US DoE awards US$30 million to unconventional technologies
January 30, 2018
Six unconventional projects have been awarded government funding, including new shale reservoir studies, cementing technologies and anti-hydrate coatings
The US Department of Energy (DoE) has selected six projects to receive roughly US$30 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development in unconventional oil and natural gas recovery. The projects, which currently produce less than 50,000 bpd each, have been selected, under the direction of US Congress, to help achieve President Donald Trump’s goal of boosting fossil fuel output, the DoE said on January 3.
The award follows a similar call for ideas issued in July 2017, seeking innovations which could help boost recovery from unconventional oil and gas resources, and help prevent offshore oil and gas leaks.
The ventures were selected under the Office of Fossil Energy’s Advanced Technology Solutions for Unconventional Oil and Gas Development funding programme. The goal in this case is to improve understanding of the behaviour of oil and gas reservoirs, advance the completion of wells and boost drilling technologies at offshore operations, the DoE said.
The selected projects are targeting emerging unconventional plays, including the Tuscaloosa Marine shale in Louisiana and Mississippi and the gas-rich Huron shale in Appalachia.
Funding the six projects “will help us master oil and gas development in these types of rising shales”, and bolster the DoE’s efforts to strengthen US energy dominance, the department said in a statement.
Receiving the largest proportion of the funding – totalling US$8 million – will be a study of reservoirs by Texas A&M University’s Engineering Experiment Station. Applicable to both the initial production and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) phases, the research will enable operators of thousands of existing horizontal wells that have undergone hydraulic fracturing in the Eagle Ford to determine which of them can be re-fracked, the DoE said. The team will also use distributed sensing to investigate fracture geometry, via the study of two new production wells.
Elsewhere, the field lab at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will receive just under US$8 million to investigate the potential for reservoirs at the Nora gas field in southwest Virginia, in the Lower Huron shale. As well as studying Cambrian formations of Central Appalachia, the research will also evaluate which well-completion strategies might be best pursued in the Lower Huron.
Another recipient is the Institute of Gas Technology, in Des Plaines, Illinois, which will take US$7.974 million in DoE funding for experiments to evaluate well completion, design optimisation and environmental impact quantification in the Delaware Basin, specifically targeting the Wolfcamp formation. The test sited will be located on acreage belonging to Anadarko and Royal Dutch Shell.
US$3.6 million will be given to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to address information gaps on the Tuscaloosa Marine shale. Currently total output averages only 3,000 bpd, despite estimations that the play could contain up to 7 billion barrels of recoverable oil. One reason for its slow progression is the clay-rich and water-sensitive nature of the formations.
C-Crete Technologies of Texas will study new cementing strategies using hexagonal boron nitride-reinforced well cement – a system which could be used to help prevent offshore spills and leakages in extreme high-temperature, high-pressure (HPHT) and corrosive environments. US$1.5 million in funding will be used to develop a proof-of-concept cement composite, and help tune it to offer optimum slurry formulation and rheological properties, and the best hybrid nanostructure, the department explained.
Finally, US$1.49 million was awarded to the Colorado School of Mines, for the development and validation of new pipeline coatings to prevent hydrate deposition in subsea oil pipelines. The goal in this case is to create a coating system that can be applied in-situ in existing flowlines, decreasing the need for hydrate treatments and reducing the need for plugging. “It will be a major, fundamental breakthrough in hydrate science and engineering, and is critical to deepwater field operations,” the DoE said.