Changes Bring Opportunities

Since the time of my last EXPLORER column in December, the petroleum industry has experienced many changes:

  • The moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf Coast of Mexico was lifted in October 2010.
  • The former Minerals Management Services (MMS) became the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE).
  • The revenue collection arm of the former MMS became the Office of Natural Resources.
  • In January the federal government divided the BOEMRE into two bureaus – the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which will be in charge of the development of offshore energy and resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way; and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which will enforce safety and environmental regulations.

All these extra acronyms aside, what do these various changes really mean for us?

There’s a saying that “amongst chaos is opportunity,” so let us take advantage.

First and foremost, these regulatory changes provide an opportunity for AAPG and its Divisions to work with the Geoscience and Energy Office in Washington, D.C., and the new bureaus of the BOEMRE. AAPG members have the expertise to assist in the development of the new regulations, thereby creating a positive impact on our industry.

Secondly, this is an opportunity for us to provide technical experience regarding potential environmental impacts and mitigation efforts should the need arise.

Lastly, AAPG can assist the BOEMRE in responsible development of the Outer Continental Shelf.

If I know our GEO-DC director David Curtiss, he is already working on these issues (see related story). I plan on visiting with David during my next trip to D.C. to see how DEG can get involved and assist with his efforts.

This is a time to become actively engaged and help David as he works with various agencies and politicos in our nation’s capital. Decisions made here will have a global impact.

Moving on, let’s talk about the Environmental Geosciences Journal.

The Winter 2010 edition featured papers on the use of shallow geophysical methods in environmental applications, and the upcoming Spring 2011 edition will feature manuscripts on ongoing geologic carbon dioxide research.

Work on our upcoming special issue regarding the Marcellus shale gas play in the Appalachian Basin, which is being co-sponsored by DEG and EMD, is under way, and the call for papers can be found on the AAPG/DEG linked-in website.

In the meantime, if you want to read a good primer on the Marcellus shale play in Pennsylvania, check out the online report by AAPG members John Harper and Jaime Kostelnik, both of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey.

They provide:

  • An overview of the geology of the Marcellus shale.
  • An historical overview of shale gas drilling from the 1820s to the present.
  • Drilling and completion methods, including fracing techniques and materials.
  • Well production and economics.
  • Water resources.
  • Environmental challenges.
  • Other interesting information about this popular reservoir.

In other news, AAPG DEG will be represented at the SEGSA annual meeting, to be held in Wilmington, N.C., March 23–25. DEG is sponsoring a session to honor the career of Paul Thayer, who has been an AAPG member since 1967. I am co-chairing the session with Harry Roberts of Louisiana State University, another long-time AAPG member.

Recent actions taken by the DEG Executive Committee include the reduction of DEG annual dues from $45 to $25, which was made possible in large part by our decision to “go green” and publish the Journal digitally beginning later this year.

As I end this column, I will once again ask you to think about your impact on our earth. If we all make small changes in our daily lives, we can and will make a positive difference in our world.

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Division Column-DEG Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith is a DEG member and is with the Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver.

Division Column-DEG Mary K. Harris

Mary K. Harris, President, Division of Environmental Geosciences

Division Column-DEG Tom J. Temples

Tom J. Temples is DEG President.

Division Column-DEG Doug Wyatt

Doug Wyatt, of Aiken, S.C., is director of science research for the URS Corporation Research and Engineering Services contract to the USDOE National Energy Technology Laboratory. He also is a member of the DEG Advisory Board for the AAPG Eastern Section.

Division Column DEG

The Division of Environmental Geosciences (DEG), a division of AAPG, is concerned with increasing awareness of the environment and the petroleum industry and providing AAPG with a scientific voice in the public arena. Among its objectives are educating members about important environmental issues, supporting and encouraging research on the effects of exploration and production on the environment, and communicating scientific information to concerned governmental agencies.

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See Also: Bulletin Article

This article reviews the mechanisms of shale gas storage and discusses the major risks or uncertainties for shale gas exploration in China. At a given temperature and pressure, the gas sorption capacities of organic-rich shales are primarily controlled by the organic matter richness but may be significantly influenced by the type and maturity of the organic matter, mineral composition (especially clay content), moisture content, pore volume and structure, resulting in different ratios of gas sorption capacity (GSC) to total organic carbon content for different shales. In laboratory experiments, the GSC of organic-rich shales increases with increasing pressure and decreases with increasing temperature. Under geologic conditions (assuming hydrostatic pressure gradient and constant thermal gradient), the GSC increases initially with depth due to the predominating effect of pressure, passes through a maximum, and then decreases because of the influence of increasing temperature at greater depth. This pattern of variation is quite similar to that observed for coals and is of great significance for understanding the changes in GSC of organic-rich shales over geologic time as a function of burial history. At an elevated temperature and pressure and with the presence of moisture, the gas sorption capacities of organic-rich shales are quite low. As a result, adsorption alone cannot protect sufficient gas for high-maturity organic-rich shales to be commercial gas reservoirs. Two models are proposed to predict the variation of GSC and total gas content over geologic time as a function of burial history. High contents of free gas in organic-rich shales can be preserved in relatively closed systems. Loss of free gas during postgeneration uplift and erosion may result in undersaturation (the total gas contents lower than the sorption capacity) and is the major risk for gas exploration in marine organic-rich shales in China.
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West Edmond field, located in central Oklahoma, is one of the largest oil accumulations in the Silurian–Devonian Hunton Group in this part of the Anadarko Basin. Production from all stratigraphic units in the field exceeds 170 million barrels of oil (MMBO) and 400 billion cubic feet of gas (BCFG), of which approximately 60 MMBO and 100 BCFG have been produced from the Hunton Group. Oil and gas are stratigraphically trapped to the east against the Nemaha uplift, to the north by a regional wedge-out of Hunton strata, and by intraformational diagenetic traps. Hunton Group reservoirs are the Bois d'Arc and Frisco Limestones, with lesser production from the Chimneyhill subgroup, Haragan Shale, and Henryhouse Formation.

Hunton Group cores from three wells that were examined petrographically indicate that complex diagenetic relations influence permeability and reservoir quality. Greatest porosity and permeability are associated with secondary dissolution in packstones and grainstones, forming hydrocarbon reservoirs. The overlying Devonian–Mississippian Woodford Shale is the major petroleum source rock for the Hunton Group in the field, based on one-dimensional and four-dimensional petroleum system models that were calibrated to well temperature and Woodford Shale vitrinite reflectance data. The source rock is marginally mature to mature for oil generation in the area of the West Edmond field, and migration of Woodford oil and gas from deeper parts of the basin also contributed to hydrocarbon accumulation.

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See Also: CD DVD

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See Also: DL Abstract

Information on fractured reservoirs is often controversial. Engineers see lost circulation, negative skin and fracture well test signatures. Geologists see only matrix properties in their cores.

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See Also: Learn! Blog

Listen to Dr. Ronald Nelson as he shares his knowledge and insights on a practical approach to defining reservoir fluid and pressure related natural fracture generation and fracture property alteration in conventional and unconventional reservoirs.

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