Release Date: September 20, 2001
|Energy Department Selects New Projects to Improve
Arctic Oil Production|
TULSA, OK - The special challenges confronting oil producers working in the Arctic will be the focus of two new research projects selected by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory.
Both projects - one by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the other by the University of Houston - will evaluate ways to boost the productivity of oil exploration and production operations on Alaska's North Slope in an environmentally sound manner. The projects are intended to develop and test advanced technologies that can locate and produce oil in the extreme climatic conditions, remote locations, and heightened environmental sensitivity that exist in the Arctic.
The research projects were selected from proposals received in response to the second round of an Energy Resources Program solicitation released by the Energy Department in December 2000. These projects combined with the earlier first round selections will provide innovative techniques and tools that support the DOE's petroleum research program while serving as a guide for industry efforts.
The projects will be managed by the Department's National Petroleum Technology
Office in Tulsa, OK. The office oversees petroleum-related research for
the National Energy Technology Laboratory as part of the Energy Department's
Fossil Energy research and development program.
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM
On the North Slope, drillers must use specially formulated synthetic-oil-based muds, rather than water-based muds, both for environmental reasons and to function properly in the Arctic climate. The synthetic muds, however, can change the properties of the core samples which geologists extract and analyze to determine the best ways to produce oil from the reservoir. The New Mexico researchers will explore ways to restore the original properties of the reservoir rock cores or perhaps to develop synthetic muds that do not have detrimental effects on the cores.
University of Houston, Houston, TX
University researchers are especially interested in a process called "water-alternate-gas" injection that operators could use in the future to produce heavy oil from the North Slope's shallow sand reservoirs. With today's state-of-the-art simulators, researchers can model how a single gas - methane, for example - behaves as it moves through a reservoir. When the gas composition varies, however, the modeling and simulation process becomes significantly more complex.
The University of Houston model could make it possible for future North Slope operators to predict how injecting methane, carbon dioxide, flue gases, or combinations of these gases, along with water, can enhance the production of North Slope heavy oil. In the case of carbon dioxide, the model could also reveal important information on how the greenhouse gas might be captured and remain in the reservoir, which could lead to a viable way of disposing of several megatons of the greenhouse gas at the North Slope.
|Contact: David Anna, DOE/NETL, 412-386-4646|