The Future of Natural Gas Production Technology
- R.V. Smith (Phillips Petroleum Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1971
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 45 - 49
- 1971. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 2 Well Completion, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.3.1 Hydrates, 5.6.9 Production Forecasting, 4.6 Natural Gas, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 5.3.1 Flow in Porous Media
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The greatest concerns of the natural gas man twenty years hence will center in the superdeep well and in the low-permeability reservoir; and some of the most spectacular advances will be made in the gathering and interpretation of well-test information. Concepts that are now almost wholly theoretical will be applied to practical producing problems.
The technology for the production of natural gas during the next 20 years will follow three somewhat different courses of development. One will be a straightforward continuation of present technology, which will be applied to the reservoirs of high productivity that for the most part are being and will productivity that for the most part are being and will continue to be discovered outside the continental U.S. Under the second course, a diligent effort will be made to recover from presently producing reservoirs more gas than present technology and price structure will permit. The third course will involve what is perhaps permit. The third course will involve what is perhaps the most interesting advancements in technology, and will entail efforts to recover gas economically from the superdeep formations (more than 20,000 ft) and from the reservoirs with extremely low permeability and resulting low productivity.
It is my opinion that the significant advances will come from efforts to produce the low-permeability reservoirs, and that the future of natural gas production in the contiguous U. S. will be in those areas production in the contiguous U. S. will be in those areas such as the deeper formations of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, the low-permeability formations of New Pennsylvania, the low-permeability formations of New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, and the superdeep basins. New technology developed in efforts to produce natural gas from these marginal areas will spread produce natural gas from these marginal areas will spread to the older fields in the last stages of production and to the "flush" new gas fields being discovered in Alaska and other areas.
I am convinced that the future of this gas production depends upon our being able to produce it at a profit from the superdeep basins and the low-permeability reservoirs. The various regulatory bodies must realize that the rules covering sales prices, well spacing and other aspects of the business of producing natural gas must allow sufficient profit motive for the new technology to develop. The researcher and engineer, then, must meet the challenge of developing that technology.
In predicting the future we always hope for the tremendous breakthrough, or the surge of improvements brought about by a breakthrough. Such developments rarely can be foreseen but they do happen. Consider in retrospect what solid-state electronic circuits did for electronics by removing the limitations of the vacuum tube. As an example in our own sphere, we need remote sensing of a hydrocarbon reservoir.
The economics of gas production in the superdeep basins and the low-permeability areas will require a more versatile type of technologist than today's specialist. The successful gas production engineer of 20 years hence will have a very clear idea of the type of help other technological fields have to offer. The economics of his situation will demand that responses to his requests for help drive to the heart of his problems in a timely fashion. For this reason research and computing groups will be asked to apply their skills to the solutions of specific problems.
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