Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Ultra-deepwater and Unconventional Resources Program)
Field Site Testing of Low Impact Oil Field Access Roads: Reducing the Footprint in Desert Ecosystems
Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), Texas A&M University (TAMU)
Texas A&M University is proposing to build a series of minimal impact O&G lease roads and then test their effectiveness in reducing the environmental footprint of field development in sensitive desert ecosystems. The goal of our program is to reduce the environmental impact of mature field O&G operations and reduce the costs and regulatory delays associated with additional resource development. The overall objective of this program is to identify technology that will reduce the field operating costs and minimize the environmental impact of future development.
This project will identify and test new techniques to reduce the environmental impact of oil field lease roads in desert-like ecosystems. The goal is to identify cost effective technology usable by small operators in existing fields. Independents and small producers operate more than 90% of the onshore U.S. oil and gas fields. Most of these fields are mature reservoirs. It is generally thought that existing access roads, surface production facilities and production wells represent infrastructure that can be leveraged. In fact to maintain production facilities or in the case of enhanced recovery, most of this infrastructure will have to be upgraded to support increased field activity and production.
The test site will be located at the Texas A&M University Desert Test Center near Pecos, Texas on the edge of the Chihuahua desert. This research program is classified (NETLF451.1-1/3) as field test research thus not requiring arduous regulatory approval for testing. The experimental test sections at the site will be instrumented for remote measurement, with the goal of finding the material with the ability to withstand both normal and heavy truck traffic over intermittent periods through a complete calendar year. One type of low impact road (a “disappearing road”) will be incorporated into the test site as part of a nationwide engineering scholastic competition currently being conducted by the Global Petroleum Institute (GPRI) (http://www.gpri.org/disapperaingroad ).
The impact of the project will be realized by providing the means to reduce the impact of increased field activity in all areas of the Western U.S. A 1% addition to natural gas reserves represents more than $4 billion dollars. The business community, the public sector, and the small O&G producers all benefit.
Principal Investigators: David Burnett