|More than half of the onshore natural
gas wells in the lower-48 states -- some 176,000 wells -- are
low-volume wells called "stripper" wells. Many face
plugging and abandonment. And their numbers are increasing.
Now, the Department of Energy has
selected two research projects that could give new life to these
wells. Both projects will develop and demonstrate low-cost software
programs that could reveal ways to prolong - or perhaps increase -
production from stripper gas wells.
The projects will be conducted by:
Engineering Inc., Marietta, Ohio. The company will
develop a software guide, applicable to all geographic areas,
that economically identifies production problems and suggests
corrective measures, focusing on cutting labor time and costs.
The product would be available on the Internet. James
Engineering has partnered with Arloma Corp., Santa Barbara,
California, and has access to nearly 500 wells in New Mexico,
Montana, Ohio and West Virginia. Project duration: 15 months.
Proposed DOE award: $103,504.
Technologies Consulting Services, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This firm will develop a software product that identifies
possible stripper wells for revitalization based on well
production and location of the problem. The software will
recommend how to enhance operations and be applicable to all
geographic areas. Industrial partners are Belden & Blake
Corporation, North Canton, Ohio, and Range Resources Corp.,
Hartville, Ohio. Project duration: 24 months. Proposed DOE
Stripper gas wells -- defined as
those that produce 60,000 cubic feet or less of natural gas per day
-- account for about 8% of natural gas produced domestically,
excluding Alaska and offshore sites. Since 1993, the number of wells
falling into this category has increased from 160,000 to the current
number of more than 176,000.
Because of rising maintenance and
production costs coupled with decreasing wellhead prices for natural
gas, the number of gas wells being plugged and abandoned -- in many
cases, prematurely -- is also increasing. At the same time, the
United States is projected to increase its demand for natural gas by
more than one-third during the next 10 years. Although gas stripper
wells account for a relatively small portion of gas supply,
preserving their production can be a key factor in meeting future
domestic gas demands.
The department's Federal Energy
Technology Center will manage these projects. The Center is the
major research arm of the department's Office of Fossil Energy.
-End of TechLine-
For more information,
Otis Mills, Jr., DOE Federal Energy Technology Center, 412/386-5890,
Gary Covatch, DOE Federal Energy Technology Center, 304/285-4589,