Professor Jim Underschultz

Sub-Surface Program Director

UQ Energy Initiative
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Overview

With over 25 years’ experience, more than 50 publications on the subject, Jim has an international reputation in petroleum hydrogeology and carbon capture and storage projects. He is currently holding the Professorial Chair of Petroleum Hydrodynamics at the Centre for Coal Seam Gas at the University of Queensland. Prior to this Jim was managing the research program for ANLEC R&D with an annual research budget of ~$18 million AUS applied to more than 50 active research projects supporting Australia’s CCS demonstration. He sat on the Sustainable Energy for the Square Kilometre Array (SESKA) geothermal project control group and the Australian Standards mirror committee for international standards on carbon capture and storage. Previously, Jim was the CSIRO Lead for the Unconventional Petroleum and Geothermal Energy R&D program, with more 50 Full Time Equivalents and an annual budget of ~$16 million/yr AUS and he concurrently managed the hydrodynamics and geochemistry discipline group within the Australian Cooperative Research Centre on CO2 (CO2CRC).

Research Interests

  • Fluid flow in porous media and hydrodynamic seals analysis
    Recently Jim’s research has focused on petroleum hydrodynamics of faulted strata and the incorporation of hydrodynamics into seals analysis with application to both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons, geothermal energy and carbon storage. At the Centre for Coal Seam Gas Jim has an interest in research on: - CSG Reservoir performance and compartmenalisation - CSG water quality forecasting - Hydrodynamic systems analysis

Research Impacts

Jim's early research in Canada, pioneered the characterisation of hydrodynamic systems in thrust fold belts that contributed to successful development of some Canadian foothills conventional gas discoveries.

Jim's work on the initial assessment of coal bed methane potential in Alberta helped form the pre-competative data that provided the foundation of a new resource type to be developed. His work on faults and hydrodynamics brought him to Australia to assist in the first hydrodynamic assessment of Australia's NW Shelf that provided industry a basis for pre-drill de-risking of fault seals.

Jim translated his knowledge of seals analysis unconventional gas to applications for Carbon Storage, teaming up with Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and participating in the Frio carbon storage pilot in Texas.

His experience provided him the opportunity to take a leading role in the development of carbon storage research in Australia, including the design and execution of Australia’s first carbon storage demonstration at the CO2CRC Otway site in Victoria. The success of Otway led to Australia's investment in the CCS Flagship program.

Jim's current research associated with hydrodynamic processes relating to Coal Seam Gas in Australia is helping lay the foundation for de-risking uncertainty in production performance and aquifer integrity. This supports Australia's ability to capture a share of the rapidly developing international gas market and enables a global shift from coal to gas.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Curtin University
  • Master of Science, University of Alberta
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Alberta

Publications

View all Publications

Grants

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Supervision

  • (2019) Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • UQ collaboration with the CSIRO

    Sedimentary basins host important groundwater resources in Australia. Due to their large size, groundwater can be important to multiple users from multiple industries, including the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry. Regional scale groundwater modelling is critical to understand water movement within sedimentary basins and to predict cumulative impacts from groundwater pumping on water users and the environment.

    Regional groundwater models are based on hydrogeological conceptualisations developed using 3D geological models and knowledge of aquifer and aquitard properties and boundary conditions. However, the representation of geological structures such as faults and the hydraulic property attribution of aquifers and aquitards in groundwater models are often informed by sparse data, resulting in large scale uncertainties of the model impact predictions.

    Available PHD Topic: Characterisation and parameterisation of uncertainty induced by faults in regional groundwater models

    This PhD project will focus on the characterisation and representation of the macroscopic hydraulic properties of faults in regional scale groundwater models and quantification of associated uncertainties. The student will apply methods from groundwater and petroleum system approaches for solving a real-world problem of quantifying uncertainty induced by geological structures in the simulation of hydrological variables using a regional scale groundwater model in co-operation with Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA), University of Queensland (UQ) and CSIRO.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Mehreen, Syeda U. and Underschultz, Jim R. (2018). Economic synergies from tighter agri-business and coal seam gas integration. In Gokhan Egilmez (Ed.), Agriculture value chain (pp. 199-224) London, United Kingdom: InTechOpen. doi:10.5772/intechopen.73195

  • Underschultz, Jim, Dodds, Kevin, Michael, Karsten , Sharma, Sandeep , Wall, Terry and Whittaker, Steve (2017). Carbon capture and storage. In Sheila Devasahayam, Kim Dowling and Manoj K. Mahapatra (Ed.), Sustainability in the mineral and energy sectors (pp. 437-452) Boca Raton, FL, United States: Taylor &​ Francis Group. doi:10.1201/9781315369853-24

  • Underschultz, Jim (2017). Unconventional Gas. In Sheila Devasahayam, Kim Dowling and Manoj K. Mahapatra (Ed.), Sustainability in the mineral and energy sectors (pp. 545-560) Boca Raton, FL, United States: Taylor &​ Francis Group. doi:10.1201/9781315369853-29

  • Langhi, Laurent, Zhang, Yanhua, Gartrell, Anthony, Brincat, Mark P., Lisk, Mark, Underschultz, Jim and Dewhurst, David (2013). Mechanism of Upfault Seepage and Seismic Expression of Hydrocarbon Discharge Sites from the Timor Sea. In Fred Aminzadeh, Timothy B. Berge and David L. Connolly (Ed.), Hydrocarbon Seepage: From Source to Surface (pp. 11-41) Tulsa, OK, United States: Society of Exploration Geophysicists. doi:10.1190/1.9781560803119.ch2

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • UQ collaboration with the CSIRO

    Sedimentary basins host important groundwater resources in Australia. Due to their large size, groundwater can be important to multiple users from multiple industries, including the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry. Regional scale groundwater modelling is critical to understand water movement within sedimentary basins and to predict cumulative impacts from groundwater pumping on water users and the environment.

    Regional groundwater models are based on hydrogeological conceptualisations developed using 3D geological models and knowledge of aquifer and aquitard properties and boundary conditions. However, the representation of geological structures such as faults and the hydraulic property attribution of aquifers and aquitards in groundwater models are often informed by sparse data, resulting in large scale uncertainties of the model impact predictions.

    Available PHD Topic: Characterisation and parameterisation of uncertainty induced by faults in regional groundwater models

    This PhD project will focus on the characterisation and representation of the macroscopic hydraulic properties of faults in regional scale groundwater models and quantification of associated uncertainties. The student will apply methods from groundwater and petroleum system approaches for solving a real-world problem of quantifying uncertainty induced by geological structures in the simulation of hydrological variables using a regional scale groundwater model in co-operation with Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA), University of Queensland (UQ) and CSIRO.