NETL: News Release - Research Projects to Address Technical Challenges Facing Small Oil and Natural Gas Producers Selected by DOE for Further Development
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Release Date: June 20, 2012

Research Projects to Address Technical Challenges Facing Small Oil and Natural Gas Producers Selected by DOE for Further Development

Washington, DC — Nine new research projects aimed at extending the life of mature oil and natural gas fields, while simultaneously reducing the environmental footprint of production operations and minimizing environmental risks, have been selected to receive a total of $8.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE).

Research needs addressed by the projects include the development of "green" fracturing fluids, a non-chemical ultrasonic method for reducing paraffin deposits in wellbore tubulars, and an innovative multiphase compressor that can help reduce fugitive methane emissions. Other projects will focus on enhancing recovery from mature oil fields, developing digital produced-water management tools to facilitate more efficient regulatory decisions related to unconventional gas development in the Uinta Basin, and furthering the development of a solar-powered humidification-dehumidification method to treat produced water.

The total value of the projects is $14.2 million over 2 years, with approximately $5.7 million of cost-share provided by the research partners in addition to $8.5 million in federal funds. The research contracts will be administered by the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA), under the management of the FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The projects add to the research portfolio for FE’s Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Program, which develops technologies and strategies to improve the safety and minimize the environmental impacts of oil and natural gas exploration and production.

Brief descriptions of the selected projects follow:

  • DaniMer Scientific, LLC (Bainbridge, GA)Field Demo of Eco-Friendly Propped Hydraulic Fractures. DaniMer Scientific will further develop a hydraulic fracturing treatment method that employs a biodegradable polymer for transporting proppant, requires less horsepower, is simpler to execute, has a smaller footprint, and requires less water. DOE share: $895,371; Recipient share: $897,600; Duration: 1 year
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, WA)Upstream Ultrasonic Processing for Small Producers: Preventative Maintenance for Paraffin Management in Production Tubing Using Non-Invasive Ultrasonic Technology.Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will develop and demonstrate an environmentally responsible and cost-effective ultrasonic alternative to hot oil treatments and resistive heating for preventing paraffin deposition in production tubing. DOE share: $752,500; Recipient share: $188,000; Duration: 2 years
  • OsComp Systems Inc. (Cambridge, MA)Hybrid Rotor Compression for Multiphase and Liquids-Rich Wellhead Production Applications. In this project, OsComp Systems will develop and demonstrate a hybrid rotor compression technology that can be used as a multiphase compression solution for wet gas applications in small producer environments. This will allow for continued production from wells that would otherwise be abandoned and potentially reduce fugitive gas emissions as well. DOE share: $1,368,250; Recipient share: $1,155,000; Duration: 1.5 years
  • Kansas University Center for Research (KUCR), Tertiary Oil Recovery Project (Lawrence, KS) — Field Demonstration of Chemical Flooding of the Trembley Oilfield, Reno County, Kansas. KUCR researchers will design, test, and implement a chemical flood for the Trembley Field, in Reno County, KS, to demonstrate to the small-producer community the applicability of similar chemical flooding methods in other mature fields. DOE share: $1,406,007; Recipient share: $1,139,671; Duration: 2 years
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, MO)Study and Pilot Test of Preformed Particle Gel Conformance Control Combined with Surfactant Treatment. Researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology will demonstrate how a preformed particle gel (PPG) and a surfactant can be combined into one enhanced oil recovery process where the PPG element will preferentially enter fractures to reduce their permeability, while the surfactant will be squeezed into non-swept zones to reduce interfacial tension, alter wettability, and improve recovery. DOE share: $863,452; Recipient share: $898,863; Duration: 2 years
  • The University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK) Reduction of Uncertainty in Surfactant-Flooding Pilot Design using Multiple Single Well Tests, Fingerprinting, and Modeling. University of Oklahoma researchers will advance the technology of surfactant/polymer (SP) flooding, in particular for Oklahoma’s Pennsylvanian-aged sandstone reservoirs and similar geological formations in other states that contain high total dissolved solids brines, through laboratory and field tests. DOE share: $1,058,074; Recipient share: $265,068; Duration: 2 years
  • The University of Texas (Austin, TX) Water Management in Mature Oil Fields Using Advanced Particle Gels. In this project, University of Texas researchers will advance understanding of particle gel processes via lab experiments and develop a numerical simulation tool to optimize particle gel treatments designed to increase oil recovery and reduce water production. DOE share: $902,609; Recipient share: $264,445; Duration: 2 years.
  • Utah Geologic Survey (Salt Lake City, UT) Basin-Scale Produced Water Management Tools and Options, Uinta Basin, Utah. The Utah Geologic Survey will create Uinta Basin-wide, digital, produced-water management tools that integrate produced water character, water disposal/reuse alternatives, water transport requirements, and groundwater sensitivity factors to allow for quicker and more efficient regulatory and management decisions related to unconventional gas development. The researchers will also investigate options for combining produced-water treatment with geothermal heat recovery, power generation, and treated water reuse, and will compile produced-water management best practices that can increase protection of critical alluvial aquifers. DOE share: $526,711; Recipient share: $175,570; Duration: 2 years
  • Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC) of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro, NM)Cost-Effective Treatment of Produced Water Using Co-Produced Energy Sources - Phase II: Field Scale Demo and Commercialization. PRRC will further develop a produced-water treatment process utilizing a humidification-dehumidification process and solar energy that was successfully field tested during a previous project, scaling up the prototype to a higher capacity. DOE share: $681,826; Recipient share: $711,622; Duration: 2 years


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