The paper was presented at the SPE/DOE Unconventional Gas Recovery Symposium of the Society of Petroleum Engineers held in Pittsburgh, PA, May 16-18, 1982. The material is subject to correction by the author. Permission to copy is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words. Write: 6200 N. Central Expwy., Dallas, TX 75206.
In mid-1981, the Gas Research Institute (GRI) drafted comprehensive programs for research directed toward increasing the national supply of programs for research directed toward increasing the national supply of natural gas from unconventional sources. Low-permeability (tight) gas sands are one of these sources. GRI's predraft planning for the tight gas sands program was for a duration of about one year and included workshops with advisors from the natural gas industry. The resulting program plan for tight gas sands research is oriented to industry participation and field testing. Research results are freely distributed to a wide variety of users.
The tight gas sands program is initiating in 1982 planning updates by GRI are on an annual cycle. GRI is proceeding with six projects for tight gas sands research, involving analyses for producing natural gas from tight blanket sands that are presently considered as non-commercial. The program plan is comprised of a sequence of projects relating to resource plan is comprised of a sequence of projects relating to resource identification, formation evaluation, fluids and proppants investigations, fracture design, reservoir modeling, and staged field tests with technology transfer. Accelerated research work is scheduled for 1983, with emphasis on field evaluations beginning in 1984.
This paper describes the philosophy, objective, and content of the GRI program plan, which is currently scheduled through 1988. Accomplishment of program plan, which is currently scheduled through 1988. Accomplishment of the program is expected to provide for significant advances in tight gas sands research. GRI is a non-profit scientific organization which contracts applicable research work to others for benefit to the natural gas industry and to natural gas consumers.
Significant quantities of natural gas exist in low-permeability (tight) sands across the United States. The recoverable gas potential of these tight sands is very large; a current estimate places recoverable reserves as high as 574 trillion cubic feet (Tcf.). However, a combination of economic uncertainties and technical limitations has prevented widespread commercial exploitation of this resource.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a special incentive pricing mechanism for tight gas reservoirs, and has designated numerous formations as eligible for incentive pricing. However, this action has not encouraged uniform development and production of gas from tight sand formations. To date, resource development has occurred primarily in limited areas. In these areas, state-of-the-art technologies primarily in limited areas. In these areas, state-of-the-art technologies can be used in conjunction with a limited knowledge of the formation characteristics to stimulate economic production rates. Successful research and development in exploitation technology is necessary if the full potential of tight gas sands is to be realized.
In recent years, the strategy of the Gas Research Institute (GRI) has been to perform research and development (R and D) in support of ongoing industry and government programs, and to take advantage of important opportunities not budgeted in R and D programs of others. With the advent of budget cuts in the U.S. Department of Energy, and the concurrent realignment of government priorities and objectives toward more long-term, high-risk research, GRI is shifting its strategy, and is taking a lead role in implementing a comprehensive program to develop the technology necessary for gas extraction from tight sand formations.
The objective of this GRI program is to develop the technology necessary to achieve gas recovery from blanket tight gas sands that are not exploitable using current gas recovery methods and to maximize the potential through industrial cofunding and participation. potential through industrial cofunding and participation.
The necessary R and D in tight gas sands present complex problems. The resource is dispersed over a large geographic area and occurs in a wide variety of geologic environments as indicated in Figure 1.