Ali Shafiei

School of Mining and Geosciences
Assistant Professor

Dr. Ali Shafiei is currently a Professor (Assist.) of Petroleum Engineering in the School of Mining and Geosciences, Nazarbayev University. He is the founder and director of Shafiei’s Advanced EOR & Flow Assurance Lab. So far he has graduated 9 MSc students. The Shafiei’s Lab currently has 14 team members plus 2 admin assistants.

He obtained his Ph.D. (March 2013) under supervision of Prof. Maurice B. Dusseault in “Thermal Heavy Oil Recovery and Petroleum Reservoir Geomechanics” from the University of Waterloo in Canada. Dr. Shafiei has worked in different countries and various positions as Assistant Professor, Research Associate, Postdoctoral Fellow, and Consultant of petroleum engineering, geoscience, and geomechanics prior to joining the Nazarbayev University in September 2017. He is the founding team member of Petroleum Engineering Program in Nazarbayev University.

Dr. Shafiei’s current research interests include EOR/IOR (i.e., thermal, chemical, and nano processes), flow assurance, asphaltene precipitation and inhibition, application of AI and ML in petroleum engineering, nanofluidic and macrofluidic studies, application of Molecular Dynamics Simulation in EOR and flow assurance studies, well logging and formation evaluation, and petroleum geomechanics.

Dr. Shafiei has over a decade of Canadian and international research, graduate supervision, teaching, training, and consulting/industry experience in the petroleum Exploration & Production (E&P) industry. He was a scientific adviser to the Alberta Department of Energy (Alberta, Canada) in 2014 served as a member of the Innovative Energy Technology Program (IETP 2014) to review progress reports on various full scale field trials that the Alberta DoE was involved with various oil and gas companies in Canada on heavy oil recovery and geological CO2 sequestration. Dr. Shafiei is also a long time active member of the SPE and EAGE. In 2018, he became an official short course instructor for EAGE with his unique and signature short course entitled: “Introduction to Heavy Oil: Genesis, Properties, Distribution, Recovery Technologies, and Upgrading.”

Available positions in Shafiei’s Lab

A number of openings (~15 positions) as of January 2021 are available in Dr. Shafiei’s lab including MSc and PhD positions, Postodctoral Fellowship (PDF), Research Assistant (RA) (i.e., both BSc and MSc holders), and undergraduate research positions (i.e., summer internship). 

The interested candidates are encouraged to contact Dr. Shafiei in this regard. Graduates of Bolashak program and alumni of PE/CHE programs (in English only) from Kazakhstani universities (i.e., NU, KBTU, and Satbayev) are highly encouraged to apply. Highly qualified international applications are also welcome. The selection process is merits based and highly competitive based on applicants’ academic background, research skills and experience, and English writing skills. 

Current funded projects (2019-2022)

  1. Experimental, modeling (i.e., numerical modeling, and molecular dynamics simulation studies), and simulation studies of low salinity water flooding and its variants in both sandstone and carbonate reservoirs. This project has started from May 2019 and will continue till December 31, 2021 through a competitive Faculty Development Competitive Research Program (FDCRP) grant awarded by the Nazarbayev University.
  2. Asphaltene characterization, thermodynamics modeling and molecular dynamics simulation of asphaltene precipitation, deasphalting process, development and lab/field testing of novel asphaltene inhibitors, and nanofluidic and microfluidics studies. This project has started from January 2020 and will continue till December 31, 2022 through a highly competitive Collaborative Research Proposal (CRP) grant awarded by the Nazarbayev University.

The total amount of the funding received is $600,000. Both projects appreciate from extensive collaborations with high caliber researchers and advanced labs from universities in the U.S., Canada, and Malaysia plus scientists from local partner universities in Kazakhstan.

Other Research Interests

In addition to the above-mentioned areas, Dr. Shafiei has research interests in various aspects of reservoir monitoring tools development and application, leaky hydrocarbon wells (i.e., environmental impacts, policy, and enhanced approaches for well cementation and well abandonment practices), petroleum economics, E&P technology management, future of oil, emerging technologies, and energy policy.

Teaching and Courses

Dr. Shafiei is a very passionate lecturer and comes from a family of teachers. He has a great interest in developing and teaching courses, psychology of learning and teaching process, and is interested in using innovations in teaching and evaluation methods. He completed a series of workshops on various aspects of university teaching, course development, exam design, evaluation strategies and techniques, and technical and scientific proposal writing and has received a certificate for completion of the workshops from the University Of Waterloo Center for Teaching Excellence in 2013. He holds Professional Certificate in Academic Practice from Advance HE, UK, 2018-2019. He also  has received a certificate for completion of Doctoral Supervision Workshop from the UK Higher Education Academy held in Nazarbayev University in 2017.

He has developed and taught 10+ undergraduate and graduate courses in various topics and disciplines (not including professional training short courses or workshops for the E&P industry) in various universities in the past 20 years. In addition, he has extensive experience in developing curriculum for Petroleum Engineering, equipping labs, and program accreditation process.

Current courses

  • PETE 206 Petroleum Rock & Fluid Properties
  • PETE 303 Well Logging & Formation Evaluation
  • PETE 504 Advanced Well Logging & Formation Evaluation
  • SMG  520 Research Methods
  • PETE 610 Advanced Petroleum Geomechanics

Previously taught courses

  • Introduction to Natural Resources Extraction
  • Introduction to Petroleum Engineering
  • Geology for Petroleum Engineers
  • Geology for Mining Engineers
  • Fundamentals of Petrophysics
  • Fundamentals of Rock Mechanics
  • Fundamentals of Petroleum Geomechanics
  • Fundamentals of Drilling Engineering
  • Fundamentals of Reservoir Engineering
  • Fundamentals of Heavy Oil Resources and Recovery
  • Petroleum Geology

Service work

Dr. Shafiei is a very active member of the scientific community:

  • He is the Faculty Advisor for Nazarbayev University SPE Student Chapter (NUSPE) where he oversees and supports the activities of the NUSPE since 2018. The NUSPE won the First Place in the 2020 Petrobowl Regional Qualifier in the Caspian Region. This is for the first time where a SPE Student Chapter from Republic of Kazakhstan claims the first place in Petrobowl Regional Qualifier.
  • In March 2020, Dr. Shafiei was appointed as an Editorial Board Member (EBM) and Editor for the Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment (BOEG) a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering research in geoscience. BOEG is the official journal of the International Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment (IAEG). The 2019 impact factor of the journal is 3.04, a Quartile 1 journal, and it is listed amongst top 10 Engineering-Geological journals since 2019. Bulletin is the scientific reference among the most respected journals in the fields of engineering geology, the environment, and other geoscience since 1970.
  • Dr. Shafiei acts regularly as a reviewer for several top international peer-reviewed journals.
  • In January 2021, Dr. Shafiei was appointed as a member of the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) Commission on Petroleum Geomechanics.

Last updated in January 9, 2021 by Ali Shafiei.