Laramie, WY-based services company WellDog has launched its Shale SweetSpotter technology, which detects, identifies and quantifies hydrocarbons in shale oil and natural gas wells.
The commercial launch comes after successful trials with its industry partner, Royal Dutch Shell plc, in the Marcellus Shale over the last two years. The downhole service uses lasers and "sophisticated" detectors to identify the locations where hydrocarbons occur in vertical pilot and appraisal wells, the company said, helping producers focus on development and save more money.
"With oil prices fluctuating near breakeven, operators are searching for methods to reduce finding costs and increase output," said CEO John Pope. "This service, when properly deployed, will increase estimated ultimate recovery as well as reduce exploration costs, which has a double impact on a producer's return on investment."
Pope formed WellDog in 1999. The service uses the company's Reservoir Raman System, which was originally developed to find coalbed methane sweet spots in the Powder River Basin. The technology is named after C.V. Raman, the India-born physicist who won the 1930 Nobel Prize in physics for his work in light scattering.
WellDog's spectrometer tool shines a laser at a molecule and detects the color change in the photon that bounces off of it. By observing the color change that occurs during the process, a molecule's characteristics are revealed, telling the operator what it is. The number of photons that change in color shows how many of those molecules are there, Pope explained to NGI's Shale Daily in an interview in 2014, when the company began developing new shale-based applications for the technology (see Shale Daily, Oct. 7, 2014).
He said at the time that while other companies have tried to apply the Raman technology to oil and gas, it hasn't been commercially successful. The Raman System, WellDog said, makes the service more "accurate, reliable, affordable and quick to deploy." It was developed with the goal of doubling the number of producing fractures in a shale well.
"This development really changes the way operators can approach their new field development and refracturing decisions," COO James Walker said. "This new service provides a high level of assurance that our customers are going to land their laterals in high quality pay zones."
WellDog has also done work in the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford and Bakken shales and in the Niobrara formation. Internationally, the company has been active in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China and Mozambique.