UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Russell Johns, professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering at Penn State, was 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 presented to select individuals who have made significant advancements over the years in improved oil recovery technology.
The highly selective award is given every two years to three to five individuals and has been presented to 90 individuals since its inauguration in 1984. Johns was one of four recipients for the 2022 award. The awards were presented at the SPE Improved Oil Recovery Conference held virtually April 25 through 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 displacements, which are considered classic papers and are widely referenced.
“I am honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Johns, who holds the George E. Trimble Chair of Energy and Mineral Sciences in Penn State’s John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. “This award is one of the most meaningful awards I have obtained to date, as many of those I have looked up to over the years have won this award.”
Johns specializes in advanced oil recovery research. His research on using water, carbon dioxide and surfactants has led to more efficient drilling practices. About two-thirds of available oil is left behind after primary and secondary recovery methods are employed, said Johns, whose research has contributed to significant gains in extraction of oil by tertiary methods. This leaves a large target for recovery by enhanced oil-recovery techniques that can improve the efficiency of every well. Improving the efficiency of every well also helps the environment by avoiding drilling new wells.
Before joining the Penn State faculty, Johns served on the petroleum engineering faculty at the University of Texas at Austin from 1995 to 2010. He also has nine years of industrial experience as a petrophysical engineer with Shell Oil and as a consulting engineer for Colenco Power Consulting in Baden, Switzerland.
Johns has received many international accolades from SPE. In 1993 he received the Ferguson Medal in 1993; in 2009 he received the Distinguished Member Award; in 2013 he the Faculty Pipeline Award; and in 2016 he received the Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award. He also served as a Distinguished SPE Lecturer for 2019–20.
Johns earned his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Northwestern University, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in petroleum engineering, both from Stanford University.