Technology Focus: Gas Production Technology (November 2014)
- Scott J. Wilson (Ryder Scott Company)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 124 - 124
- 2014. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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As this editorial goes to press, a constructive debate is happening over the unconventional-resource renaissance in Colorado. Each side held firmly to their respective corners until a compromise was brokered by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who also is a geologist and beer brewer. This deal moved the conversation from an emotionally charged political venue and put it in a more-objective, multifaceted stakeholder commission.
Colorado has a bountiful resource base. Unconventional resources are more common than conventional; thousands of fracture jobs lead to refracturing; and the oil-and-gas-industry gross domestic product rivals that of construction or the food and lodging industries. A total of 70 drilling rigs are running in Colorado, while all of Europe has only 150. Natural gas occurs in many shallow aquifers, providing yet another energy resource option. (Read paper SPE 163965 to see how innovative Japanese engineers produce aquifer-dissolved gas.)
But Colorado is not a conservative utopia; we have legal marijuana, cities that invite lawsuits by banning oil and gas development, and a powerful environmental industry employing fundraisers who impede Denver pedestrian traffic just as trucks delivering proppant slow traffic on lease roads in the giant Wattenberg field north of town. With this patchwork of people and perspectives, one would expect to see chaos. So far, the situation is closer to a “peaceable kingdom,” where development moves forward with legitimate concerns addressed.
In contrast, the incredibly tight rocks that are the source of North America’s gas renaissance are off limits in Germany and France. Even though Maersk drilled the first multifractured horizontal well in the world in the North Sea back in 1987, some European countries are now banning operations that have occurred legally for many decades. Why the recent reversal? Why remove a significant piece of a shrinking list of viable energy options?
A notable difference between the constructive discussions in Colorado and the outright bans is the representation of all stakeholders. Where bans are implemented, well-funded environmental groups and a fearful and naive segment of the public make more noise than resource developers and mineral owners. Developers quietly move capital to greener pastures. In most countries, governments own the minerals. They behave predictably by minimizing conflicts with development opponents while sacrificing economic, energy-security, and CO2-reduction goals that would spread thinly over the large, but largely silent, population.
Because extremists will not be satisfied until all fossil-fuel production stops, the debate will continue as long as people choose to use oil and gas. At least one community has shown that compromise and rational discussion can prevail over hyperbole and paranoia—at least for now. JPT
Recommended additional reading at OnePetro: www.onepetro.org.
SPE 163965 Development of Water-Dissolved Gas in Nishikambara Gas Field and Calculation of Land Subsidence Induced by Water Pumping by T. Higuma, Kyushu University, et al.
SPE 164475 Natural-Gas Reciprocating-Compressor Optimization by Jean Mino, Detechtion Technologies
SPE 166368 Design, Installation, and Initial Performance of Ultrahigh-Rate Gas Deepwater Completions—Tamar Field, Offshore Israel by John Healy, Noble Energy, et al.
OTC 25374 Guest-Molecule-Exchange Kinetics for the 2012 Ignik Sikumi Gas- Hydrate Field Trial by Mark White, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, et al.
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