MIT receives $1 million from DOE for seismic R&D

Analytical technique targets reservoir ‘sweet spots’ with time-lapse vertical seismic profiling.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) approximately $500,000 to develop an analytical technique to better locate and characterize naturally fractured sweet spots and induced fractures in tight gas formations. The research program will apply techniques developed in time-lapse ‘4D’ seismic acquisition to near-well vertical seismic profiling (VSP).


The technique seeks to ‘glean clues’ about the behavior and characteristics of fluids in the reservoir using a new method of analyzing scattered-waves from 4D VSPs. The technique also aims to locate and characterize natural and induced fractures and optimize well placement.


After developing the required processing and interpretation methods, researchers will work with Denver-based EnCana Oil & Gas Inc. to demonstrate these methods in Jonah field in Wyoming. DOE will provide over half of the project’s nearly $1 million total cost. The funding targets what is described as one of America’s major sources of natural gas: low-permeability, tight gas formations. Production of unconventional gas in the United States represents about 40 percent of the Nation’s total gas output in 2004, but could grow to 50 percent by 2030 if advanced technologies are developed and implemented. The project will be managed by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

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