Wednesday, May 4, 2011
If there is anyone out there who has been following my blog or will even read this, you might know that my posts have kinda been all over the place in terms of the oil and gas industry. For those of you who are taking a look at the blog for the first time, I will give a little summary or a list rather of some of the things I have posted about throughout this semester. I created this blog (unwillingly) for a Science Communication class that I (unwillingly) had to complete to graduate from Colorado School of Mines. In my cluster of posts, I started talking about some basic ideas; types of drilling rigs (onshore and offshore), horizontal drilling methods, new technological drilling tools. As the semester went on, I learned communicating with the public was a lot more than throwing technical details at them. I started posted more about how these advancements helped access uneconomical reserves and flatten out the production trend in the U.S. rather than it continuing and a steep downward trend. Several of my posts have been about hydraulic fracturing and the doors it has opened for future production. I guess my main point in the majority of my posts has been seen in the last few. Oil and natural gas is a very good source for the energy consumed throughout the world today. Technologies get introduced into the industry every few years and the production increases substantially. Whenever talk about rapidly decreasing production becomes a topic of interest, production methods enhancing production pop out of no where just like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have done so in the aspect of tight gas and shale production. It seems that when times get hard in energy outlook, a breakthrough is made in the industry and the future production of oil and gas is extended 100 years or so. I'm going to work in the oil and gas industry for a service company, so I will keep my hopes up that this trend continues for many years. Anyways, thank you for reading my blog if you have been following. This will probably be my last post ever, and this blog probably won't exist longer than one more week unless I forget to delete it. Thanks again. DONE!
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The number one objective on every drilling company's, as well as other oil and gas operators, list is safety. There are many issues during operations that can be harmful to personnel on location. Substantially high reservoir pressures are regularly present during drilling operations which is the origin of blowout accidents. Aside from that, thousand and thousands of pounds of steal are present in the field and is evident that it causes a risky environment to work in if precautions aren't taken. The public often times, as I have mentioned before, doesn't hesitate to criticize oil companies as well as drilling service companies. There are several regular statements that drilling operations are far too unsafe to continue executing them. One comment from a lady being interviewed about the BP oil spill stated that the technology for deep sea drilling is simply not here today. There are several hurricanes which have swept through several offshore platforms and drill ships and completely destroyed the multi-million dollar structures. The technology in the blow out preventors however, have done exactly what they were designed to do, prevent a blowout. These large pieces of equipment are always shut in and the platform is evacuated when a threatening storm is approaching. Safety meeting, offshore and onshore, are conducted every single day of operations to ensure all personnel on location is fully aware of what to do in case of several different harmful situations. Due to the emphasis of safety in the industry, accidents and spills have been mitigated several times. There are several instances of destroyed drilling structures as I mentioned above, but the amount of oil spills related to those is extremely low. As for nuclear energy, the experience of Fukushima sums it up. When a hurricane or other forceful storms decide to crash into the shore destroying everything in their path, there isn't much that can be done to prevent a reactor from exploding when it is being tossed around so violently that I know of. Safety will always be number one in the industry, and I believe that will open doors in the future for extraction of much needed energy sources.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Fracture optimization can lead to a huge turn around in the production of oil and gas. This is especially true in these unconventional reserves which are beginning to be produced today. There are many tight gas sand and shales which depend upon fracturing to flip them from being uneconomical to economical. One large step in the optimization of fracture placement and well spacing is the use of microseismic evaluation. There are a few ways to obtain microsiesmic data. The most effective method is to place receivers downhole in a monitor well but the equipment is restricted to about 330 degrees Fahrenheit. Another method is to obtain data with surface receivers but surface noise such as bypassing trucks can make data worthless. Typical fractures create hypocenters which is where the origin of the acoustic waves is located. The problem with this evaluation, is that the location of the hypocenter determined from wave velocity is that the origin of the acoustic data isn't necessarily the location where fracturing is occurring. A typical fracture will be monitored between -1 and -4 on the Richter scale. A felt earthquake can be around 3 or so on this logarithmic scale. As you can tell, the monitors are very sensitive to acoustic activity. Research today is being directed toward evaluating this obtained data in hopes of optimizing well spacing and fracture placement. As I said before, this discovery would enhance the economic potential of unconventional reservoirs for the future. Also, this could mean better management of limited resources and reservoirs and lead to a longer life of the effective energy that oil and natural gas provides to the world.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
My last post had some information on the abrupt changes which are introduced into the oil and gas industry in the blink of an eye. Hydraulic fracturing was a huge discovery several years ago which really changed the country's perspective on the whole idea of peak oil. Many uneconomical reserves became economic to produce hydrocarbons out of with the technique of hydraulic fracturing. Today, the industry faces another issue related to fracturing. Fracturing has to be executed in stages to ensure more effective penetration into the reservoir. Fracturing requires thorough study about the rocks mechanical properties (Young's Modulus and Poisons Ratio in particular). When one zone is perforated, these moduli are changed for the neighboring zone which is set to be fractured next. There is no clear answer to what number of stages is the optimum number to fracture a well with. Although wells differ greatly, some wells being drilled with similar trajectories and into the same target reservoirs are being hydraulically stimulated in completely different ways. As a guest speaker state "Everyone is doing completely different stimulation methods for similar well, but no matter who you ask, they are doing it the correct way despite the massive differences in techniques." Monitoring the paths of the induced fractures in the rock is key to the answer of optimization of hydraulic techniques. There have been several advances in this aspect and continue to progress. I don't have a guess as to how much more economical these wells can become if fracturing optimization is achieved, but I do believe it has a great possibility of altering the perspective of peak oil once again in the near future.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The research being applied to sources of clean energy seem to be increasing throughout the years. As observed with the disaster in Japan, each energy source has some flaws to it. Nuclear reactors produce fear in the public just as the instance in Fukushima. Radioactive elements released into the atmosphere is a big issue and despite the fact that statements have been made that there are minimal amounts present which are not "likely" to increase health problems, there IS still that possibility that radiation may raise chances of health problems to those individuals exposed. The oil spill was certainly a disaster and set many businesses back for a period of time. Oil exposed to the atmosphere however, has less (basically zero) human health impacts. In the case of wind farms and solar power, large amounts of turbines as well as panels are required to produce incremental amounts of energy that oil and natural gas are capable of generating. Technology in drilling seems to strike significant findings in the aspect of ways to improve economic operations in the extraction of hydrocarbons in spontaneous instances. These advancements change the whole perspective of fossil fuels, like shale and tight gas sands have done so recently. The minds of engineers and R&D staff in the oil and gas industry are always turning, and there are multiple methods to improve economic recovery out there that are waiting for that one spark to begin applying practices in industry. The spark may come tomorrow, next month, or a year from now. Natural gas is said to be cleaner burning fuel than oil, but a refining technique may arise an option to generate cleaner fuel in the future with the quick changes that the ever expanding oil industry experiences. The public seems to want to through out drilling for hydrocarbons much more easily than other sources of energy which can result in a disaster such as a nuclear one for example. Cleaner energy is more beneficial to the environment, but the fact is that the U.S. is starving for energy, and the one sure source which has been around for many years is oil.