Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering Professor Receives Pioneer Award

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — Russell Johns, a professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering at Penn State, has been selected to receive the 2022 Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) Pioneer Award from the International Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). The SPE IOR Pioneer Award is given to selected individuals who have made significant progress over the years in improved oil recovery technology.

The highly selective award is given every two years to three to five people and has been presented to 90 people since its inauguration in 1984. Johns was one of four recipients of the 2022 award. The awards were presented at the SPE conference Improved Oil Recovery held virtually April 25-29.

The award recognizes Johns’ major contributions to the understanding of unconventional resource recovery and for the breadth of papers he has published on phase behavior with miscible gas shifts, which are considered classic papers and are widely referenced.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Johns, George E. Trimble Professor of Energy and Mineral Sciences in the John and Willie Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. Leone from Penn State. “This award is one of the most meaningful awards I have received to date, as many of those I have admired over the years have won this award.”

Johns specializes in advanced oil recovery research. His research into the use of water, carbon dioxide and surfactants has led to more efficient drilling practices. About two-thirds of available oil is left behind after using primary and secondary recovery methods, said Johns, whose research has contributed to significant gains in oil extraction by tertiary methods. This leaves a broad target for recovery through enhanced oil recovery techniques that can improve the efficiency of each well. Improving the efficiency of each well also helps the environment by avoiding drilling new wells.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Johns served on the Petroleum Engineering faculty at the University of Texas at Austin from 1995 to 2010. He also has nine years of industry experience as a petrophysical engineer with Shell Oil and as a consulting engineer at Colenco Power Consulting. in Baden, Switzerland.

Johns has received numerous international accolades from SPE. In 1993 he was awarded the Ferguson Medal in 1993; in 2009, he received the Distinguished Member Award; in 2013, he received the Faculty Pipeline Award; and in 2016 he received the Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award. He was also an SPE Distinguished Lecturer for 2019-2020.

Johns earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University, as well as his MS and PhD degrees in Petroleum Engineering, both from Stanford University.

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