Editor’s note: JPT surveyed major universities around the world regarding their key upstream research and development projects and activities. This is the second installment of the two-part series.
Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University, US
The Crisman Institute for Petroleum Research at Texas A&M University houses the Halliburton Center for Unconventional Resources, the Chevron Center for Well Construction and Production, the Schlumberger Center for Reservoir Description and Dynamics, and the Center for Energy, Environment, and Transportation Innovation. The focus of each center is to develop technology and processes to reduce the finding and development costs in petroleum reservoirs. The institute facilitates funding for graduate programs and research that includes work toward better mathematical models, better rheological reservoir control chemistry, and better predrilling geological interpretation and well modeling.
Texas A&M’s Global Petroleum Research Institute (GPRI) is the managing partner of a cooperative effort among 12 major oil producing companies conducting critical research in developing technologies to address the increasing demand for cost-effective production and enhanced recovery. The GPRI is primarily focused on unconventional resources, said David Burnett, research coordinator. There has been a “sea change” in focus since the US gas shale plays have emerged and offered opportunity to make gas a fuel supply for the power grid, he said. It is important to teach students, industry sponsors, and the public about appropriate water use and handling in drilling, as one’s license to operate is ultimately determined by environmental performance, Burnett said. If an operator is inattentive or environmentally negligent, it ends up out of business. “And one of the biggest parts of that is water,” Burnett said.
It takes lots of water to drill, and for 50 or 60 years the industry has reinjected produced water into the reservoirs. But shales are not reservoirs, so there is no way to appropriately reinject them, Burnett explained. Besides water treatment in gas shales, GPRI is currently collaborating with major operators on developing an environmentally friendly seismic signaling device and is also researching ways to keep deep sea pipelines from getting clogged, which is a challenge because low deep sea temperatures cause produced hydrocarbons to congeal.