Flow Assurance And Scale Team (FAST)

The Flow Assurance And Scale Team (FAST) is a partnership between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Leeds. FAST has established a solid track record with oil and gas industry sponsors from the results of applied research into the formation of mineral scale.

Scale creates formation damage (restriction / blockage within the rock matrix) and blockage of the production tubing, causing a detrimental effect to the productivity and safety of the oil well and surface facilities. Industrial sponsorship of this research began in 1981, and since then over 50 companies have funded over £15 million of research through more than ten phases of the Joint Industry Project (JIP), in addition to Research Council and one-to-one project funding. The expertise developed over this period has been extended and applied to study Chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery (C-EOR) processes.


FAST's extensive research is carried out by two principal means:

  • The Flow Assurance and Scale Team Joint Industry Project – Phase 8 (FAST8): 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2025, which leverages sponsor income over three year phases, with gearing of up to 1:25, with results disseminated equally amongst all sponsors, and with arising Intellectual Property (IP) rights retained by the university (fast.egis.hw.ac.uk/);
  • The FAST Research and Consultancy (FASTrac) activity, which is a series of bespoke one-to-one research projects, training, consultancy and equipment manufacture, where arising IP rights are assigned to the funder and results may be treated as commercial in confidence.

Areas of Expertise

The foundation of complex research begins with a routine scale inhibitor evaluation:

  • compatibility and thermal stability tests;
  • static BaSO4 inhibition efficiency tests;
  • dynamic BaSO4 CaSO4 "tube blocking" inhibition efficiency tests;
  • and formation damage and inhibitor retention core flood tests.

This process facilitates a reduced number of scale inhibitors to proceed onto further compelling areas of research, such as the mechanisms of inhibition, the impact of brine composition on functionality and retention, and optimal application. Thermodynamic models are developed and applied to predict brine and mineral interactions, and the impact of CO2, H2S, pH, pressure and temperature. Reactive transport models are developed and used to simulate fluid flow and interactions in the reservoir, and our in house SQUEEZE model is used worldwide for thousands of scale inhibitor squeeze design calculations.

Research Impact

FAST's deliverables over the years have included many hundreds of report sections, dozens of theses and the world leading SQUEEZE software that enables companies to plan the best scale-inhibiting treatment from project outset. SQUEEZE has become the industry standard for planning scale-inhibiting treatment

Find out more about our research impact


Our research is conducted using in house and commercial software, state-of-the-art analytical equipment and five highly specialized laboratories; this includes custom-built equipment.


Our research is conducted by an established team of experts and a continuously renewing group of research students.

Theme leads

Professor Ken Sorbie (FAST co-PI) Ken Sorbie is the Cairn Energy Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt University. He has a first degree in Chemistry from Strathclyde University and a DPhil in Theoretical Chemistry/Applied Mathematics from the University of Sussex. Following this, he did postdoctoral research at Cambridge University working on theoretical aspects of semi-classical molecular quantum theory. He has worked in oil related research for over 36 years, firstly with the Department of Energy (now DECC) laboratory at AEA Winfrith where he led a group working on improved oil recovery, flow through porous media and reservoir simulation and, since 1988, at Heriot-Watt University. In 2004 Ken was awarded the Society of Core Analysts (SCA) Technical Achievement Award in 2008, he was awarded the SPE IOR Pioneer Award for his contributions to Improved Oil Recovery and in 2013 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Royal Society of Chemistry (Speciality Chemicals). Ken.Sorbie@pet.hw.ac.uk

Professor Eric Mackay (FAST co-PI) Eric Mackay holds a Energi Simulation Chair in Reactive Flow Simulation at Heriot-Watt University. Energi Simulation is a not-for profit foundation, formerly known as Foundation CMG, which promotes and financially supports R&D and students through research grants and university chair programmes. He holds a BSc in Physics from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in Petroleum Engineering from Heriot-Watt University. His research interests include the study of fluid flow and geochemical reactions in porous media. He was appointed SPE Distinguished Lecturer on the topic of Scale Management during 2007-2008, and was the invited Keynote Speaker at the 2015 SPE Oilfield Chemistry Symposium. Eric.Mackay@pet.hw.ac.uk

Professor Frederick Pessu (FAST co-PI, University of Leeds partner) Frederick Pessu is a Lecturer of Corrosion Engineering within the Institute of Functional surfaces, School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds. He holds a BEng (2007) in chemical engineering from the University of Port- Harcourt Nigeria, a (MSc. Eng) in 2010 and PhD (2015) in Oilfield Corrosion Engineering from the School of Mechanical Engineering and 12 years aggregate experience in the area of corrosion science and engineering. He previously worked as an oil and gas corrosion research fellow between 2015 and 2018 within the institute of functional surfaces, University of Leeds. His research work is focused on corrosion; understanding and characterisation of corrosion interfaces, design and application of electrochemical methods; corrosion inhibition; and mitigation. The context of his research interests cuts across the oil and gas industry; CO2 and H2S corrosion, CO2 and H2S related scale formation, and pitting and localized corrosion. His research also includes material corrosion in renewable energy systems such as concentrated solar power (CSP), molten salt reactors (MSRs) and geothermal energy systems. He is an active member of NACE since 2013 and the chair of sour corrosion symposium at NACE 2021. f.o.pessu@leeds.ac.uk

Mr Mike Singleton (FASTrac manager) Mike Singleton is a Senior Research Fellow at Heriot-Watt University, where his research interests include mechanisms of oilfield scale formation, its prevention and the chemical interactions that take place during fluid flow through porous media. He is an active member of the Flow Assurance and Scale Team (FAST) joint industry project (JIP) and is also responsible for the group's consultancy activity (FASTrac). Mike joined the FAST group in 2004 following 10 years of service with Baker Petrolite, Liverpool, UK. During this time Mike was involved in the manufacture and testing of many oilfield service chemicals, ranging from demulsifiers to scale, wax and corrosion inhibitors. mike.singleton@pet.hw.ac.uk

Meet the rest of the Team.


We maintain good communication channels with our industry sponsors and collaborative partners through regular steering group meetings, training and workshop events, personal discussions, consultancy and conferences.

Our research is published in key technical journals; we produce approximately 15-20 technical papers annually. The research is independent, of the highest academic quality, undergoes continuous academic and industrial peer review, and is very much focused on addressing immediate industry needs.

HWU have worked with our company on a 1:1 basis of real time advice which allows our researchers to keep abreast of the operational challenges facing the industry.

Consultancy and training

In addition to our research activity we also offer consultancy (FASTrac) and short courses on scale related issues and coreflooding using our extensive research experience in areas of scale control, associated flow assurance and formation damage to provide high quality field applicable research and consultancy.

Please contact Mike Singleton for further information.

Key information

Heather O'Hara