University of Alaska Fairbanks

Petroleum Engineering Challenge

Challenge Winners

Congratulations Max Martell (UAF), Stephen Nemethy III (UAF) and S.A. Keyes (Purdue) on winning the 2014 UAF Petroleum Engineering Design Competition! See their proposal .

All submissions were carefully evaluated by professors within the UAF Petroleum Engineering Department, UAF eLearning & Distance Education professionals, and senior engineers at BP and ConocoPhillips.

Heavy Oil Development in the Presence of Permafrost

Pick your team, solve the problem, collect your prize!

Heavy Oil Reservoir Data


Average porosity = 25%-35%

Average permeability = 500millidarcy-2 darcy

Average viscosity = 1000-10,000 cp  in situ

Reservoir temperature = 65 degF

Reservoir pressure = 1450 psi

Petroleum Challenge diagram

Figure 1: Idealized diagram of the stratigraphic sequence in a typical heavy oil reservoir in the North Slope of Alaska.


  1. Propose an internally coherent engineering solution or technical proposal to solve the problem of producing heavy oil from a reservoir with the above properties. One of the primary challenges is that the engineering solution must preserve the integrity of the permafrost layer (see Figure 1).
  2. Your proposal must be peer reviewed by other students. Your proposal must take into consideration their comments and be reflected in subsequent revisions. Process is important.
  3. Individual groups will determine their own methods of collaboration.


The technical proposal must contain at a minimum the following:

  1. Technical justification for your idea (rooted in the physics of the process or in previous literature.)
  2. A presentation of the idea, which must contain an element of peer review.
  3. A presentation component (for example, a video presentation of your team proposal) no longer than 10 minutes.
  4. Proposal document in PDF format no longer than 10 pages including tables and figures but not including references and peer reviews.


Applicant teams must consist of undergraduate or graduate engineering students enrolled in a U.S. college/university.

Teams must be comprised of two to five students and at least one person in each team must be from a different college/university.

Participants can connect with petroleum engineering students from around the country in the Petroleum Engineering Research community on Google+. All students should post to the "Eng. Challenge Introduction" category with a brief introduction that includes name, school, expected graduation year and a brief bio.


December 1, 2014.
Winners will be announced by December 12, 2014.


Submit your completed proposals to the "Challenge Submissions" category in the Petroleum Engineering Research community on Google+. Use the "link" option to link to your completed PDF proposal documents and use other sharing options as necessary to share your final products.

In order to link to your completed PDF documents, you will have to host them from another shareable location (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.). Make sure to grant appropriate sharing permissions (viewable to the public but not changeable).

Your submissions are due before midnight on December 1, AKST. All submissions will be reviewed by a panel. If you have any questions about submitting, contact Owen Guthrie at


Questions should be posted to the Petroleum Engineering Research community on Google+.


The winning team (if two to four people) will receive a $2,000 lump sum, provided by University of Alaska Fairbanks eLearning. If a team of five wins, $2,500 will be awarded.