Release Date: August 16, 2007
|DOE-Led Partnership Creates Tool to |
Raise Output of Non-Conventional Natural Gas
Improves Ability to Optimize Development of Reserves Critical to Domestic Production
WASHINGTON, DC — The Department of Energy and Pinnacle Technologies have successfully demonstrated a new technology that will help optimize the output of natural gas from the often-grudging non-conventional reserves on which the U.S. will have to depend for half its domestic production in the future.
Non-conventional natural gas reserves found in tight sandstone formations, gas shales and coal seams are critical to maintaining the level of domestic production in the near term, according to the National Petroleum Council. Current projections of the Energy Information Administration see non-conventional production growing by 2.2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), or 28 percent through 2030. Such production was 34 percent of domestic output, or 8 Tcf, in 2005 and is expected to be 50 percent, or 10.2 Tcf, in 2030.
A technique called hydraulic fracturing is required to make non-conventional production economic. In fracturing, fluids under pressure are pumped into reservoirs under pressure to crack open new pathways for increased flow of oil and natural gas to the well.
The new Pinnacle technology, also applicable to oil production, is an advanced mapping system for fracturing that delivers a more accurate picture of underground conditions and allows improved alignment of induced fractures with natural fractures in ways which optimize flow. Benefits include better quality data, fewer mapping failures, improved understanding of fracture behavior in a reservoir and improved well spacing and placement.
A hybrid system that combines two present mapping techniques into one was built and tested. The new tool eliminates steps, cuts costs and increases the opportunities for greater than normal recovery. The combination allows concurrent operation of tiltmeter observation and "microseismic fracture mapping" with geophone sensors in one array in one well, including the fracture well, rather than the multiple wells and arrays of current practice.
The technological advance is the product of a joint venture of the Office of Fossil Energy's Natural Gas and Oil Program and Pinnacle Technologies. The venture was managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory.
Successful results from demonstrations and a long-term test led to the fabrication of a full array for routine application, which became available in the spring of 2007. Prototype arrays were demonstrated in a Colorado coalbed methane well and in a Barnett shale test. The long-term test took place in the San Andreas Fault in California in the SAFOD (San Andreas Fault Observatory Well at Depth) program. Funded by the National Science Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, this scientific well is essentially a borehole observatory used to monitor the famous California fault zone.
Pinnacle Technologies, which maintains domestic offices in Texas, Colorado, and California, plans to offer this new service commercially.