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Texas Tech Petroleum Engineers Visit NETL to Learn about Lab’s Permian Basin Research
Texas Visit

A team of petroleum engineering researchers from Texas Tech University visited NETL in Morgantown, West Virginia, to discuss potential collaborative efforts focused on technologies associated with recovery of oil and gas from the Permian Basin and carbon dioxide (CO2) capture, storage and use in enhanced oil recovery.

The Permian Basin, an 86,000 square mile sedimentary basin located in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico, has produced oil for more than 80 years, and it is still one of the largest petroleum-producing basins in the U.S. Oil reserves in the Permian Basin are estimated at 4.2 billion barrels and it contains an estimated 22% of U.S. oil reserves. The region has the biggest potential for additional oil production in the country, containing 29% of estimated future oil reserve growth.

The Texas Tech delegation, led by Marshall Watson, Ph.D., chairman of the Bob L. Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering, visited regional research universities in conjunction with its NETL stop. The mission of Watson’s department is to conduct research for the safe and efficient development, production and management of petroleum reserves.

Watson was specifically interested in learning about NETL’s expertise and capabilities related to petroleum engineering, machine learning; sensors, carbon emissions/environmental engineering; water management, and other oil- and gas-related energy topics.

NETL has a record of productive collaboration with industry and academia on Permian Basin related research activities of interest to Texas Tech researchers. For example, the Laboratory:

  • Demonstrated how data-driven modeling and high-resolution reservoir characterization results in better management of CO2-enhanced oil recovery and carbon sequestration.
  • Measured and analyzed geochemical signals — information in liquids, gases, and mineral deposits of the earth — to study the effects of CO2 enhanced oil recovery operations within the Permian Basin in Texas.
  • Used machine learning — computer systems or programs using data and algorithms, statistical models and pattern recognition — to improve efficiency, eliminate downtime, and enhance safety in oil and natural gas operations.
  • Maintained a robust sensors and controls research portfolio that develops new tools for predictive maintenance in energy operations.
  • Conducted water management research that increases water efficiency and reuse, treatment of alternative sources of water, and energy-water analysis.
  • Pursued carbon capture and storage research to understand migration and permanent storage of CO2 in different geologic settings.

NETL and Texas Tech both operate oil and gas test wells.

Texas Tech University operates Red Raider No. 1, a test well drilled to depth of 4,120 feet — the largest test well on university property in the U.S. It can test all forms of artificial lift installations and has a horizontal well productivity and offshore technology capability for future development. The purpose of the facility is to provide a location for training undergraduate students in oil field operations.

Meanwhile, NETL, in partnership with West Virginia University, Ohio State University, and Northeast Natural Energy, maintains the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory in West Virginia — a test well operation that provides detailed subsurface data and monitors new technologies designed to improve the recovery and efficiency of unconventional resource development.