Celebration of Life Set for PRRC's Founding Director

Celebration of Life Set for PRRC's Founding Director

SOCORRO, N.M. – The Petroleum Recovery Research Center and the family of Joe Taber are inviting everyone to a Celebration of Life in honor of Mr. Taber, the first director of the PRRC, at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 20.


Joe Taber

Founding director of the Petroleum Recovery Research Center

The celebration will be in the courtyard, which can most easily be accessed from the golf-course side of Kelly Building. Joe's sons John and Tom will be attending along with their spouses, and they look forward to catching up with Socorro friends. This is an opportunity for friends and colleagues of Mr. Taber to share memories of Joe, and his effect on their lives and careers, either to the whole group or individually during the reception that will follow.

If you have a favorite picture or two that you would like to have included in a photo loop that will be shown, that would be welcome. Please send any photos to Bernadine Lucero at bernadine.lucero@nmt.edu.

If you will be able to attend, please RSVP no later than May 15 so we can get an approximate head-count. If you can't attend, but would like to contribute a written message, please send to Bernadine Lucero at bernadine.lucero@nmt.edu.

Joseph John "Joe" Taber died December 29, 2016, at the age of 96. He was a Distinguished Member of SPE and the Improved Oil Recovery Pioneer Awardee in 1990 from SPE and the Department of Energy.

As the founder-director and director emeritus of the Petroleum Recovery Research Center at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico, Taber led a wide-ranging research effort on methods to improve oil and gas recovery throughout his career. His research led the way for the now well-established field of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and his work led to eight patents related to EOR processes. Prior to coming to Socorro, Mr. Taber was a professor in the departments of chemistry and chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh for 22 years.

In a series of technical papers and patents, Taber showed how equilibrium phase behavior, low interfacial tension, and adsorption of surfactants interact to determine displacement efficiency in oil-recovery processes. His landmark paper (SPE 2098) concerning capillary desaturation established that displacement of oil trapped in a porous medium by capillary forces occurs when the ratio of pressure gradient to capillary force (as measured by the interfacial tension) exceeds a critical value. That ratio is now known as the Taber number.

His research on alcohol flooding, in which an alcohol that is miscible with both oil and water is used to displace oil, showed that displacement performance is strongly dependent on composition path. That observation pointed the way to the design of micellar/polymer recovery processes and miscible gas injection processes, both of which rely on the use of chromatographic separations during flow in the reservoir rock to achieve high displacement efficiency.

Taber's wide-ranging view of EOR is captured in his 1997 SPE papers, Part I and II, "EOR Screening Criteria Revisited," which have for many years been the most downloaded papers in the OnePetro electronic library. He was also an SPE Distinguished Lecturer during 1989-1990 on the topic "The Outlook for EOR in Changing Economic Conditions."

Taber held a bachelor's degree from Muskingum University, Ohio, and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.

– NMT –