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ExxonMobil's Piceance Field Gas Processor Ramps Up

New natural gas field processing capacity is up and running in Colorado's Piceance Basin to accommodate growing production by ExxonMobil Production Co., the producer said last week.

ExxonMobil launched its 300,000-acre Piceance Basin project development in September 2007. Eventually the company expects to produce up to 1 Bcf/d from the basin, well ahead of the 55 MMcf/d it was producing there two years ago (see NGI, March 9). The producer has been drilling for gas in the Piceance Basin for almost 50 years; its output currently is around 100 MMcf/d.

Phase one of the Piceance Project, located in Rio Blanco County on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, has the capacity to handle up to 200 MMcf/d of gas. As part of its Meeker gas processing complex in the basin, Enterprise Products Partners LP constructed new plant and pipeline facilities for ExxonMobil to provide compression, treating and conditioning services for the produced gas, which is delivered to various pipeline transmission systems that serve the region (see NGI, March 16).

"A project such as Piceance represents a long-term view of and commitment to energy development," said Rich Kruger, president of ExxonMobil Production Co. "The key to unlocking the potential of this large, technically challenging resource is increasing production and recovery rates from each well at lower cost. ExxonMobil scientists and engineers are working hard to improve the enabling technologies and processes to do just that."

Seven drilling rigs now are in operation to increase the gas output there, the Irving, TX-based producer said. The Piceance Basin leasehold has an estimated potential recoverable resource of 45 Tcf, the company said, and to recover the tight gas resources the company uses proprietary technology and best practices.

"Piceance wells completed with our proprietary fracturing technology produce significantly more than conventionally fractured wells and at less cost," said Piceance Project Executive Jim Branch. Using its technology gives the company access to up to 50 gas-bearing zones in one well, which Branch said was "unheard of" a few years ago.

"We can drill up to nine to 10 wells from a single pad with less surface disturbance," Branch said. "Each well can recover gas located across 20 acres below ground. The cost-effective process produces substantially more gas from the many zones it can tap from each well."

And because water conservation is a priority at the project, ExxonMobil developed a system to reuse the water recovered from production for other processes. The system has reduced fresh water use by about 80%, the company noted.

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