US DOE funds 13 petroleum R&D projects

THE United States government will put US$10.7 million towards 13 research and development projects aimed at recovering large unconventional oil and gas resources, as well as alleviating the environmental impacts of drilling, said Department of Energy secretary Samuel W Bodman yesterday.

With a total value of US$16.3 million, the projects will receive US$5.6 million in co-funding from industry and academic partners.

Most of the research projects focus on boosting recovery of unconventional natural gas found in coal seams, tight reserviors, and ultra-deep natural gas resources more than 4500 metres) underground.

Combined, these sources of unconventional natural gas are estimated to contain 700 trillion cubic feet in the US alone, compared with an industry estimate of 190tcf in conventional natural gas reserves.

“Currently unconventional natural gas currently accounts for nearly one-quarter of total domestic supply, a share that will rise with future technological advancements such as those being investigated by the funded projects,” said Bodman.

“Six of the projects will improve the efficiency of drilling, appraising, and production of low-permeability formations by collecting, analysing, and publicising a variety of critical data. This will enable operators to generate less waste and extract more gas from fewer wells.”

The DOE is also researching the difficult environments encountered while drilling ultra-deep gas wells – another untapped resource for additional natural gas.

Three projects will focus on ‘smart’ drilling systems, designed to withstand the extreme temperatures, pressures, and corrosive conditions of deep reservoirs.

Two other projects aim to reduce environmental impact and lower costs. One in Wyoming is intended to use an injectable purifier at the wellhead to economically remove impurities from coalbed methane-produced water to make it suitable for crop irrigation and consumption by animals.

The other, being conducted at Texas A&M University will incorporate current and emerging technologies into a clean, environmentally friendly drilling system that well let operators guide drillbits to preprogrammed targets automatically.

These 11 cost-shared projects targeting natural gas supply cover locations in the Rocky Mountains, San Juan Basin, Appalachian Basin, Wyoming’s Greater Green River Basin, Salt Lake City in Utah and several locations in Texas.

Two additional projects in Mississippi and Texas are aimed at significantly improving CO2 enhanced oil recovery technology.

At Mississippi State University, researchers intend to improve oil recovery by up to 100% by using environmentally friendly nutrients to stimulate the growth of microorganisms so that water and CO2 are diverted to previously unswept reservoir zones.

At Texas A&M University, researchers plan to develop efficient tools and a systematic work flow for improved oil reservoir characterization and modeling. The technology will be demonstrated in a CO2 flood in the Permian Basin of West Texas.


A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the energy sector, brought to you by the Energy News Bulletin Intelligence team.

A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the energy sector, brought to you by the Energy News Bulletin Intelligence team.


ENB CCS Report 2024

ENB’s CCS Report 2024 finds that CCS could be the much-needed magic bullet for Australia’s decarbonisation drive


ENB Cost Report 2023

ENB’s latest Cost Report findings provide optimism as investments in oil and gas, as well as new energy rise.


ENB Future of Energy Report 2023

ENB’s inaugural Future of Energy Report details the industry outlook on the medium-to-long-term future for the sector in the Asia Pacific region.


ENB Cost Report 2021

This industry-wide report aims to understand current cost levels across the energy industry