Two additional projects have been selected under a Department of Energy
solicitation designed to advance performance when drilling for natural
gas. The projects are a key component of the Department’s gas exploration
and production research program, and support the President’s National
Energy Policy, which calls for boosting domestic production of natural
gas to ensure an adequate future supply at reasonable prices.
With shallow and conventional natural gas resources in the United States
being depleted, drillers must reach for gas miles below the earth’s
surface, where temperatures run up to 450 EF and pressures are hundreds
of times greater than atmospheric pressure. “Smart drilling”
options can increase productivity, improve drilling safety, and lower
costs when drilling for these hard-to-reach deep gas supplies.
The new projects join two projects selected last fall under the same
solicitation. For more information about the earlier projects, please
Descriptions of the two new projects follow:
- General Electric Global Research, Niskayuna, N.Y., will conduct
a two-phase project to develop a revolutionary solid-state gamma ray
detector for extended downhole gas and oil exploration in harsh environments.
Gamma rays detectors read the electromagnetic force given by a rock
formation and provide measurements of the formation to drillers. The
new technology offers significant benefits to the drilling industry:
it will be able to operate in temperatures as high as 200 EC, and at
a 40 percent increase in operating depth over current technology; and
it will have a higher immunity to shock and vibration, leading to a
longer life downhole.
This three-year project has a total budget of $1,587,807. DOE’s
share is $1,437,807.
- Pinnacle Technologies, Inc., San Francisco, Calif., will develop
and test an advanced “hydraulic fracture mapping system.”
To allow gas to flow more freely to a well, drillers force sand-water
mixtures into target gas-bearing formations at high pressures to crack
the rock. This process is called hydraulic fracturing. As the fracture
is created, its dimensions are measured and mapped. The new system will
incorporate seismic sensors and tiltmeters, which detect and measure
small changes in the earth’s surface. In addition to the new tool,
Pinnacle will develop and test improved instrumentation to increase
viewing distance and accuracy. These advancements will improve the quality
of hydraulic fracture mapping results, reduce limits on the use of fracture
mapping, and make the process more cost effective.
This two-year project has a total budget of $1,509,722. DOE’s
share is $912,222.