Eric Daniels
Senior Research Scientist
ChevronTexaco Energy Research & Technology Company
Richmond, California

BS Geology, SUNY at Binghamton, Binghamton NY, 1985;
MS Geology, U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL 1989; Ph.D. Geology, U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL 1992

Areas of Expertise:
Quantitative clay mineralogy; geochemistry of sedimentary rocks; sedimentary diagenesis; rock-fluid reactions, experiments and simulation; oilfield chemistry and well performance optimization.

How I became interested in clays

I was always attracted to rocks and science. As a kid, I thought I would go into astronomy, though I always loved stomping around in the mud. I found geology in college, but was interested in some many aspects of geology that I couldn’t decide what to specialize in. It wasn’t until my third year of college that I was even introduced to the wide wonderful of clays, but once that happened it was a career-deciding event. I felt that I needed a balance between going into some interesting science field and finding something that could get me a job. Clays turned out to be fascinating as well as applicable and useful in a wide range of industries. Plus, there just weren’t that many people in the field of clay science, which I liked because I like to feel that I am doing something different from the norm. I even remember the reaction of my parents when I told them I was going into geology and wanted to become a Clay Mineralogist. They hadn’t a clue that I could actually get paid to do something like that! I think they (and I) were pleasantly surprised at how things turned out.

What I do at my job

I work for Chevron in their corporate research laboratory, helping to make sure that their wells, worldwide, keep flowing as efficiently as possible. When a well isn’t performing to expectations, I am called in to help diagnose what is the problem, how to solve the problem in that well (get it back on production or injection target volumes), and how to prevent the problem from happening in other wells. It involves designing, conducting and interpreting analyses of rocks and waters, rock-fluid reaction experiments, geochemical reaction simulations, plus a lot of common sense and intuition. I work primarily with engineers, who do not have a lot of background in geology and chemistry, so it puts me in a unique position to demonstrate the importance of integrating geologic and geochemical data (including good experimental and analytical lab methods) into engineering practices. I believe that I provide a much-needed geological perspective that is typically missing in engineering decisions and practices. I greatly enjoy the real-world practical aspect of what I do, and seeing my recommendations directly applied in the field.

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