Washington, D.C. — Two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) projects funded by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory provide quick and easy web-based access to sought after information on tight-gas sandstone plays. Operators can use the data on the websites to expand natural gas recovery in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico and the central Appalachian Basin of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
As production from conventional natural gas resources declines, natural gas from tight-gas sandstone formations is expected to contribute a growing percentage to the nation’s energy supply. “Tight gas” is natural gas contained in unusually impermeable geologic reservoirs. Gas flows through these reservoirs at generally low rates and is more difficult to produce. Improved data availability, analysis, and synthesis for such reservoirs will enable operators to expand natural gas recovery from tight sandstones through more cost-effective exploration strategies in emerging gas fields – or plays - and more efficient infill drilling and recompletion programs in existing fields.
In the first project, led by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, researchers developed a database of well logs, core analysis data, and natural gas production results for Dakota sandstone wells in the San Juan Basin. All data were digitized and integrated into a single GIS (geographic information systems) database to make them readily accessible to operators evaluating trends in Dakota reservoir quality and natural gas production. Recognition of such trends will aid researchers and operators in defining natural gas sweet spots and selecting new prospects for drilling.
West Virginia University and the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, with contributions from the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, led the second project, which focused on tight-gas sandstones of the Appalachian Basin. The goal of the project was to provide public access to well-specific and regional data for five tight-gas plays in the central Appalachian Basin: the Mississippian-Devonian Berea/Murrysville Sandstone Play, three Upper Devonian sandstone plays (Venango, Bradford, and Elk), and the Lower Silurian Clinton/Medina Play. The compiled data include newly scanned well logs, core data, production data, published reports, and unpublished reports such as student theses and dissertations. These are now available through an interactive GIS-based data delivery system.
The websites for the tight sandstone plays of the San Juan and Appalachian Basins showcase the benefits of government investment in providing valuable information to independent operators who drill nearly 90 percent of all wells in the United States.