GHS Publisher, Keith Mauck, and I recently attended a conference in Washington regarding the future of Shale Development. There were many industry, government and NGO players at this two-day conference. It caught my attention that some of those players see a potential for radical improvements in the efficiency of gas extraction from shale. Currently, they say drilling is about playing the statistical probabilities--you’ll have to drill many duds to find the ones that pay off big. Nothing new there. The USGS reported that the Maximum EUR from the Haynesville is 2 orders of magnitude greater than the minimum EUR. What if it weren't a crap shot?
What fascinated me as a non-technical layman is that some of those present, including a scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL), seem to believe we will one day be able to scientifically identify the optimal locations for well placement and how best to drain an entire formation. What a huge impact it would make in so many ways if only half the wells were needed to extract the same amount of energy. The entire industry dynamics could change. A rep from Lawrence Livermore described the process necessary to arrive at that—High Performance Computers, like those at LLNL, would need to create 3D models of the entire formation using seismic and micro-seismic data. The optimal solutions could then be derived, and, in a sense, drive the bits exactly on the most productive faults in the richest areas. I don’t know how far off that future might be, but I got the impression it was a matter of time. Given how quickly shale technology has moved perhaps that’s sooner rather than later.
Anyone else have some insight on this?
Ben INA Geologist, but I think the problem in the unconventional formations is the small size of the voids through which gas flows. regardless of computing power, its going to be pretty hard to find them. On the frac side itself however, seismic, micro-seismic, and computer modeling will probably advance radically in the next 10 years. The number of stages, control of pressure and flow of propant that is already being done is astounding. I was told by one operator that a particular change that increased costs 20% increased recovered gas 40%
In the conventional reservoirs, computer power is already driving the drill bit. Worked on a project a while back in which the geologist described the target as a living room buried 7000' below the surface. Deviation beyond that box would likely mean missing the pool of oil. Other nearby wells were marginal, from the same depth, but they've now put 4 wells into different parts of that the house, and all of them have been excellent.
Thanks for sharing that experience. This is truly amazing to watch the progress of science. The Baker Hughes rep at the conference mentioned their progress in nanotech which will allow them to insert components into the well and then make them dissolve on command. He didn't elaborate further.
This is quite interesting. Scientists could target a formation or area for the best place to drill and drain the formation. That's a lot less impact on the land.
thanks for posting this. I am always interested in future tech.