Methane is a major greenhouse gas and so contributes to climate change. Cranfield and SLB are offering an iCASE PhD studentship, developing modelling methods to couple with observations of methane from energy facilities. The proposed research will test and develop new and/or improved atmospheric modelling techniques that can be coupled with existing observations of methane, and other data streams from test sites & client facilities. The ultimate aim will be to improve on our ability to identify and estimate the size and location of leaks within site boundaries. The studentship will aid SLB and its clients meet their net-zero greenhouse gas emission objectives. A bursary will be provided of up to £18,000 tax free plus fees for four years will be provided.

The 2021 IPCC assessment report on climate change and the US-EU led Global Methane Pledge highlight the contribution of methane to the current global atmospheric warming trend. The IPCC report estimates that 0.5ºC of the current 1.1ºC temperature rise is attributable to this potent greenhouse gas. Sources of methane include agriculture, landfill, water treatment and oil & gas facilities. To assist SLB and its clients meet their net-zero greenhouse gas emission objectives, there is an ongoing need for continuous monitoring at well construction and production facilities, and mitigation of vented and fugitive methane emissions. In collaboration with the newly-launched Emissions Management business line (SEES), this project will contribute to SLB’s net-zero by 2050 roadmap, covering scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions.

The proposed research will link observations of methane and other data streams from client facilities with appropriate atmospheric modelling techniques, to identify, then estimate size and location of leaks within site boundaries.

The key research objectives include: 

1. Identify the challenges involved in identifying methane leaks at oil and gas installations and enabling timely remedial action. This will include understanding the minimum level of instrumentation required to achieve meaningful, quantitative estimates of methane emission within an acceptable level of uncertainty.

2. Develop modelling approaches suited to use the pseudo-continuous time-series methane concentration data to arrive at meaningful emission estimates.

3. Investigate if the ground-based emissions estimates from oil and gas facilities can be improved by combination with other sensing approaches, such as from airborne, satellite platforms and other on-site data sources.

4. Develop edge-based machine-learning techniques to provide near-instantaneous emission estimates.

5. Assess the suitability of the technology for being scaled from individual facilities to basin scales and for its applicability in non-oilfield applications such as biogas, water treatment, gas-to-X facilities and agriculture.

Cranfield University
As a specialist postgraduate university, Cranfield’s world-class expertise, large-scale facilities and unrivalled industry partnerships are creating leaders in technology and management globally. Learn more about Cranfield and our unique impact here. The Cranfield Environment Centre aims to transform the science of environmental solutions through a systems approach, spanning sensor and measurement technology, systems modelling, environmental informatics, data and decision science.  The Centre covers research on air quality and climate change, soil quality, crop growth and monitoring, natural capital, resilience, ecosystem goods and services.

We are SLB, the leading provider of technology and services to the energy industry. Throughout much of the oil and gas lifecycle in over 120 countrie we design, develop, and deliver technology and services that transforms how work is done. We define the boundaries of the industry by unleashing our talented people’s energy. We’re looking for innovators to join our diverse community of colleagues and develop new solutions and push the limits of what’s possible. If you share our passion for discovery and want to find out what you could really do, then here is the place to do it.

Successful development of a technique for rapid identification of emissions leading to timely mitigation actions will be of great value in the efforts to reduce CH4 emissions including those of SLB’s clients.

The student will visit UK and overseas test facilities and possibly client sites to learn about the practical problems faced in the field. This may also include visits to dedicated emission research facilities such as METEC. In addition, there will be opportunities to work with other centres within SLB.

Quantitative skills including use of artificial intelligence; communicating and networking with academic and commercial sectors; insight into and understanding of the rapidly evolving energy industry as society responds to the climate crisis; problem solving skills; team working.

At a glance

  • Application deadline21 Feb 2024
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start dateAs soon as possible
  • Duration of award4 years
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberSWEE0242


Supervisors- 1st Supervisor: Prof Neil Harris    
2nd supervisor: Dr Michelle Cain

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Prior study of this specific research area is not a pre-requisite, but candidates must be highly numerate and be willing to study any previously unknown underpinning areas of science that are required. We encourage applications from under-represented groups and are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion.


Sponsored by EPSRC and Schlumberger, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £18,000 (tax free) plus fees for four years.             

This studentship is open to UK applications only. Funded studentships will only be awarded to exceptional candidates due to the competitive nature of the funding.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact:
Name: Prof Neil Harris

For information about applications please contact: E:

If you are eligible to apply for the PhD, please complete the online PhD application form stating the reference No. SWEE0242

Our Values
Our shared, stated values help to define who we are and underpin everything we do: Ambition; Impact; Respect; and Community. Find out more here. We aim to create and maintain a culture in which everyone can work and study together and realise their full potential.

Diversity and Inclusion
As an inclusive and diverse doctoral centre, we welcome applications from all highly motivated individuals, regardless of background, identity or disability.