University oil and gas projects funded

The Department of Energy has just announced new three-year grants totaling $4.5 million to academic institutions in the US. Projects spanning geochemistry, seismic analysis and rock mechanics are intended to improve competitiveness in the domestic oil industry. Commercial partners in the research include HARC, Paradigm Geophysical and Shell International.

The US Department of Energy’s National Petroleum Technology Office (NPTO - part of the National Energy Technology Laboratory) has awarded grants to six new upstream R&D projects designed to develop advanced diagnostics and imaging technologies for oil and gas.


NPTO has awarded the University of Tennessee and the USGS $537,263 to study the geologic, chemical, and thermal history of the southeastern Appalachian Basin to predict the location for new oil-bearing formations that may have eluded previous exploration.


Colorado School of Mines, along with the Houston Advanced Research Center, Paradigm Geophysical, Inc., and Texas A&M University are the beneficiaries of a $750,000 grant to develop a seismic direct hydrocarbon detection methodology for application in the deepwater GOM.


San Antonio-based Southwest Research Institute gets $858,000 to ‘investigate the relationship between changes in seismic signal strength to reservoir rock properties.’ According to NPTO, today’s seismic techniques ‘are unable to distinguish accurately between variations in the texture and porosity of reservoir rock and the concentration of hydrocarbons trapped within the rock.’


$750,000 of funding goes to a study to be performed by the University of Wyoming and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Here the influence of chemical characteristics and interactions of water, oil and rock on the tendency of oil droplets to ‘cling to the reservoir rock’ will be investigated. The focus will be on carbonate formations, where these characteristics are said to be poorly understood.


The Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) at Texas A&M University along with The University of Texas receive $630,000 to design computer simulation techniques to trace the fluids pathways through the reservoir using ‘partitioning tracers’. These chemicals are able to selectively follow a specific fluid in the reservoir and allow operators to distinguish between oil and water flowing through the reservoir.


MIT along with Shell International receives $941,000 to develop a reservoir flow model tailored to fractured carbonate reservoirs and tight gas sand formations. MIT and Shell will use seismic data to predict fracture distribution in 3D using innovative techniques involving rock stress and well log data.

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