Low permeability gas reservoirs ("tight gas sands") are abundant in the U.S. Economic recovery of the gas in these formations requires reservoir stimulation, usually massive hydraulic fracturing. Significant investigations of tight gas sands by the National Petroleum Council (NPC)(1), Lewin and Associates(2), and the Gas Research Institute (GRI )(3) have agreed that, although some formations can be profitably produced with existing technology, improved reservoir diagnostic and stimulation techniques are required to realize the full potential of the resource.

Most major operators and well-service companies conduct research and development to improve tight gas technology. A survey of tight gas research managers in eight companies was conducted to determine their R&D priorities and the constraints under which they operate.

The responses of the R&D managers showed a high degree of consensus on tight gas R&D objectives, company priorities, decisionmaking criteria, current activities, and constraints. The representatives of six operating and two service companies stated that they prefer R&D that produces high "payoffs" in the near term, with low-to-medium risk of R&D failure. This characteristic leads industry to focus current R&D on measurement and prediction of fracture geometry (shape and orientation), particularly in the lower-risk blanket-type (as opposed to lens-type or lenticular) formations. Despite the presence of price incentives for production of tight gas and the potential of high return, the constraints on available personnel and funds for R&D limit industry's willingness to conduct the long-term, high-risk R&D needed to produce the lenticular resource. The industry R&D personnel interviewed were familiar with, and generally endorse, those long-range and high-risk objectives and priorities of the Federal tight gas research program that complement university and industry efforts.

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