Israa Abu-Mahfouz, Ph.D.

Former ANPERC Members

Research Scientist - Vahrenkamp Group

Research Interests

Dr Israa S. Abu-Mahfouz is a specialist in naturally fractured reservoirs, unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs, geomechanics, fracture geochemistry, and reservoir modelling. Israa has more than 12 years of experience in the oil/gas industry and academia. Dr Abu-Mahfouz is a member of ANPERC's Carbonate Reservoir Studies Group (CaResS) and is leading the Unconventional Source Rocks/Reservoirs Subgroup under Professor Volker Vahrenkamp.  Her research focuses on:
  • Characterisation of naturally-fractured unconventional carbonate reservoirs using a variety of analytical techniques, including Geostatistical Analysis, Petrographic Investigation (Optical Microscope, Confocal & SEM), CTscan, and Organic (Biomarkers, RE, VR) and Inorganic Geochemical Analyses (TC, TS, XRD, XRF..).
  • Lateral and vertical heterogeneity in unconventional source rocks and its impact on the OM distribution.  
  • Investigation of Primary Expulsion of Hydrocarbons from Carbonate Source Rocks.
  • Understanding the geological and physico-chemical processes that led to the generation and expulsion of hydrocarbons from these rocks.


Research Interest keywords 

Carbonate Reservoirs, Unconventional Hydrocarbon Reservoirs; Reservoir Modelling and Heterogeneity, Naturally-Fractured Reservoirs, Geomechanics, Mechanical Stratigraphy, Diagenesis, HC Migration and Maturation.

Selected Publications

  • Hydrous Pyrolysis of Source Rock Plugs: Geochemical and Visual Investigations and Implications for Primary Migration
    S. Grohmann, G. Gaus, J. Klaver, I.S. Abu Mahfouz, V. Vahrenkamp, T. Patzek, J. Urai, R. Littke
    European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers, (2021) [Conference Paper]
  • Fracture Development in Unconventional Reservoirs and its Role in Hydrocarbon Migration and Expulsion
    I.S. Abu-Mahfouz, J. Cartwright, J., V. Vahrenkamp, T. Patzek, R. Littke
    ACE 2020 Conference and Exhibition, Houston., (2020)

  • Silica diagenesis promotes early primary hydrocarbon migration
    I.S. Abu-Mahfouz, J. Cartwright, E. Idiz, J.N. Hooker, S. Robinson
    Geology, 48., (2020)
  • Genesis and role of bitumen in fracture development during early catagenesis
    I.S. Abu-Mahfouz, J. Cartwright, E. Idiz, J.N. Hooker, S. Robinson, S.H.J.M. van den Boorn
    Petroleum Geoscience, 26, 4., (2019)
  • Fractures in mudrocks: Advances in constraining timing and understanding mechanisms
    J.N. Hooker, I.S. Abu-Mahfouz, Q. Meng, J. Cartwright
    Journal of Structural Geology, 125, 166-173, (2019)
  • Genesis of natural fracture systems in mudrocks (Upper Cretaceous-Eocene), Jordan
    I.S. Abu-Mahfouz
    DPhil Thesis, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, (2019)
  • Natural Fracture Systems in Mudrocks (Upper Cretaceous-Eocene), Jordan
    I.S. Abu-Mahfouz, J. Cartwright, J.N. Hooker, M.R. Gross
    The Geology of Fractured Reservoirs, The Geological Society, conference paper, (2018)
  • Characterisation of fractured hydrocarbon reservoirs
    I.S., Abu-Mahfouz
    AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90298 2017 AAPG Foundation 2016 Grants-in-Ai..., (2017)
  • Geo-engineering evaluation of Harrat Irbid Basaltic Rocks, Irbid District—North Jordan
    I.S. Abu-Mahfouz, A. Al-Malabeh, S. Rababeh
    Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 9, 5, (1-11), (2016)
  • Petrogenesis of Irbid District Basalt Rocks (Al-Tura-Beit Ras), Northern Jordan and their Engineering Evaluation as...
    I.S. Abu-Mahfouz
    M.Sc. Thesis. The Hashemite University, Jordan, (2009)


  • 2018: Ph.D in Petroleum/Structural Geology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • 2009: MSc in Applied Geology, The Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan
  • 2007: BSc in Geology and Environment, The Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan

Professional Profile

  • 2021-present: Research Scientist, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2019-2021: Postdoctoral Fellow, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2018-2019: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, UK
  • 2017-2019: Tutor/Fieldwork Demonstrator, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, UK
  • 2014-2019: Researcher, Shell-Oxford Research Group, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, UK
  • 2012-2014: Senior Geoscientist, Royal Dutch Shell P.L.C (Jordan Oil Shale Company), Amman, Jordan
  • 2010-2012: Senior Geochemical/Geophysical Lab Engineer, Royal Dutch Shell P.L.C, Amman, Jordan
  • 2009-2010: Researcher, The Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan
  • 2008-2009: Teaching Assistant, The Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan
  • 2007- 2008: Geoscientist, Al-Emtiaz Engineering Company, Zarqa, Jordan

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • Member, Oxford Geology Group, OGG, OUGG (2016-Present).
  • Member, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, AAPG (2015-Present).
  • Member, the Geological Society of London, GSL (2015-Present).
  • Science Ambassador at Science Oxford (2014-2018).
  • Member, Jordan Geologists Association, JGA (2008-Present). 


  • 2019: Inspiring Women in Science, Jordan
  • 2018: Burdett-Coutts Research Award, Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford University, UK
  • 2017: St Peter's College Graduate Award, Oxford University, UK
  • 2017: AAPG Foundation Geoscience Research Award (Donald F. Towse Memorial Grant), US
  • 2016: St Peter's College Graduate Award, Oxford University, UK
  • 2014: Shell-Oxford Fully-Funded Scholarship (4-year PhD project in Earth Sciences at Oxford University), UK
  • 2008: Excellence Award (During MSc. Degree), Hashemite University, Jordan

KAUST Affiliations

  • ​Ali I. Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center (ANPERC)
  • Physicial Science and Engineering Division (PSE)

Research Interests Keywords

Carbonate Reservoirs Unconventional Hydrocarbon Reservoirs Reservoir Modelling and Heterogeneity