Five Gas Research Projects Get DOE Funding
Five natural gas projects valued at more than $7 million will
get partial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, which will
spend $4.7 million to fund innovations in the industry. The
projects include a 3D seismic imaging study on deep water hydrates
in the Gulf of Mexico and another on tools that will drill in
The University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology
plans to spend two years studying the use of multi-component, 3D
seismic imaging on hydrates in the Gulf of Mexico. The study will
focus on how hydrates and rock types are distributed through
sediments and how the sediments are bound together, which could
enhance safety in producing hydrate gas in deepwater projects. DOE
will pay $700,000 of the $880,000 project cost.
Another project, headed up by NANA Development Corp. of
Anchorage, AK, will design tools, techniques and algorithms to
drill slim-hole wells under arctic conditions. The idea is to
develop a concept design for a mobile rig that eventually could
drill gas wells to fuel remote Alaskan villages. This two-year
project, which will cost $1.06 million, will receive $440,000 from
A salt cavern storage project, field tested by Respec Co. of
Rapid City, SD, will work on technology to improve the volume of
gas that may be extracted efficiently and economically. The company
already has adapted a mathematical model to dispose of nuclear
waste in salt domes, and now will use this to determine the minimum
pressure for storage caverns. The model will be tested at two Bay
Gas Storage Co. caverns near Mobile, AL.
"Even modest improvements in storage capacity efficiencies could
increase the amount of working gas capacity in existing salt
caverns," said DOE in a statement.
Respec Co. estimates that if the technique works, it could
provide as much as 13 Bcf of additional working gas capacity from
salt dome sites. Respec said there are 29 U.S. salt dome sites with
about 125 Bcf of capacity. This project is expected to last 22
months, and DOE will pay $277,000 of the total $374,000 total cost.
Pennsylvania State and the University of Tulsa plan to design an
industry-driven stripper gas well consortium to identify and fund
research for reservoir remediation, wellbore cleanup and surface
system upgrades. DOE will provide $3 million for this project, and
the universities will kick in $1.3 million over three years.
The fifth project, also undertaken by Penn State, will have
university researchers and Dennis Tool Co. of Houston developing a
microwave sintering process to enhance the durability of
composition-grade drill bit materials formed from diamond
composites, tungsten carbide and other metals. DOE estimates the
process would take one-tenth the time of conventional bonding
methods, and thus produce bits that would wear longer and perform
up to 30% better than conventional parts.
DOE will pay about half, or $323,000, of the $646,000 two-year
Carolyn Davis, Houston