DOE-backed software system assists Fayetteville Shale exploration

A US Department of Energy-sponsored project has led to development of an infrastructure placement analysis system (IPAS) to help producers recover natural gas more effectively from shale formations in environmentally sensitive areas.

DOE’s Fossil Fuels Office said on Aug. 5 that the University of Arkansas and DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory joined the project, managed by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, to develop the software planning tool, which is available online.

It said that researchers believe the 50-mile wide Fayetteville Shale play, underlying numerous central and eastern Arkansas counties with more than 2 million acres leased, could become one of the nation’s most active shale gas production areas.

The risk management tool lets operators more effectively evaluate alternative sites, identify sensitive areas, and minimize environmental impacts, according to DOE. It said that the IPAS software accomplishes this by providing a map of the intersection of drilling pads, roads, gathering lines and other proposed features with sensitive water locations, existing transmission lines, soil data and other features.

Operators who use the software can streamline the well placement and infrastructure development permitting processes, DOE said.

It said that researchers estimate that the software can reduce the time required to locate infrastructure elements by a day or more for at least 10% of well sites. Estimated cost savings could approach $2.25 million/year with a drilling rig day rate of up to $45,000 on 500 wells per year, it indicated.

The IPAS website can be found online at http://lingo.cast.uark.edu/IPAS/.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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