Group photo of the Pelican team with Professor Rachel O'Reilly (front right)
The Pelican team with Professor Rachel O'Reilly front row, right

BP Project Pelican, a collaboration between BP Upstream Technology Subsurface Technology Centre, the University of Birmingham's School of Chemistry and Kernow Analytical Technology Ltd, is the Royal Society of Chemistry Industry-Academia Collaboration Award winner for 2018.

The primary team leads are Dr Emma Chapman, BP and Professor Rachel O’Reilly, University of Birmingham.

The collaboration has invented and developed new polymers that help recover oil from oil reservoirs. The polymers help with an oil recovery technique called waterflooding, whereby water is injected into an oil reservoir to both maintain reservoir pressure and push oil towards the producing well.  A small amount of polymer is added to the waterflood to increase its viscosity and improve its sweeping ability. The main drawback of traditional polymer treatments is that they are single application and repeated treatments are necessary.

Pelican is a different class of polymer that has the ability to move with the waterflood and removes the need for repeat treatments.

Reflecting on her team winning the award, Professor Rachel O'Reilly said: "It is wonderful for the Pelican team to receive such an award. There have been lots of postdocs and students from my group who have contributed to the project over the last 7 years and I am delighted all their hard work has been recognised through this award."

Dr Emma Chapman, BP, said: “BP and the University of Birmingham are delighted to receive this award from the Royal Society of Chemistry.  Enhanced oil recovery is a key area of research and development for BP and this project has innovative polymer science at the core of a new technology.  Collaboration between industry and academia is increasing in both the chemistry and oil industry arenas and we are privileged to be recognised for our work.

The strength of the Pelican project has been the unique way in which a major oil operator, a recognised academic group and a niche service company have interacted to solve a complex problem.  The different skill sets in the identification, polymer synthesis design, testing and then commercialisation of such a new technology were recognised by all parties.  It made for a very strong team, who constantly interacted, allowing the team to learn with real speed and develop the technology.  BP and Birmingham would like to thank KAT Ltd. for the enthusiastic way in which they supported the project, rising to meet the challenges and become an integral part of the team.  Technology plays a strong role in BP and a steady support for this project has allowed its potential to be realised, as it moves towards field deployment.”

The Industry-Academia Collaboration Award is awarded for the invention and development of a new class of temperature responsive zwitter-ionic polymers for enhanced oil recovery.

Dr Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said:

“The chemical sciences are vital for the wellbeing of our world and chemical scientists help to change people’s lives for the better. That’s why we’re so proud to celebrate the innovation and expertise of our community through our Prizes and Awards.

“This year’s inspiring and influential winners come from a range of specialisms, backgrounds, countries and communities. Each has done their bit to advance excellence in the chemical sciences – to improve the lives of people around the world now and in the future.”

Our winners are recognised for the originality and impact of their research, or for their contributions to the chemical sciences industry or chemistry education. The Awards also acknowledge the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences and the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.

An illustrious list of 50 previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including 2016 Nobel laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa.

To find out more, please follow the link below:

RSC - Prizes and awards 2018