DOE funding six more projects to improve US production methods

The US Energy Department plans to fund six university research projects with the goal of helping producers sustain oil flows.

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Sept. 21 -- The US Energy Department will fund six university research projects under its program to aid production methods.

Researchers at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM, will get $750,000 for a 3-year study on how synthetic-oil-based muds change the properties of rock cores from Arctic reservoirs. The university will contribute $360,400.

North Slope drillers use synthetic-oil-based muds, rather than water-based muds, both for environmental reasons and because of the Arctic climate. However, the muds can change the properties of cores.

The University of Houston will get nearly $600,000 for a 3-year effort to develop a reservoir simulator that would show how injecting different mixtures of hydrocarbon and other gases can boost oil recovery and possibly lead to the sequestration of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The university will add $150,000.

University researchers will investigate a "water-alternate-gas" injection method that operators could use to produce heavy oil from the North Slope's shallow sand reservoirs.

DOE also selected four projects to disseminate reservoir data and production practices under its PUMP (Preferred Upstream Management Practices) technology transfer program.

The University of Texas at Austin and state geological surveys in Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, and Utah will develop portfolios of three significant oil producing areas in the Lower 48 states: the Permian basin in Texas and New Mexico, the Illinois basin in the Midcontinent, and the oil-bearing reservoirs of Utah and surrounding areas.

The fourth project, by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, will acquire and distribute data on produced water. DOE said New Mexico producers handle more than 450 million bbl/year of produced water.

DOE will provide more than $1.3 million to the four projects. Sponsors will match that amount.

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