AOI 1: Improving Ultimate Recovery from Unconventional Oil and Gas Resources

Subtopic 1A: Early-Stage Research on Recovery Improvement Technologies – Technology Readiness Level 2-4

1. All-Digital Sensor System for Distributed Downhole Pressure Monitoring in Unconventional Fields Clemson University (Clemson, SC) will develop and validate a new low-cost, all-digital pressure sensing technology for in-situ distributed downhole pressure monitoring in unconventional oil and natural gas reservoirs. Copious data resulting from tool deployment will enhance the understanding of reservoir behavior; enable optimized stimulation and production; improve recovery efficiency; and expand the development of emerging unconventional oil and natural gas resource plays. Once installed, the system will fill critical data gaps to inform decision making and improve the ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas. 

DOE Funding: $1,500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $375,000; Total Value: $1,875,000

2. Dynamic Binary Complexes as Super-Adjustable Viscosity Modifiers for Hydraulic Fracturing FluidsTexas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (College Station, TX) will enhance the productivity in shale reservoirs by developing novel viscosifiers called “dynamic binary complex,” or DBCs, with improved viscosities for use in hydraulic fracturing fluids. The project will also investigate properties of DBC-based fracturing fluids and interactions of DBCs with commonly used proppant. The work will contribute to the development of improved viscosifiers that can be used under elevated temperatures, pressures, and salinity to improve oil and natural gas recovery from unconventional reservoirs.

DOE Funding: $1,470,566; Non-DOE Funding: $369,742; Total Value: $1,840,308

3. Demonstration of Proof of Concept of a Multi-Physics Approach for Near-Real-Time Remote Monitoring of Dynamic Changes in Pressure and Salinity in Hydraulically Fractured NetworksThe University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX) will demonstrate remote monitoring of geochemistry and pore pressure, advance the development of electromagnetic imaging tools, and develop a multi-physics joint inversion package for precise prediction of changes in flow patterns and physiochemical changes. This technology will lead to an enhanced understanding of proppant-filled fracture networks, formation stress state, fluid leak-off and invasion, and characterization of engineered systems in real time, ultimately leading to increased recovery of unconventional oil & natural gas resources. 

DOE Funding: $1,499,989; Non-DOE Funding: $376,662; Total Value: $1,876,651

4. Fully Distributed Acoustic and Magnetic Field Monitoring via a Single Fiber Line for Optimized Production of Unconventional Resource PlaysVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA) will develop distributed seismic and electromagnetic sensing technology to enable real-time facture diagnostics, and optimized stimulation and production. The novel system will provide measurements with contrast, spatial resolution and functionality not yet realized by other techniques. Once integrated, the technology will represent a step change in subsurface sensing and imaging capabilities that are needed to improve ultimate oil & natural gas recovery from unconventional reservoirs. 

DOE Funding: $1,499,999; Non-DOE Funding: $375,000; Total Value: $1,874,999

5. Large-Volume Stimulation of Rock for Greatly Enhanced Fluids Recovery Using Targeted Seismic-Assisted Hydraulic FracturingOklahoma State University Stillwater (Stillwater, OK) will develop a new technology for large-volume and targeted comminution of rock in low permeability formations to enhance oil & natural gas recovery from unconventional resources. Comminution is the action of reducing the particles of a material into a smaller size. Bulk comminution is expected to cause a significant increase in permeability, leading to enhanced recovery factors for subsurface fluids, including oil and natural gas. The project combines an integrated experimental and computational approach to develop and demonstrate a modular technology that can be easily implemented in the field to augment current practices.

DOE Funding: $1,500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $375,000; Total Value: $1,875,000


Subtopic 1B: Later-Stage Research on Recovery Improvement Technologies – Technology Readiness Level 4-5

6. Using Natural Gas Liquids to Recover Unconventional Oil and Gas ResourcesBattelle Memorial Institute (Columbus, OH) will develop a method for using unrefined natural gas liquids (NGLs) as fracturing fluid. Using NGLs could increase production from unconventional oil and natural gas reservoirs. This project will provide near-term value for accelerating production in many unconventional reservoirs and provide operators with a roadmap to expand production from unconventional plays.

DOE Funding: $2,447,725; Non-DOE Funding: $711,734; Total Value: $3,159,459

7. Enabling Cost-Effective High-Quality Seismic Monitoring of Unconventional Reservoirs with Fiber OpticsMagiQ Technologies Inc. (Somerville, MA) will produce and field test a cost-effective optical seismic sensor system. The project seeks to demonstrate full operation of the system in an environment where conventional sensors are difficult and expensive to deploy due to high temperatures, great depths, and complicated drilling, completion, and stimulation programs. By encouraging high-quality monitoring and analysis before, during, and after resource production, the technology will improve the return on investment in unconventional wells by allowing more efficient unconventional oil and natural gas extraction. The system could also reduce costs of unconventional production that are inflated by unproductive wells and sub-optimal well treatments.

 DOE Funding: $2,500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $625,000; Total Value: $3,125,000

8. A Novel “Smart Microchip Proppants” Technology for Precision Diagnostics of Hydraulic Fracture Networks University of Kansas Center for Research Inc. (Lawrence, KS) will develop a sensor technology for improved subsurface characterization, visualization, and diagnostics of unconventional reservoirs. The technology, which offers precision diagnostics of hydraulic fractures with a novel high-resolution imaging technology based on smart microchip proppants, addresses critical gaps in understanding of unconventional shale reservoir behavior and optimal well completion strategies to enable more cost-effective unconventional resource recovery.

DOE Funding: $2,500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $1,000,000; Total Value: $3,500,000


AOI 2: Improving Our Understanding of Emerging Unconventional Plays

9. Field Evaluation of the Caney Shale as an Emerging Unconventional Play, Southern OklahomaOklahoma State University Stillwater (Stillwater, OK) will establish a field laboratory focused on the Caney Shale in southern Oklahoma to conduct a comprehensive field characterization. Using this field laboratory, the project will experiment and validate cost-effective technologies that will lead to a comprehensive development strategy plan for the Caney Shale. The project will determine if more ductile shales like the Caney Shale can be produced economically.

DOE Funding: $7,790,979; Non-DOE Funding: $3,581,800; Total Value: $11,372,779

10. Conasauga Shale Research Consortium (CSRC)University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY) will accelerate the development of the Conasauga group, located in Kentucky and West Virginia, as unconventional oil and natural gas plays. The project will gather the additional data necessary and test different well-completion designs in both theoretical models and in a field application at a horizontal well drilled in Lawrence County, KY. The Conasauga Shale Research Consortium website and data portal will provide all existing public data on the Conasauga Shale, expediting the initial stages of work for future exploration teams. In addition, the petroleum engineering review of past results and data analytics will help direct future operations toward successful techniques for developing the play

DOE Funding: $6,064,085; Non-DOE Funding: $1,706,988; Total Value: $7,771,073

11. Improving Oil Production in the Emerging Paradox PlayUniversity of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT) will characterize the regional geology, stress regime, fracture networks, and optimal stimulation practices to enable full production of the Paradox unconventional oil play, which has the potential to be an important economic resource to enhance the Nation’s energy independence. The project will collect data from three major operators within the basin, including advanced datasets and wells for sampling, analysis, and testing. The team will create discrete fracture network and geomechanical models, which will be used to predict the occurrence of natural fractures and faults, as well as forecast the effectiveness of novel stimulation approaches.

DOE Funding: $7,999,865; Non-DOE Funding: $2,000,000; Total Value: $9,999,865

12. Unlocking the low permeability Oil Reservoirs of the Powder River Basin, Wyoming University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY) will establish a low permeability oil field laboratory in the Powder River Basin that will be used to characterize and overcome the technical challenges of developing two major emerging unconventional/shale oil formations, the Mowry Shale and the Belle Fourche Shale Member, as well as the challenging Frontier “tight” sandstone. The ultimate goal of this work is to accelerate the development of three major oil-bearing unconventional resources through detailed geologic characterization and improved geologic models, leading to significant advances in well completion and fracture stimulation designs specific to these formations.

DOE Funding: $7,877,154; Non-DOE Funding: $13,075,251; Total Value: $20,952,405