Environmental Systems Applications


Probabilistic Risk Analysis in the Energy Industry


Development and operation of energy projects, such as oil and gas production facilities, requires an enormous investment of time, money, and technology. Given the nature of the industry, there are a large number of uncertainties (technological, economic and political) that are inherently present. As a result, critical investment decisions are often made based on sparse and uncertain data and qualitative analysis. Probabilistic risk assessment and analysis using GoldSim simulation software can facilitate better planning and risk management in the face of these uncertainties.

By creating a quantitative framework that explicitly accounts for uncertainties and also represents complex dynamics (something that cannot be realistically done in spreadsheet models), GoldSim can be used to identify and quantitatively compare alternatives. Large capital investments, long lead times against uncertain revenues, uncertainty of yield size and production, and market and political risks beyond company control are all harrowing challenges that make probabilistic simulation a valuable tool for the oil and gas industry.


Learn More



White Papers

Technical Papers

  • Harnessing households to mitigate renewables intermittency in the smart grid

    Renewable Energy – March 2019

    Zvi Baum, Ruslana Rachel Palatnik and Ofira Ayalon, University of Haifa; David Elmakis and Shimon Frant, Israel Electric Corporation

    This paper presents and evaluates a novel demand response method for households, designed for mitigating intermittency in smart grids with a high share of renewables. The method, named Dynamic-Active Demand Response (DADR), is based on an innovative paradigm of offering multiple electricity service levels and a dynamic-active demand response scheme. It provides the grid operator with the ability to influence consumption patterns in real time, so that responding to renewables intermittency is more effective in terms of reliability, predictability and response time. DADR's performance is evaluated using a Monte Carlo simulation model (implemented in GoldSim), which assesses the method's intermittency mitigation potential and estimates the expected economic value of implementing it in the Israeli residential sector.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • CO2-SCREEN tool: Application to the oriskany sandstone to estimate prospective CO2 storage resource

    International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control – August 2018

    Sean Sanguinitoa, Angela L. Goodman, James I. Sams III

    The ability to accurately predict the CO2 storage resource in saline formations is important to make high-level, energy-related government policy and business decisions. CO2-SCREEN (Storage prospeCtive Resource Estimation Excel aNalysis) is a tool developed by the United States Department of Energy − National Energy Technology Laboratory (US-DOE-NETL) to screen saline formations for prospective CO2 storage resources. CO2- SCREEN uses DOE methods and equations to serve as a consistent mechanism for calculating prospective CO2 storage resources. CO2-SCREEN is  comprised of two files: an Excel file used for inputs and outputs and a GoldSim Player file used to run Monte Carlo simulations. CO2-SCREEN requires input of physical geologic parameters (i.e., thickness, porosity) as well as efficiency factor ranges (i.e., net-to-gross thickness) to calculate a mass storage estimate. An application of CO2-SCREEN is demonstrated here using well log data from the Oriskany Sandstone portion in Pennsylvania. The Oriskany Sandstone is divided into 20 km x 20 km grid cells in which 151 cells contain well log data. CO2-SCREEN calculates prospective CO2 storage resource for each grid cell based on the well log data and uses lithology and depositional environment information for efficiency factor ranges. The Oriskany Sandstone CO2 storage resource estimate for Pennsylvania, calculated by CO2-SCREEN, ranges from 0.07 to 1.28 gigatons (Gt) with a P50 value of 0.32 Gt. This resource assessment analysis is done to demonstrate the use of CO2-SCREEN and results are comparable to previous studies which encourages the application of CO2- SCREEN to other saline formations and warrants exploring the expansion of this tool to assess the CO2 storage resource in other formations such as shale and depleted oil and gas reservoirs.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Impact of technical and economic uncertainties on the economic performance of a deep geothermal heat system

    Renewable Energy – December 2017

    Alexandros Daniilidis, Betül Alpsoy, and Rien Herber, University of Groningen

    This paper presents a techno-economic analysis of a deep, direct use geothermal heat system in a conductive geological setting (Groningen, NE Netherlands). The model integrates the previously discussed uncertainties of the initial reservoir state, geological and operational conditions with the economic uncertainties. These uncertainties are incorporated in the form of probability distributions and 20,000 iterations of the model are performed over a project lifetime of 40 years. A combination of Ex-Ante and Ex-Post criteria are used to evaluate the economic performance of the system based on the Net Present Value (NPV), Levelised Cost of Heat (LCOH) and Expected Monetary Value (EMV).

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Operational Safety at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dam and Hydropower Facilities

    Africa 2017 – Hydropower and Dams – March 2017

    Robert Patev, Adiel Komey and Gregory Baecher

    The quantification of operational risks at US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) dam and hydropower projects is a critical piece of the overall USACE risk assessment processes. Operational risks need to be considered for both the daily operations and maintenance of the dam and hydropower systems and for emergency operations required during flood events. Many USACE dam and hydropower projects are multi-purpose and the methodology developed needs to be considered holistically to all operational aspects of the projects. Dams, along with their spillways and other waterways, are built to retain and control the flow of water for purposes of power production, water supply, navigation, recreation, flood risk mitigation, and environmental restoration. This paper will define a system methodology that evaluates the performance of structural, mechanical, electrical controls and sensing equipment over a range of loading conditions that are in combination with human factors such as work environment and stress, internal communication, operator training, and management policies and practices. The result of this system modelling is to identify weaknesses and corrective actions in areas such as corrective maintenance activities, plant staff working environments and level of job training, horizontal and vertical communication with upper management, and operations and maintenance manuals for dam and hydropower projects. 

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Prospective CO2 saline resource estimation methodology: Refinement of existing US-DOE-NETL methods based on data availability

    International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control – November 2016

    Angela Goodman, Sean Sanguinito, Jonathan S. Levine

    Carbon storage resource estimation in subsurface saline formations plays an important role in establish-ing the scale of carbon capture and storage activities for governmental policy and commercial projectdecision-making. Prospective CO2 resource estimation of large regions or sub-regions, such as a basin,occurs at the initial screening stages of a project using only limited publicly available geophysical data (i.e., prior to project-specific site selection data generation). As the scale of investigation is narrowed and selected areas and formations are identified, prospective CO2 resource estimation can be refined and uncertainty narrowed when site-specific geophysical data are available. Here, we refine the United StatesDepartment of Energy – National Energy Technology Laboratory (US-DOE-NETL) methodology as the scale of investigation is narrowed from very large regional assessments down to selected areas and formationsthat may be developed for commercial storage. In addition, we present a new notation that explicitly identifies differences between data availability and data sources used for geologic parameters and efficiency factors as the scale of investigation is narrowed. This CO2 resource estimation method is available for screening formations in a tool called CO2-SCREEN.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Systems Reliability of Flow Control in Dam Safety

    12th International Conference on Applications of Statistics and Probability in Civil Engineering, ICASP12 – July 2015

    Adiel Komey, Qianli Deng, Gregory Baecher, P. Andy Zielinkski and Tyler Atkinson

    The reliable performance of a spillway system depends on the many environmental and operational demand functions placed upon it by basin hydrology, the hydraulic conditions at reservoirs and dams, operating rules for the cascade of reservoirs in the basin, and the vagaries of human and natural factors such as operator interventions or natural disturbances such as ice and floating debris. These systems interact to control floods, condition flows, and filter high frequencies in the river discharge. Their function is to retain water volumes and to pass flows in a controlled way. A systems simulation approach is presented for grappling with these varied influences on flow-control systems in hydropower installations. The river system studied is a series of four power stations in northern Ontario. At the head of the cascade is a seasonally-varying inflow. The remaining three dams downstream have little storage capacity. Each has two vertical lift gates and all four structures have approximately the same spillway capacity. The problem is to conceptualize a systems engineering model for the operation of the dams, spillways, and other components; then to employ the model through stochastic simulation to investigate protocols for the safe operation of the spillway and flow control system.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Development of an Execution Strategy Analysis Capability and Tool for Storage of Used Nuclear Fuel

    Publication for the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA-CN-226-34 – June 2015

    R. Stoll, J. Greeves, and J. Voss with Predicus LLC, USA; A. Keizur and A. Neir with Golder Associates Inc., USA; N. Saraeva and W. Nutt with Argonne National Laboratory, USA

    An Execution Strategy Analysis (ESA) capability and tool is being developed to evaluate alternative execution strategies for future deployment of a consolidated Interim Storage Facility (ISF) using a consent-based siting process per the Administration’s Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste. Application of an ESA approach not only leverages on but also goes beyond traditional project analysis tools. The ESA tool allows for on-going performance assessment of the evolving project execution plan that takes into account significant assumptions, risks, and uncertainties throughout the project lifecycle. The ESA process and tool are used to support the development of plans, budgets, and alternative execution/ implementation strategies for meeting the goals in the Strategy. The project is being applied in a dynamic probabilistic simulation model using GoldSim.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Simulation Model of Pumped Hydroelectric Power Plant

    Acta Electrotechnica et Informatica, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2015, 57–61, DOI: 10.15546/aeei-2015-0019 – January 2015

    Miroslav Mikita, Michael Kolcun; Department of Electric Power Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics, Technical University of Kosice, Letna 9, 042 00 Kosice, Slovak Republic

    The Pumped hydroelectric power plants are very suitable way to avoid the unpredictable imbalance in power generation, but its construction is very expensive and reliability is very long-term. Every single pumped hydroelectric power plant is like rechargeable battery which can generate electricity when there is a deficiency in power generation and also can consume when there is conversely reserve on power generation. That's the main reason why is important to build such sources of energy. When you create new project of every power plant that prediction of it's performance is highly important and simulation software is useful in this cases. For good prediction is also important true data in simulation and knowledge about locality of this project, because every project varies from other similar projects. For obtaining optimal conditions of using pumped hydroelectric power plant is needed to find best algorithm of generating or consuming the electricity. GoldSim was used to develop this pumped storage model.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • The CO2-PENS Water Treatment Model: Evaluation of Cost Profiles and Importance Scenarios for Brackish Water Extracted During Carbon Storage.

    Journal article, Energy Procedia 63, 7205–7214 – January 2014

    Sullivan Graham, E.Ja, Chu, S., Pawar, R.J., Stauffer, P.H. with Los Alamos National Laboratory

    Extraction of in-situ water is one of the options for minimizing the impact of large-scale CO2 injection in saline aquifers or during enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The amount of water to be produced could be significant depending on in-situ conditions and injection parameters. Evaluating the costs of treatment is complex, as the quality of the water may vary considerably from treatments based on well-known seawater chemistry, including reverse osmosis. We evaluated a brackish-salinity water to be extracted from a future CO2 injection and storage location in eastern China for prototype treatment costs for both cooling water and boiler water final treatment goals. Costs for treatment of the water, excluding costs for organic pretreatment, were within the range of previously analyzed costs for higher-salinity waters but are likely to be lower when economies of scale are included for a full-scale, higher volume treatment facility. Importance analysis lends insight into process factors that may not contribute the highest unit costs to treatment but on whole are very important to total system costs. We found that the acid rate for pretreatment, zero-liquid discharge disposal, feed water temperature, and water transportation costs, were the most important factors within total system costs for this analysis. The CO2-PENS Water Treatment Model was developed using GoldSim.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • A Method and Cost Model for Treatment of Water Extracted During Geologic CO2 Storage

    Journal article for the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control – December 2013

    Enid Sullivan, Shaoping Chu, Philip Stauffer, Richard Middleton, and Rajesh Pawar with Los Alamos National Laboratory

    Extraction of water as a part of CO2 storage may be desirable for risk management and process optimization. Treatment and repurposing of this water creates a useful resource and reduces the volumes that must otherwise be disposed. To better understand the tradeoff of costs versus processes and risks, we use a systems approach to evaluate treatment costs that are reasonable for the chemical and physical qualities (salinity, temperature, pH and turbidity) of water that could be extracted from target geologic formations. We evaluate primary and secondary pretreatments, membrane desalination processes (reverse osmosis and nanofiltration), thermal processes (multiple effect distillation and multi-stage flash distillation), and several concentrate (brine) disposal methods. The system model was developed in GoldSim. The results indicate that for waters extracted from storage sites, salinities and temperatures may often be higher than for municipal treatment scenarios. Thus, thermal treatment methods are more cost-feasible than membrane methods in many cases, although pressure recovery methods for reverse osmosis can mitigate this. Treatment costs including concentrate disposal fall within a range of US$0.50–2.50/ton CO2 injected, although some costs can be much higher (up to US$30/ton CO2 under certain concentrate disposal cost ranges). A sensitivity analysis shows that temperature is the most important in determining costs followed by selection of concentrate disposal method.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • The Simulation of PbSe Quantum Dots Luminescent Solar Concentrator Based on GoldSim Software

    Applied Mechanics and Materials – June 2013

    Tian Yue Xu, Wen Zhu Gao, Tie Qiang Zhang, Ke Bi, Wei Wei Zhai, and Yu Zhang, JiLin University

    This essay uses the method of photon tracing to describe the simulation of PbSe quantum dots luminescent solar concentrator based on GoldSim software and optimize its size. We find that under the condition of size optimization, the photoelectric conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells which stick to the side of PbSe quantum dots luminescent solar concentrator can reach 32.5%. It explains that PbSe quantum dots are very suitable for LSC system.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Water Production Tool for Coal Seam Gas

    Enhancement of the Coal Seam Gas Water Production Tool, Deliverable 4: Addendum to Technical Report – March 2013

    Greg Keir, Lucy Reading, Sue Vink

    A water production tool was developed by Klohn Crippen Berger using GoldSim to predict the potential volumes of water extracted by the coal seam gas industry within the Bowen and Surat Basins in Queensland over the next 50 years.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis of Policies for the Development of Electric Vehicles in Germany: Methods and Results

    Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Department of Economics Working Paper, ISSN: 1827/3580 No. 02/WP/2013 – January 2013

    Jerome Massiani with Universita Ca' Foscari di Venezia and Jorg Radeke of Berlin Economics GmbH

    Policies toward the diffusion of Electric Vehicles (EV) received a lot of attention in recent years in many developed countries. In this paper, we review different existing models and present a simulation tool for the assessment of EV policies in Germany. This model, which was built in GoldSim incorporates detailed representation of the various technological, behavioral and economical mechanisms that govern the possible diffusion of EV in Germany.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Quantification of Risk Profiles and Impacts of Uncertainties as part of US DOE’s National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP)

    Energy Procedia – January 2013

    Rajesh Pawara, Grant Bromhal, Robert Dilmore, Bill Foxall, Edwin Jones, Curtis Oldenburg, Philip Stauffer, Stephen Unwin, and George Guthrie

    The National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP) is a US-Department of Energy (US-DOE) effort focused on developing a science-based methodology for quantifying risk profiles at geologic CO2 sequestration sites. Risk profiles are calculated using an integrated assessment modelling (IAM) approach which treats a geologic CO2 storage site as a system and uses a system modelling approach to predict time-dependent behaviour of the storage site. The authors have developed first generation risk profiles associated with a few key potential impacts due to CO2 leakage from a sequestration reservoir, including change in groundwater quality in a shallow aquifer and return of CO2 to the atmosphere.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • A CO2-PENS Model of Methods and Costs for Treatment of Water Extracted During Geologic Carbon Sequestration

    International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control – December 2012

    Enid Sullivan, Shaoping Chu, Philip Stauffer, and Rajesh Pawar with Los Alamos National Laboratory

    Extraction of water during subsurface carbon sequestration may be useful for the control of CO2 placement, reducing pressure risks, and mitigating environmental risks. Desalination of this water may be possible if costs are kept low, in order to minimize the quantity that must be reinjected or otherwise disposed. Added value may be recovered in the form of treated water that can be reused by carbon capture, sequestration, and other industrial processes. Total dissolved solids will range from 10,000mg/L up to over 100,000 mg/L, and temperatures may range up to 120°C, once the water is brought to the surface. We have developed a system-level, mesoscale analysis module for the CO2-Predicting engineered natural system model to analyze the feasibility of treatment, the costs of treatment, the value of energy recovery, and the costs of concentrate disposal. Costs are derived from a database of reported literature values. The model, developed in GoldSim, allows the user to select the most economic options for treatment, to compare costs, and to understand the trade-off of risks and costs. Results of preliminary modeling indicate that while reverse osmosis is feasible within certain temperature and salinity ranges, nanofiltration and thermal methods may be more cost-effective or otherwise feasible.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Forecasting Coal Seam Gas Water Production in Queensland's Surat and Southern Bowen Basins

    Technical Report, Prepared for the State of Queensland (Department of Natural Resources and Mines) – September 2012

    Klohn Crippen Berger

    A basin-wide model was built to help forecast produced water from coal seam gas (CSG) operations in Queensland, Australia. This report describes how the tool works and reports a summary of findings for the forecast period of 2010-2060.The Water Production Tool (WPT) required a robust software platform to accommodate both quantitative inputs and inferred relationships. The platform needed to be flexible, transparent and represent the processes inherent in the system with appropriate recognition of uncertainty in all of the variables. The platform selected for the WPT was GoldSim, which permitted construction of a multi-tiered, practical and modifiable tool, with the additional option of stochastic (Monte Carlo) modelling.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Monte Carlo Ray-Tracing Simulation for Optimizing Luminescent Solar Concentrators

    Master of Science Thesis – May 2012

    Samuel R. Wilton, Pennsylvania State University

    A robust and user-friendly Monte Carlo ray-tracing simulation was developed for this thesis to study the efficiencies, loss mechanisms, and costs of Luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) systems employing a wide variety of different fluorescent materials and PV cells. Specifically, the simulation software was used to study the performance of infrared emitting PbSe quantum dot LSCs, estimate the efficiencies of non-conventional PV cells in LSC designs, assess the present capabilities of conventional LSC systems to harvest solar power at reduced cost, and investigate the viability of building-integrated LSC systems.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Application of the CO2-PENS risk analysis tool to the Rock Springs Uplift, Wyoming

    Energy Procedia – January 2011

    Philip H. Stauffer, Rajesh J. Pawara, Ronald C. Surdam, Zunsheng Jiao, Hailin Deng, Bruce C. Lettelier, Hari S. Viswanathan, Dean L. Sanzo, and Gordon N. Keating

    This paper describes a preliminary application of the CO2-PENS performance and risk analysis tool to a planned geologic CO2 sequestration demonstration project in the Rock Springs Uplift (RSU), located in south western Wyoming. Data from the RSU are used to populate CO2-PENS, an evolving system-level modeling tool developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. This tool has been designed to generate performance and risk assessment calculations for the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide. The approach follows Systems Analysis logic and includes estimates of uncertainty in model parameters and Monte-Carlo simulations that lead to probabilistic results. Probabilistic results provide decision makers with a range in the likelihood of different outcomes. This paper presents results from a newly implemented approach in CO2-PENS that captures site-specific spatially coherent details such as topography on the reservoir/cap-rock interface, changes in saturation and pressure during injection, and dip on overlying aquifers that may be impacted by leakage upward through wellbores and faults. Simulations of CO2 injection under different uncertainty distributions for hypothetical leaking wells and faults are presented. Although results are preliminary and to be used only for demonstration of the approach, future results of the risk analysis will form the basis for a discussion on methods to reduce uncertainty in the risk calculations. Additionally, ideas on using the model to help locate monitoring equipment to detect potential leaks are presented. By maintaining site-specific details in the CO2-PENS analysis, this tool allows more logical presentations to stakeholders in the region.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Investigations on Atmospheric CO2 Impacts of the Energetic Use of Biomass by Global Carbon Cycle Models

    17th International Drying Symposium (IDS 2010), Magdeburg, Germany – October 2010

    Ringer, D.U., Hochschule Furtwangen University

    Energy intensive activities such as drying are in the focus of attention of CO2-reduction schemes. Origin and quality of the energy used are key issues for the development of the atmospheric CO2-content. Biomass as energy source is discussed as a possi-bility to reduce atmospheric CO2. However, the line of logic comes from simple static balances. Yet, CO2 is part of the Global Carbon Cycle which is a large, global, dynamic network. A simple but globally accurate dynamic model of this cycle was built using GoldSim, which develops scenarios to look at the biomass arguments from a dynamic point of view.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Uncertainty Analysis for Unprotected Loss-of-Heat-Sink, Loss-of-Flow, and Transient-Overpower Events in Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactors

    International Conference on Fast Reactors and Related Fuel Cycles (FR 2009), Kyoto, Japan – December 2009

    Morris, E. E. and Nutt, W. M., Argonne National Laboratory

    While the traditional approach to reactor safety analyses remain deterministic, this paper considers a stochastic approach for explicitly including uncertainty in safety parameters by applying Monte Carlo sampling coupled with established deterministic reactor safety analysis tools.

    View Paper or Abstract

  • A System Model for Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide

    Article in Environmental Science and Technology, Volume 43, Number 3, pgs. 565-570 – December 2008

    Philip Stauffer, Hari Viswanathan, Rajesh Pawar and George Guthrie, Los Alamos National Laboratory

    This article describes the CO2-PENS model developed to simulate capture, transport and injection in different geological reservoirs.

    Overview: Poster from the 2007 GoldSim User Conference

    View Paper or Abstract

  • Modeling of Coal Combustion Products (CCP) Management Options at a Coal-fired Power Plant

    Proceedings of the 2003 International Ash Utilization Symposium – April 2005

    Todd Stong and Ron Jorgenson, Golder Associates; Russ Nelson and Tony Stroh, Great River Energy

    This paper describes a model built to evaluate management plans for coal combustion process in light of market conditions and pending EPA regulations.

    View Paper or Abstract