Release Date: August 15, 2001
|DOE Selects 2 Projects to Help Boost Gas Flow
from Low-Permeability Formations
New Technologies Targeted at Future Gas Production From "Tight" Formations in Western U.S.
MORGANTOWN, WV - America has vast resources of natural gas, but President Bush's National Energy Policy cautions that domestic production of the easier "conventional" gas could peak as early as 2015.
To help prepare for the day when the Nation's increasing demand for clean-burning natural gas will have to be met by gas trapped in denser, more difficult-to-produce "unconventional" formations, the U.S. Department of Energy has selected two firms to develop advanced methods for locating and producing these low permeability gas reservoirs.
The National Energy Technology Laboratory, through its Strategic Center for Natural Gas, has selected: [click on project for details]
The two projects are valued at just over $5 million. Once negotiations are completed, they will join the Energy Department's fossil energy research portfolio. Currently, the department has nearly a dozen projects underway to develop better ways to find natural gas locked within low-permeability formations, produce more of it per well, and reduce the number of dry holes.
The effort to unlock the huge gas resources believed to exist in these difficult formations has become increasingly important with recent projections for dramatic increases in the Nation's consumption of natural gas, the cleanest burning fossil fuel.
The Energy Department currently forecasts that U.S. gas demand could rise by more than 50 percent over the next two decades. President Bush's National Energy Policy, released on May 17, 2001, warns that "While the resource base that supplies today's natural gas is vast, U.S. conventional production is project to peak as early as 2015. Increasingly, the nation will have to rely on natural gas from unconventional resources...."
The Administration's forecast is consistent with the findings of the National Petroleum Council, a non-government advisory group to the Energy Department, which estimated that production from low-permeability wells will need to double by 2015 to meet growing demand for natural gas.
Several studies by the U.S. Geological Survey estimate that low-permeability reservoirs contain several thousand trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to meet total U.S. demand for at least 30 years even if only one third of it can be recovered.
Much of the low-permeability natural gas resource is found in reservoirs deeper than 15,000 feet. Most of these wells are marginally productive because they do not have an extensive, interconnected network of natural fractures, which can serve as conduits through which natural gas can flow to producing wells.
Also, drillers have encountered large amounts of water in some low-permeability resources where water production would not be expected to be an issue. High-water production forces natural gas companies to think twice about developing certain areas and may cause the industry to abandon significant gas reserves.
The two new projects will focus on resolving these issues.
|Contact: David Anna, DOE/NETL, 412-386-4646|