DOE to fund 23 oil research projects

The US Department of Energy Wednesday revealed it will fund 23 petroleum technology research projects to enhance domestic oil and production. The projects were chosen from the first round of a broad-based solicitation the DOE issued in December. The 23, and other projects to be named later, will form the core of DOE's future petroleum research program.

Washington, DC�The US Department of Energy Wednesday revealed it will fund 23 petroleum technology research projects to enhance domestic oil and production. The projects were chosen from the first round of a broad-based solicitation the DOE issued in December. The 23, and other projects to be named later, will form the core of DOE's future petroleum research program.

Diagnostics projects
Nine universities will participate in diagnostic projects:

� Virginia Polytechnic University, Blacksburg, will integrate seismic, geologic, and production data from Chevron Corp.'s Coalinga field in California to improve knowledge of how oil flows through the reservoir and enable design of more efficient recovery processes.

� The University of Oklahoma, Norman, will combine seismic images with physical, mechanical, and acoustic measurements of weak rock types that are commonly damaged during drilling operations for identification of potential hazards.

� The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, will integrate computer modeling of detailed rock and fluid information from carbonate reservoirs with well performance and seismic data, enabling identification of optimal fluid-flow paths that can increase recovery efficiency.

� The University of Kansas Center for Research Inc., Lawrence, will develop a web site offering assistance, software, and tutorial support to oil researchers and operators in constructing real-time geo-engineering reservoir models for optimizing recovery processes and lowering operating costs.

� The University of Texas, Austin, will integrate and periodically update seismic, well-log, production, and geologic data into a computer model whose simulations of oil and gas flow will optimize reservoir management.

� Reservoir Engineering Research Institute, Palo Alto, Calif., will treat reservoir rock surfaces of a gas well with polymers that will prevent precipitation of liquid films that clog rock pores.

� Electromagnetic Instruments Inc., Richmond, Calif., will apply subsurface electromagnetic sensing technology to ascertain reservoir rock makeup and describe subsurface fluid movement, enabling design of optimal carbon dioxide-water injection patterns.

� The University of Texas will study the size, clustering, and connectivity of rock fractures to determine how they control the movement of reservoir fluids during injection or extraction.

� The University of Tulsa will integrate seismic, production, and rock properties data into reservoir models that predict reservoir performance.

Reservoir efficiency
Reservoir-efficiency studies are planned at nine universities:

� Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., will combine X-ray technology with computer simulation and modeling to study heavy oil thermal production mechanisms and enable design of more efficient processes for increased production.

� Columbia University, New York, will evaluate cost-effective mixtures of surfactants that can be used under existing reservoir conditions and operations to reduce tension between oil and water in the reservoir, with minimal loss of chemicals.

� The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, will develop improvements to reservoir simulation, including affordable parallel reservoir simulation, performance monitoring, model updating, and a fractured-reservoir model. All will be available to operators via the internet.

� The University of Texas will develop a chemical flooding simulator capable of modeling oil reservoirs with at least 1 million grid blocks, advancing oil-recovery numerical investigations.

� The University of Pittsburgh will increase the viscosity of high-pressure carbon dioxide used in flooding to overcome its tendency to flow through permeable zones, bypassing oil pockets.

� New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, will identify gel compositions that reduce flow through rock fractures to reduce excess water production, to increase waterflood "sweep" efficiency.

� University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, will develop two classes of polymer: a soap-like polymer that will reduce surface tension to accelerate movement of oil through the reservoir; and a polymer whose flow can be reversed by pH or temperature to alter its capability to move or diffuse through the reservoir strata.

� The University of Texas will study the creation of foams during gas injection in oil wells, and the interactions of foam with chemicals, fluids, and rock pores to develop computer models to predict foam behavior.

� Stanford University will develop simulation tools that can map the flow of injected gases through a reservoir and make field-scale predictions of injection performance.

Drilling, environmental
Two companies, a university, a state agency, and an industry association each will undertake a project on drilling or environmental problems.

� Conoco Inc., Houston, will design, manufacture, install, and test a self-contained subsea oil and gas processing system at an offshore field in the Gulf of Mexico.

� New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, will develop two water-treatment systems that will process water produced with oil into water with reusable potential, reducing disposal costs by as much as 90%.

� GE Energy & Environmental Research Corp., Irvine, Calif., will develop sampling, analysis, and measurement technologies for determining emissions subject to new federal particulate air quality regulations.

� The Kansas Corporation Commission, Lawrence, will demonstrate the use of selected plants to remove, transfer, or stabilize oil field contaminants at oil and gas sites that have been damaged by the release of produced saltwater or water-oil emulsion.

� The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, Denver, will provide oil and gas operators with handbooks for compliance with federal and state environmental, health, and safety regulations in Arizona, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah.

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