3.1.5. Subsequent Developments in DOE and Other Research Related to Eastern Gas Shales
The R&D efforts of DOE and GRI were well coordinated during the latter phases of the
As EGSP funding declined during the late 1980s, GRI funding focused on gas
shales increased. GRI followed a path that was very similar to DOE's, working with
industry to drill and complete joint wells where detailed data-gathering and analysis
could be used to demonstrate a scientific basis for alternative approaches to conventional
drilling, formation evaluation and well stimulation/completion practices.
A series of five
Comprehensive Study Wells in West Virginia and Kentucky helped to highlight the
economic benefits of new technologies for locating, stimulating and producing gas wells
in the Appalachian Basin. GRI also focused on ways that operators could improve well
performance by focusing on quality control during data acquisition and completion
operations, an emphasis that had been lacking in Devonian shale drilling operations prior
to that point.
From 1992 through 1996, GRI R&D efforts focused increasingly on the
active Antrim shale trend in the Northern portion of Lower Michigan. This fractured
shale exhibited water-filled fractures that had to be de-watered before the gas would
desorb, similar to coalbed methane wells.
At the same time, a portion of DOE's post-EGSP R&D efforts have remained focused on
the development of technologies that could help shale gas producers. In particular,
efforts to develop new geophysical technologies for locating natural fractures, new
methods for characterizing and modeling fractured reservoirs, and new tools for lowering
the cost of marginal gas well production in Appalachian Basin.
The Stripper Well
Consortium, a DOE-industry collaborative effort that has invested $7.1 million to fund 62
projects since 2001, recently approved nine new R&D projects in April 2006. Three of
these projects propose improvements to methods for the removal of liquids from marginal
shale gas wells, a perennial problem for stripper well operators that receives little
attention from the larger service companies.
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