First Break February begins with EAGE News, Industry News and Crosstalk, which speaks about the shale gas business. There are two Technical Articles, one on emerging paradigms in hydrocarbon exploration and one on distributed acoustic sensing.This month's special topic is on Unconventionals & Carbon Capture and Storage.
How can the broad experience of geoscientists help the world to meet its future energy needs? The answer lies in the theme of the 76th EAGE Conference and Exhibition in June: ‘Experiencing the Energy’ – how the multi-disciplinary approach to oil and gas exploration and production fostered by EAGE can contribute to meeting future energy needs. Fossil fuels are set to continue to have a major role to play in the global energy mix for decades to come simply by virtue of the enormous investment needed for any alternatives to scale up to meet the demand. ‘Experience’ will play an essential role in providing the solutions.
Patrick Corbett of UFRJ/Heriot-Watt University reports on a cracking South American EAGE-organized workshop on fracking.
Delighted delegates were given ‘fracture enlightenment’ at a workshop in Brazil in November. The topic of fractures may still be a relatively unfamiliar one for Brazil, but the first EAGE-SBGf workshop: ‘Fractures in Conventional and Unconventional Reservoirs’ on 5-6 November in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, led to some lively debate. More than 70 delegates attended the two-day meeting which saw presentations from leading experts from a wide range of exploration and production disciplines related to fractures. As Aline Silva (Petrobras) said: ‘You can’t have a carbonate reservoir without fractures’, so clearly the pre-salt is generating new interest in fractures in the region. Fractured unconventional reservoirs are also of increasing interest in South America.
Many fundamental industry beliefs were questioned and hypotheses presented, such as: fractures have a high angle origin – but only to bedding (Lewis, HWU); use of curvature is only OK for thinly bedded systems (Couples, HWU); fracture porosity of 1-2% is not always that low (Quenes, Sigma3); the fractal model a good one – there are length scales, layering and the mechanical stratigraphy is important (Couples, HWU; Riva GE Plan); mechanical fractures follow existing fracture patterns (Alverellos, Repsol); upscaling discrete fracture networks is very challenging (Geiger, HWU); there is no REV in fractured reservoirs – except possibly at the seismic bin scale (Quenes, Sigma3) and at the bed scale (Couples, HWU; Riva GEPlan); the basement provides seals and migration barriers – but not if fractured (Hartz, Det Norske Oljeselskap).
By Andrew McBarnet
Outside the geoscience and engineering community I have found it is best to steer clear of discussions on the development of shale oil and gas resources in general, and particularly in the context of Europe. Sticking to the likely geological, technological, economic and environmental variables is often a waste of breath. Shale has become a matter of belief: you are either for or against fracking. This is of course a gross simplification. It can be blamed partly on the sound bite world in which we live, so you have got to sympathise with oil companies on at least one score. How could they have possibly imagined that shortening ‘hydraulic fracturing’ to ‘fracking’ could end up being a dirty word and a powerful rallying cry for opponents and protestors.
Anyone who has bothered to look into the actual process at work will of course know that fracking has been around since the 1940s and is used routinely in conventional oil and gas operations worldwide. There is virtually no evidence that the fracking per se in shale operations has had any adverse effect on water from aquifers, even in the midst of the US gas boom we are witnessing. That’s because fracking takes place at depths far below any potential water supply.
Cut-throat competition in the marine acquisition sector has been demonstrated by PGS and CGG going head to head by launching multi-client surveys in the same area of the Gulf of Mexico. A source at PGS said the company was very unhappy after starting a multi-client survey in the Gulf of Mexico in November before it emerged that CGG was returning to the area to shoot another major multi-client survey in the same waters in January - thereby threatening the viability of the PGS survey.
PGS returned to the GoM for the first time in eight years at the end of 2013 and has already been shooting for several weeks in an 8100 km2 area in the Garden Banks and Keathley Canyon areas in a project to image sub-salt formations (see First Break December). However, one CGG seismic vessel is already understood to be operating in the area and three more were expected to join it.
French oil company Total is investing nearly $50 million in shale exploration in Britain – including a 3D seismic acquisition programme – in a major boost for the UK Government’s drive to kick-start the exploration of shale in unconventional fields. Total is taking a 40% stake in licences PEDL 139 and 140 in Lincolnshire, East Midlands, in a 240 km2 area known as the Gainsborough Trough geological basin, which contains the much-vaunted Bowland Shale play. Existing partners in the licence: Dart Energy, IGas, Egdon Resources and eCorp will transfer part of their stakes to Total. Total will own 40%, Dart Energy 17.5%, IGas Energy 14.5%, Egdon Resources 14.5% and eCORP 13.5%. IGas Limited will act as operator and Total will operate the licences upon completion of the programme.
Dart Energy said that Total would pay $1.6 million in back costs and invest up to $46.5 million in the development and drilling programme. The investment will include the acquisition of 3D seismic; the drilling and testing of a vertical shale well and associated well pad construction; and, conditional on the success of the testing of the exploration well, the drilling and testing of a horizontal appraisal well. Total has the right to exit at a midway point (after spending $19.5 million) but would forfeit all interest in the licences.
Abbasi, M. - Dana Geophysics Company - Iran
Abdel Alim, S. - Heriot-Watt University Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Abdeltawab, A. - Diyar United Company - Kuwait
Abdul Karim, H. - ADMA-OPCO - United Arab Emirates
Aboujmeih, F. - ADMA-OPCO - United Arab Emirates
Abubaker Al-Harbi, A. - ADMA-OPCO - United Arab Emirates
Abunumah, O. - Coventry University - United Kingdom
Adamo, A. - ARESYS - Italy
Adams, A.L. - Massachusetts Institute of Technology - United States
Adams, G. - International Association of Geophys. Contractors - United States
Adeli Sarcheshmeh, A. - Dana Geophysics Company - Iran
Adriaens, R. - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - Belgium