Research Interests

Dr. Toelle has performed research into various, cutting-edge, industry-related subjects for a number of years. The following are currently his main research interests.

FlareNitro - Produced Natural Gas Flaring Mitigation

Brian has recently been awarded a provisional patent on a methodology designed to mitigate the flaring of natural gas at oil well sites. During oil production in some geologic plays the oil produced has a high volitile content and gas comes out of solution when the oil comes to the surface due to the release of pressure. Dr. Toelle and his co-inventor, Dr. Maohong Fan, have developed a new method for capturing this gas which is referred to as "FlareNitro". (Please see this video for more information.)

NitroTube - Wildfire Supression

Brian recognized the potential of re-purposing certain oil and gas industry components for fighting wildfires, which he named "NitroTube". Brian formed a research group in this area and, with the help of his co-inventors, Dr. Suresh Muknahallipatna and Dr. Robert Kubichek, obtained a provisional patent on the technology. (Please see this link to the research group's home page for more infromation on NitroTube.)

Seismic-Based Porosity and Fracture Detection

In 2001 Brian became interested in seismic-based fracture detection methods while working on a consulting project for one of Schlumberger's major clients. During this project Brian analyzed a number of 2-D seismic lines with regard to various seismic attributes and the occurrence of a fracture-enhanced reservoir. He noted specific changes in certain seismic attributes in the presence of open, natural, linear fracture trends within various reservoirs. Since that project Brian has continued this research, conducting a number of investigations, including his own PhD research, into the effect of open fracture systems on seismic attributes. As a result of some of his research Brian obtained a patent for Schlumberger during 2005 (Patent No. 6,941,228).

Additionally, Brian has extended this research into porosity detection. While conducting research for the Department of Energy he noted a relationship between certain seismic frequency responses and the presence of porosity within the study's reservoir. He is continuing this research.

Full, 3D Petroleum Systems Analysis

Brian became interested in Basin Analysis at the end of the 1980's when he performed two basin analyses for Texaco in offshore California, He continued to follow the progress made in the area as full, 3D Petroleum Systems Modeling capabilities were developed. Currently Brian is applying this advanced analytical technique to basins within Wyoming and has formed the Wyoming Petroleum Systems Research Group.

4D Seismic Analysis and Reservoir Monitoring

Brian's Ph.D. research included the monitoring of injected CO2 within a subsurface reservoir for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery. During this research Brian used 4-D seismic difference mapping to identify where within a carbonate reservoir, Silurian aged pinnacle reef in the northern Michigan basin, CO2 had flowed once injected at a particular well location. This research was funded by the US Department of Energy (DE-FC26-04NT15425) and has implications with regard to CO2 sequestration. (DOE brochure, p.18)

Azimuthal Seismic

In addition to the enhanced oil recovery project mentioned above Brian's PhD research also investigated the interpretation of Azimuthal Seismic volumes for discriminating between matrix porosity and fracture systems within carbonate reservoirs. This on-going research has significant implications with regard to the characterization of reservoirs with respect to their development, particularly during the enhanced oil recovery phase.