Marius Staahl Nilsen - NTNU
Marius Staahl Nilsen - NTNU

interview with a DrillWell researcher

Name: Marius Staahl Nilsen
Age: 26
Nationality: Norwegian
Education: M.Sc. in Petroleum Engineering (NTNU)

Department: NTNU - Department of Geoscience and Petroleum
Hi Marius, what are you working on right now? 
The main objective of my PhD is to investigate the rate of invasion of formation gas into a well while drilling overbalanced with an oil based mud (OBM). This type of influx is driven by diffusion, and is dependent on temperature, pressure, reservoir gas and drilling fluid characteristics, and the condition of the formation near the well. If a well is being held in a static condition for a longer period, gas can accumulate inside the well and dissolve into the OBM. I am currently trying to design a lab apparatus that can measure the rate of diffusion under different conditions. (These days I’m participating at an intensive course in thermodynamics at Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU) in Copenhagen. The course focuses on the computational aspect of fluid phase behavior; how to do the calculations efficiently and with high precision. I think it is important to gather physical data from the lab or the field, but it is just as important to be able to recreate the data in mathematical models so that it can be easily used for simulation purposes).

What do you find inspiring about the projects in which you are involved?
The project I am involved in focuses on developing models for increased well control simulations. From my own experience, the consensus is that we are in the clear of a gas influx as long as we are overbalanced. And as we all know, an undetected gas influx can lead to hazardous incidents. I hope that my work can help to make the drilling process even safer for the people involved and the surrounding environment. 

In your opinion, what are the main benefits by doing a PhD in a center with both academic and industry partners?
I think the main benefit is the possibility to share experiences and knowledge with each other. On the academic side, we have people with high quality and up-to-date knowledge in their respective fields, and the industry partners with real-life experiences about how things actually work. Another benefit is that with a good relationship and close communication with the industry, we can provide valuable knowledge and innovative technology to the industry if such intelligence is insufficient or non-existing. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
It is difficult to predict how my life will be in 10 years. Right now I am focusing on finishing my PhD. Maybe I will stay in the academics, maybe I will start working in the industry. Maybe I will stay in the petroleum industry, maybe I will do something completely different. I am open for every opportunities that I get, and I have to evaluate them as they appear. I can definitely see myself working as a researcher. But where? Only time will tell!