The Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy is touting the development of six new technologies that it says will extend the production life of 650,000 stripper wells in the United States that deliver 15% of the nation's domestic oil and 8% of its natural gas production.
The technologies, which have been commercialized or are near commercialization, are designed to increase production, raise efficiencies or lower costs. They were developed by the Stripper Well Consortium, an industry-directed group co-funded by DOE.
The U.S. has 393,000 oil stripper wells and 260,000 natural gas stripper wells, which are wells that produce less than 10 b/d of oil or 60 Mcf/d of natural gas. These wells are typically operated by small, independent companies in fields that are long past their peaks. But without the stripper wells' aggregate production, the U.S. would have to import an additional 860,000 b/d of oil a day, and 1.5 Tcf/year of natural gas.
Life extension technologies reduce plugging and abandonment rates and sustain stripper wells. In 2002 alone, DOE said, more than 3,800 gas wells and 14,000 oil wells were abandoned, even though most were still producing. Once stripper wells are plugged and abandoned, the costs to reaccess the reserves are prohibitive, and the energy resources may be lost forever.
The six new deployment-ready applications developed by the Stripper Well Consortium include the following:
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