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Revealing geological secrets: Introducing the TECH Center & Lab

Reading time: 4 min

Wouldn’t it be great if you could see whether oil and gas reservoirs were present by looking at core samples from thousands of meters of rock? This – and more – is precisely what the OMV Upstream laboratory does at the TECH Center & Lab in Gänserndorf. Linda Kirchberger, Head of TECH Center & Lab, explains what the lab represents and where she sees its strengths and opportunities for the future.


Despite advances in digitization, physical core samples continue to provide concrete information from deep within the Earth. Interpreting the crucial information from these core samples for possible signs of oil or gas is one of the main tasks of the OMV TECH Center & Lab in Gänserndorf, Austria. 


Besides this there’s a lot more going on, as Linda Kirchberger explains: “After a seismic study is evaluated and a possible reservoir is identified by the geologists, a well is planned and a drilling rig is set up. While drilling the well, a core sample is taken”. In a next step, the core is examined thoroughly by the Formation Characterization team, i.e. the geology department. It’s their job to answer questions like: How was this rock formed? Is it porous or not? Can oil and gas flow through the rock? Will we be able to produce from this reservoir? “To a non-expert, this core sample simply looks like a cylindrical piece of rock. For our experts in the TECH Center & Lab, it provides a detailed insight into millions of years of geologic events”, says Linda. The findings are essential for planning further drilling campaigns and ensuring optimal production. 


And it’s not only core samples that the lab team studies: “Every year around 9,500 samples (oil, gas, water, polymer, resources) are analyzed and interpreted by our colleagues from the Fluid Analytics & Production Chemistry department in order to support all activities related to drilling operations as effectively as possible and to optimize existing facilities”, says Linda. 


The physical properties of the core sample are subsequently tested by the department of Petrophysics & Reservoir Technology. Detailed analyses with state-of-the-art experimental setups – these are complex measuring devices for scientific testing – are conducted to gain further information on the properties of the rock and fluid-rock interactions.

To operate a drilling rig in a safe and sustainable way, the appropriate material is selected and protected against corrosion.

As Linda explains: “Engineering of a new facility always relies on the expertise of our Materials & Corrosion department. The team determine material fit for purpose to ensure safe operations over the entire service life. It’s best if we prevent corrosion from the very beginning – and we work on this by utilizing cutting-edge technologies”.

Four competency centers – a single goal

The close cooperation between all four departments gives OMV`s TECH Center & Lab its unique strength. Interdisciplinary cooperation spanning a huge range of competencies and skills is what yields integrated solutions for all OMV projects, production facilities, units and branch offices, wherever they are in the world. There’s one thing Linda is particularly proud of: “Our TECH Center & Lab Team is now more international than ever before. Currently we are around 45 engineers and experts – from Masters’ graduates to PhDs to graduates from technical colleges and apprentices”. She adds: “What makes the TECH Center & Lab and the work here so special and always keeps me motivated is our team who works on new ideas with passion and a constant drive for knowledge and solutions”.

We are strongly solution-oriented and focused on our customer requirements. What this means is that we are all experts in our highly technical niches, but we don’t see our job as simply handing over data and analysis results. Instead we apply our expertise together with our customers in order to find sustainable solutions for problems and to develop and apply new technologies. We deliver tailor-made solutions supporting the entire life cycle of an oil or gas field to ensure safe operations, optimizing risks and costs, and generating secure earnings.
Linda Kirchberger, Head of TECH Center & Lab bei OMV

Many years of experience and the constant involvement of the TECH Center & Lab team of the New Technologies department in all Upstream projects worldwide provides a solid basis for testing and evaluating new and existing technologies with regard to applicability and relevance. And what can we expect next? Linda has the answer: “I see our largest challenge and opportunity as being digitization, where loads of possibilities still need to be explored. Here we will also make use of our existing synergies to exploit further potential for the TECH Center & Lab. We provide the historic knowledge and this is the foundation for building the solutions and developments of the future”.

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