Innovation, research and technology projects

In an ever more technologically demanding sector, the focus on innovation, research and development of energy production in a safe, viable and competitive way is increasingly important. This innovation allows us to develop new business models, services and products, technologies and processes, with the ambition of improving the efficient use of energy, as well as reducing the environmental impact of our activities and those of third parties.

Investments in Innovation, research and technology (€m)

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
5.4 4.7 8.5 13.8 21 12,6
By 2021 we have planned to invest more than €90 m in R&D

Learn about our projects:

We want to overcome the technological challenges from our E&P activities in the different locations where we operate. To face all the challenges, we invest in various research and technological development programs.

One of our priorities is the use of new tools in E&P of the Brazilian pre-salt. To this end, we have decided to deepen our cooperation with the national and the Brazilian scientific universe, with the aim of developing a network of advanced E&P skills, organized in seven technological programs.


I. Methodologies for the prospecting and research of hydrocarbons In order to minimize the uncertainty associated with the exploration of hydrocarbons, we are developing an artificial intelligence assistant that interacts with the geoscientists in the seismic interpretation activities and in the creation of geological models, deepening the knowledge about the dynamics of the processes of oil generation, accumulation and (re)migration.
II. Reservoir modelling and characterization We have developed projects whose main objective is to increase the capacity to visualize and characterize the carbonate reservoirs, using new attributes and studies of seismic inversion. Additionally, we develop a technology of "Modified Stochastic Inversion" that enables to improve the prediction of the elastic properties of the reservoirs.

Development & Production (D&P)

III. Technologies and Methodologies for drilling and completion We invest in projects in order to maximize the production of hydrocarbons and minimize the risks associated with the drilling and competition stages of the producer wells. We are evaluating the corrosion resistance of different steels that can be used in O&G facilities, as well as CVD diamond coatings for sealing rings and drill bits.
IV. Reservoir management and simulation to maximize hydrocarbons recovery

We are developing several projects that contribute to the elimination of CO2 emissions by injecting this gas into the reservoir, in order to increase the hydrocarbon recovery factor.

1. Development of models to predict and study water invasion mechanisms in heterogeneous carbonate reservoirs;

2. Evaluation of sustainable biotechnological alternatives to increase the oil recovery factor in carbonate reservoirs;

3. Evaluation of the effect on oil recovery of alternating injection of low salinity water and CO2;

4. Development of models to evaluate the optimum CO2 injection conditions to maximize oil recovery;

5. Evaluation of the reservoirs’ microbiota behavior when submitted to the injection of CO2 and identification of its impact on oil production.

V. Infrastructure technology for offshore oil & gas production/marketing We invest in technological innovation applied to production/distribution facilities and equipment. We highlight our research in the selection of materials for pipelines in deep waters; the durability of mooring systems for use in ultra-deep waters; the evaluation of different submarine equipment combinations; and the evaluation of a membrane-based underwater system for the treatment and injection of seawater.
VI. Flow assurance We intend to develop multiphase flows simulators; evaluate the effects of CO₂ injection on asphaltene stability; evaluate the friction reduction in oil transport using additives and develop a new solution to simulate the flow in wells and production lines. The latter solution would be able to adapt to the Brazilian pre-salt problems, such as high CO2 content, high pressures and long distances.
VII. Production and primary processing systems dedicated to CO2 management

Of the initiated projects, two share the goal of carbon capture, separation and storage:

  • CO₂ fixation through natural gas dry reforming using bimetallic catalysts in microchannel systems;
  • Development of a compact size industrial solution for the separation of CO2 and CH4.

The use of CO2 as a raw material in industrial processes, in order to obtain higher value-added products, has also been studied.

Projects for innovative carbon capture solutions

We promote the use of carbon as a resource. Galp’s research and innovation activities are geared towards new sustainable business opportunities. We are committed to find new disruptive technologies to enable us to decrease the environmental impact of our global operations, focusing on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). Faced with technological challenges resulting from our E&P activities, we moved forward with the development of seven Carbon R&D and innovation projects concerning to CCUS, within the following areas of interest:

1. Utilization of CO2 as a feedstock in industrial processes;

2. Development of sustainable and competitive technologies for the separation of CO2/CH4;

3. Development of a new simulator to minimize the problems associated with oil flow production with a high CO2 content; and

4. Increasing the oil recovery factor through the reinjection of CO2, either standalone or mixed with water.

As the only refining company in Portugal, Galp regards investment in I&TD as strategic in order to:

Create value and promote differentiation in products Innovate in processes to achieve greater efficiency in operations Mitigating the environmental impacts

In its original form, crude oil has little use - its value lies in the products that can be obtained from it, such as fuels, naphthas, solvents and gases connected to oil (for instance, LPG). Refining is the industrial activity that breaks down crude oil into a series of products that are very valuable for everyday use.

Optimization of the Quality of Waste Water in the Sines Refinery

The identification and elimination of the causes of ammonia contamination eliminated the cost associated with this specific treatment, and through the development of an online model for the prediction of oils and fats contamination, the expected impacts were minimized. The project also identified, as an opportunity to explore, a possible treatment of exhausted soda by nanofiltration, which will allow its reuse, reducing the use of fresh caustic soda and a significant reduction of wastewater contamination.

Development of Bitumen and Analysis of the Production Process

This project allowed to learn in detail the chemical composition of components and bitumen produced in the Matosinhos refinery, as well as to relate these with the application characteristics. Based on the knowledge acquired, it was also possible to change the formulations of the three grades of bitumen and thus improve the quality of these products. These aspects led to a significant increase in sales, namely of 160-220 bitumen to Spain, transforming a product that was difficult to penetrate in the market into another that was unanimously accepted.

NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) in Characterizing Procedural Currents of Heavy Residues

The use of NMR, besides increasing the speed at which analytical results are obtained, has been fundamental in determining product properties, namely contaminants, as well as in developing applications for predicting characteristics of gasoline and fuel oil, for the purpose of product validation and procedural control. Based on the use of this technique, a mathematical model of fuel oil viscosity prediction, already implemented in the fuel oil production control system, was developed at the fuel factory of the Matosinhos refinery, contributing to the optimization of the use of fluxes in fuel oil production, with considerable economic savings.

Mercaptan Extraction from Jet Fuel Streams using Ionic Liquids

This doctoral project allowed to prove the potential for mercaptan removal from jet/oil, assisted by ionic liquids, and procedural operations assisted by membranes. The studies carried out led to gaining knowledge about the use of new processes for separation and application of ionic liquids, which are increasingly important substances in the oil industry. This contributed to the preparation of a project, to be implemented in the short term, for developing a purification methodology for solvents produced by Galp, an alternative to current commercial solutions, and which is expected to be more competitive.

Optimization of the Acid Gas Treatment Network in the Sines Refinery

The objective of this project was to solve problems resulting from amine contamination with hydrocarbons and the loss of amine inventory in its closed loop system, in gas treatment plants, in the refinery’s Plants 1 and 2. Thus, conducting this study allowed the optimization of these units by reducing the temperature differential (amine-gas) to the recommended target values, maximizing the effectiveness of gas treatment. In addition, the study also led to reducing steam consumption used in amine regeneration.

View the case studies of eco-efficiency in refineries.


Ongoing EngIQ PhD Programme Projects

There are currently more PhDs programmes running at different progress stages. These new studies have enabled a better understanding of the phenomena involved in the different processes carried out in refineries, allowing to define solutions and/or mitigation ways for the same problems in the future.

Application of infrared spectroscopy, High-resolution gas chromatography, and 1H NMR, in the study and classification of crudes for the purpose of Quality Control and Refining

Based on existing historical data on physico-chemical properties of different crudes and in analysis to be carried out by the techniques described above, we intend to develop studies to assess in what way treated crude oil in refineries, can be classified in groups/"families" determined by property relations. This classification will be very important to predict its performance during processing or to estimate the behavior of unexplored or treated crude oil for the first time in refineries. This is also relevant in quality control of crude in refineries, and/or in the identification of incompatible raw materials with a tendency to cause problems per se or in the resulting refined products.

Optimized Management of the Water Network using the PINCH Methodology

The PhD objective is to develop a tool for an optimized management, in real-time, of the Sines Refinery's water network, from raw water to the WWTP effluent, taking into account analytical results, effluent price ranges, and raw water and energy prices. To this end, the pinch methodology should be used for key contaminants. As a result of the application of this methodology, opportunities for water reuse involving facility modifications may be identified. In these cases, in order to support this modification, a duly substantiated cost-benefit analysis should be presented.

Production of advanced biofuels in the FCC unit

We aim to explore and develop an advanced raw materials co-processing knowledge in the FCC unit, with the objective of producing 2nd generation biofuels.

Development of process for the purification of Hexane and Heptane solvents ("commercial grade") based on Ionic Liquids

The Matosinhos Refinery manufactures Heptane and Hexane solvents ("commercial grade"), which can be used in food, pharmaceutical and polymer industries. In order to meet the expectations demanded by these industries, the refinery intends to study and develop new refining methodologies that allow a more sustainable purification of these solvents, using more favorable resources instead of the classic processes of hydro-treatment, that demand greater quantities of energy, hydrogen and heavy metals catalysts.

Energy Integration of Processing Units in the Sines Refinery Using the PINCH Methodology

This project intends to analyze the heat recovery potential of the Sines refinery, considering all the processing units, particularly, to study retrofit solutions that are viable for the energy integration of all the refinery’s existing processing units.

Energy Optimization at the Matosinhos Refinery Aromatics Plant

This project aims to identify and study possible scenarios for the renovation of the aromatics plant of the Matosinhos refinery. The goal is to increase its overall energy efficiency and to achieve a better performance, not only in terms of reducing energy consumption, but also in terms of environmental impacts and their costs.

Chemical Transformations in EOR

The objectives of this project are to study the chemical changes caused in oil and rock by injecting co-adjuvants and to develop new EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) techniques, and the performance of laboratory tests to these new techniques, as well as a scale-up projection and implementation of the results, in order to include them in reservoir simulations.

Properties of Diesel / FAME Systems: Identification of Causes and Mechanisms Connected to “Chemical Aging” and Change in Cold Flow Properties

The objective of this PhD is to understand the negative impacts related to the incorporation of biodiesel in diesel, for example, the cold flow properties and oxidation stability in the raw materials, or in blends of diesel with biodiesel. Deepening knowledge in these areas will allow to: 1) implement actions and methodologies that prevent, minimize or avoid the degradation of the oxidation stability characteristic of diesel containing biodiesel; and 2) establish actions and methodologies that allow for optimizing the cold flow properties of diesel with biodiesel, minimizing costs and ensuring product performance quality.

Optimization of Refinery Effluent Treatment Processes and Minimization of Impact Risks in the Surrounding Environment

The quality of the effluent released by the refineries is a highly important aspect, not only for its impacts on the environment, but also for the costs that arise from its treatment, or from the rates that are applied according to the contaminants present. This project aims, in effect, to identify and implement effluent treatment processes that are economically viable in the refinery of Sines. Its starting point will be characterizing the effluents and analyzing of the impacts of several processes, namely by implementing advanced oxidation processes and optimizing separation processes using membranes.

Reducing Phenols in the Manufacturing Industrial Effluent II

Crude oil processing and effluent generation has been a problem in recent years due to the increase in global energy needs, leading to the increase of environmental constraints. It is important to develop sustainable and efficient technologies to treat effluents and provide a re-use of resources. Conventional processes are becoming increasingly obsolete, as they fail to comply with the restrictions imposed for effluent discharge. Thus, this PhD aims to increase knowledge regarding technologies that allow an efficient treatment of effluents at source, in order to increase the quality of the final effluent.

Estimation of Oil Product Properties Based on High Resolution NIR and 1H NMR Combined Technologies

This PhD will analytically characterize various oil products and develop mathematical models that relate the corresponding properties to the respective data obtained from each of the techniques - NIR and 1H NMR. These models will be applied in the control of manufacturing processes and product enabling circuits for the market, in the hopes of obtaining fast and accurate results. It is also expected that these results will have an impact on the increase in revenue, decrease in variability and rapid availability of the final product.

Development of Inferential Sensors for Forecasting Relevant Properties in Gasoline and Diesel

This PhD project has the objective of developing inferential sensors, in order to quickly predict the relevant properties of gasoline and diesel. This will allow an increase in the shipping rate of both types of products of the Sines refinery. The models to be developed, in addition to allowing rapid access to product property estimates - increasing the speed of decision making - will also enable online process monitoring and control - minimizing storage utilization and increasing blending efficiency. This contributes to the development of methodologies that shorten the production time, being a factor of increase in competitiveness.

Development of RON Inferential Statistics for Semi-Regenerative and Continuous Catalytic Reforming Units

This PhD aims to develop a mathematical model that can predict a specific feature - RON or Research Octane Number - based on online processing variables such as pressure, temperature and flow rate, as well as variations in the cargo composition to the units. It is expected that the implementation of the RON model in Advanced Control can contribute to a considerable minimization of the amount of processing energy required, as well as reducing the giveaway.

Advanced Membranes and membrane assisted processes for pre- and post- combustion CO2 capture (MEMBER)

In 2018, we participated in the project «Advanced Membranes and membrane assisted processes for pre- and post- combustion CO2 capture (MEMBER)» with the aim of developing novel membrane-based technologies for pre- and post- combustion CO2 capture at power plants, as well as H2 generation with integrated CO2 capture. As a deliverable, an advanced membrane-based prototype will be tested for post-combustion CO2 capture in our facilities.