The Stanford University Petroleum Research Institute (SUPRI-A) is a university-industry consortium focused on education and research for the recovery of unconventional hydrocarbons. The SUPRI-A mission is twofold. First, the next generation of energy resource engineers are educated and trained. Second, we research a spectrum of techniques relevant to the production of unconventional resources containing heavy oil, light oil, and gas. This spectrum includes optimal primary recovery, an understanding of secondary recovery options, gas injection methods such as steam, air, and carbon dioxide, and chemical methods to augment water or gas injection. Steam injection, in-situ combustion, CO2 injection and other methods of enhancing recovery are developed and employed. A suite of recovery methods is reflected here to address the broad range of flow, rock, and geomechanical characteristics of unconventional hydrocarbon resources. This research has impact across near-, mid-, and long-term time frames.

Our core areas of expertise are laboratory-scale in-situ visualization of single and multiphase flow transport in porous media, convective heat transfer mechanisms, and the interplay of chemistry, phase behavior, reaction, and transport processes. Research within SUPRIA is currently divided into 5 areas: steam injection, in-situ combustion, enhanced recovery, microfluidics, and gas transport in shale. Click on the links below to learn more about each of these areas.

Diatomite and Steam Injection

In-Situ Combustion

Enhanced Recovery


Gas Transport in Shale



Key Technical Staff

Tony Kovscek is a Professor of Energy Resources Engineering. He has directed the SUPRI-A project since 1996. Bolivia Vega is a Research Associate. She holds an MS in Petroleum Engineering from Stanford and BS in Chemical Engineering. She joined SUPRI-A in 2007. Cindy Ross is a Research Associate. She holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Geology from the University of South Carolina. Affiliated currently with the group are 11 PhD and M.S. candidates.


  • X-ray CT scan visualization of multiphase (oil, water, gas) movement through porous media
  • Construction and use of microfluidic devices (micromodels) for direct visualization of multiphase flow in porous media
  • Oil and gas recovery from low permeability, fractured, porous media using water, gas, and steam injection techniques
  • In-situ combustion fundamentals, applications, and process upscaling.
  • Thermal recovery laboratory investigation using steam, air injection, and hot water
  • Formation evaluation of enhanced recovery projects.
  • Screening and planning of enhanced recovery field projects
  • Economics of enhanced recovery.