E&P Notes (September 2015)
- Jack Betz (JPT Staff Writer) | Stephen Rassenfoss (JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor) | Trent Jacobs (JPT Senior Technology Writer)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- September 2015
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 38 - 44
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Grant Helps University Expand Undergraduate Curriculum
Jack Betz, JPT Staff Writer
Numerical models have been used by the oil and gas industry for more than a decade to simulate the mechanical properties of rock, yet many universities only require undergraduate petroleum engineering students to take one or two geology classes, according to a professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
In an effort to change this culture, Missouri S&T, with help from Chevron, became the first US university to offer mechanical earth modeling (MEM) classes at the undergraduate level in 2008.
This year, Chevron created a doctoral scholarship position to assist Missouri S&T in expanding the MEM curriculum initiative to other university partners. So far, Pennsylvania State University and Louisiana State University have both expressed interest.
Testing Heavy Oil Production Without Steam Heating
Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor
A new device that heats thick oil sands crude with radio waves is being used for the first time in a production well in western Canada. Rather than pumping steam into a well to reduce the viscosity of oil as thick as peanut butter, the new method combines an electromagnetic heating element and a solvent to mobilize the crude at a much lower temperature.
Suncor Energy is leading the four-company group doing the pilot with support from the province of Alberta, which is backing projects developing affordable ways to reduce emissions from oil sands operations.
The pilot began by heating the well using a specially created antenna from Harris Energy Solutions. The US defense contractor used what it has learned to reduce the heat emitted by military communication devices in a totally different way.
In a previous test, the device was used to warm the oil sands around a drilled shaft in the wall of an open-pit mine. It was able to heat the oil sands deposit to the required temperature. For the pilot, a solvent will be added when the reservoir reaches the required temperature to see if the combination will perform as well as expected.
Inaugural Challenge Generates New Proppant Ideas
Jack Betz, JPT Staff Writer
A Canadian company has developed a lightweight polymer that can grow to a predetermined size when submerged in water.
Although it is capable of swelling up to 10 times its original volume, the polymer’s growth can be “programmed” ahead of time to prevent blocking of production pathways if used as a proppant, said Sumitra Rajagopalan, founder and chief executive officer of Bioastra Technologies.
The material is also slightly pliable in its enlarged state, allowing it to bear compressive forces without becoming brittle and crushing.
Rajagopalan’s company makes smart materials, meaning that they change their properties based on external cues such as voltage or temperature. It sells many of its products to the biomedical industry.
The company recently became interested in researching oil and gas applications through its participation in the first GE Statoil Open Innovation Challenge.
Entrants were asked to find ways to reduce or replace the use of sand in hydraulic fracturing. Bioastra was one of five winners.
Another winning contestant, University of North Dakota researcher John Hurley, focused his efforts on creating a lightweight ceramic proppant that can be manufactured from raw materials available in the Williston basin, instead of relying on shipments from other states.
Refracturing With Expandable Steel: A Stronger Alternative to Chemical Diverters?
Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer
Enventure Global Technology is working to convince operators that its solid expandable steel liners perform better than chemical diverter agents for refracturing operations. Its technology is called the ESeal ReFrac Liner.
Jerry Fritsch, global lead technical advisor at Enventure, said the key to a successful refracture depends on the operator’s ability to seal off the old perforations. Using expandable steel instead of a diverting agent, the company believes operators will have a much higher degree of certainty that they are stimulating new rock during the refracture.
“The real dilemma with trying to refrac with diverters right now is that there is just no control” of where the fracturing fluids will go, he said. However, if an expandable liner is run into the well instead of a diverting agent, then the operator carries out each individual fracture treatment much like when the well was originally completed. Once the old perforations are isolated, “you put a plug in there, you back up, and you perf,” Fritsch added.
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