted to carbon capture, utilization and storage, and general energy transition.

Two awards judged by a panel from industry went to Rice students. The Best Oral Presentation Award was won by Chang Qiu, a third-year doctoral student in the lab of Haotian Wang, associate professor of ChBE. The Best Poster Award went to Omran Taqi, a second-year doctoral student in the lab of Lisa Biswal, the William M. McCardell Professor in ChBE.

The PetroPhase conferences started in Houston in 1999, when Irv Wiehe of Exxon chaired sessions on petroleum-phase behavior, upgrading and fouling as part of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers spring meeting. PetroPhase later separated and now is hosted by volunteers.