More than half of the onshore natural gas wells in the lower-48 states
are classified as "stripper" wells, meaning that they produce
a very low volume of natural gas. Each year more and more wells are added
to this category -- the number is up by more than 30,000 in the last seven
years -- and a growing number of these wells are being plugged and abandoned.
To develop ways to reduce operating costs and keep gas flowing from the
wells, the department has chosen: [Click on company name for more
- Advanced Resources International, Inc.,
Houston, Texas, to develop a low-cost way to analyze stripper well performance
using, for example, artificial intelligence computer techniques to identify
patterns in the way wells produce. The company will also diagnose why
specific wells do not produce as expected and identify ways to single
out the best wells for corrective measures. Using gas wells in Texas
and Oklahoma, the company will test several novel technologies to restore
production. The Energy Department will provide nearly $175,000 for the
1-year project, while Advanced Resources will contribute more than $243,000.
- Petroleum Asset Management Company,
Nashville, Tennessee to demonstrate several technologies to improve
gas well pumping efficiency and reduce energy costs. For example, the
company will combine its proprietary pumping technology with remote
monitoring equipment powered by solar energy. Status reports on well
operations will be transmitted via satellite uplinks from the wells
to computers operating with web-based software. If the system is successful,
future gas production companies could monitor their wells over the Internet
from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. The Energy Department will
provide $76,000 and Petroleum Asset Management will contribute $19,000
for the 4-month project.
The two projects were the second group selected by the Energy Department
in its program to keep low-volume natural gas wells in production. Last
September, the department chose James
Engineering, inc., Marietta, Ohio, and Holditch Reservoir Technologies
Consulting Services, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to develop special
software programs to help operators prolong production from stripper gas
Stripper gas wells are defined as those that produce 60,000 cubic feet
or less of natural gas per day. These wells account for about 8% of natural
gas produced domestically, excluding Alaska and offshore sites.
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 United States is projected to increase
its demand for natural gas by more than one-third during the next 10 years.
The department's National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage these
projects. The Laboratory is the major research arm of the department's
Office of Fossil Energy.
DOE Stripper Well Round Two
Selections - Public Abstracts
Advanced Resources International, Inc.
Stripper gas wells are an important source of domestic energy supply
and under constant threat of permanent loss due to marginal economics.
In 1998, 192 thousand stripper gas wells produced over a Tcf of gas, at
an average rate of less than 16 Mcfd. This represents about 57% of all
producing gas wells in the onshore lower-48 states, yet only 8% of production.
Reserves of stripper gas wells are estimated to be only 1.6 Tcf, or slightly
over 1% of the onshore lower 48 total (end of the year 1996 data). Obviously,
stripper gas wells are at the very margin of economic sustenance. As the
demand for natural gas in the U.S. grows to the forecasted estimate of
over 30 Tcf annually by the year 2010, supply from current conventional
sources is expected to decline. Therefore, an important need exists to
fully exploit known domestic resources of natural gas, including those
represented by stripper gas wells.
This project will develop an efficient and low-cost methodology to broadly
categorize the well performance characteristics for a stripper gas field,
identify the high-potential candidate wells for remediation, and diagnose
the specific causes for well under-performance. A further objective is
to identify/develop, evaluate and test "new and novel," economically
viable remediation options. Finally, it is the objective of this project
that all the methods and technologies developed in this project be widely
applicable to stripper gas wells of all types across the country.
The proposed technical approach involves the application of various "new
and novel" analytic and remediation technologies that are believed
well suited to achieving the project objectives. On the analytic side,
it is proposed to utilize customized, variable compressibility type curves
for analyzing well performance, and hence for selecting remediation candidates.
It is also proposed to use artificial neural nets for identifying patterns
in well performance, and hence diagnose the causes of well under-performance
in a universally applicable yet customized fashion.
On the remediation side, several diverse "new and novel" technologies
are proposed, each targeting a different well under-performance problem.
In the case of tight reservoirs, the treatment of previously unstimulated
horizons is a high-potential objective, and the use of a new, low-cost
single-state fracture treatment is proposed. For damaged completions,
where near well damage bypass is needed, low-cost propellant stimulation
technology is proposed. Where fluid buildup is a problem, a new telescoping
velocity string to uncover perforations from standing water is proposed.
For the field demonstration, it is proposed to focus this aspect of the
project in Texas and Oklahoma. Finally, in terms of a final product and
technology transfer, the proposed approach is to prepared a "Stripper
Gas Well Enhancement" manual, inclusive of analytic tools, to be
distributed free of charge to stripper gas well operators. Dissemination
of this technology would be accomplished via traditional methods such
as workshops, technical symposia and journal articles.
Advanced Resources International would be the lead R&D contractor
for the project, providing technical expertise in the areas of reservoir
engineering, artificial neural net technology, and well remediation technology.
ARI would also manage the field demonstrations, and be responsible for
technology transfer and overall project management. In addition to ARI,
the project team consists of Union Pacific Resources, NSI Technologies,
and J Integral Engineering.
Petroleum Asset Management Company
Project Objectives: The principal benefits
to be established through this grant include the following results for
coal bed methane stripper wells:
- Enhanced gas production through more efficient elimination of water.
- Elimination of the need for an external power source to remove water.
- Improved removal of coal fines and suspended solids.
- Reduction of front-end, operating, and maintenance costs.
Technical Approach: Utilization of proprietary
Petroleum Asset Management Company (PAMCO) pumping technology, using a
computer controlled "pump-on-demand" feature to sense water
in the bore hole and remove the water more efficiently than currently
possible. With only one moving part below ground (a ball valve), PAMCO
expects to significantly reduce operating and maintenance costs. Remote
monitoring and control of the well will be accomplished through a built-in
satellite uplink connected to the well site by proprietary web-based software,
with access to the well site over the Internet from any computer, anywhere
in the world, 24-hours-a-day. Remote, near-real time alarm and messaging
will be available at low cost through an existing low earth orbit satellite
system (Orbcomm). R&D includes operating the pumping system off of
bore hole gas (with or without an air compressor) and powering the controller/communicator
with solar power, thereby eliminating the need for external power.
Grant Participants: PAMCO, Nashville, TN, and
a select industry partner and in additional collaboration with Western
Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY.