Nuts and Bolts of Unconventional Oil and Gas Development
including all you might like to know about the technology and practice of hydraulic fracturing
Wayne D Pennington, Interim Dean, College of Engineering, Michigan Technological University
Mon Mar 24, 2014 3pm – 4pm, Dow 642
Over the past couple of decades, technology has been developed to produce oil and gas from geological formations that had been overlooked previously due to the lack of appropriate engineering techniques for those types of formations. As a result, the energy picture for the USA and for the world has been seriously modified, and the impact is being felt.
These “unconventional” deposits contain hydrocarbons in significant quantities, but they were locked up in microscopic pores that were at best poorly connected to each other, limiting or preventing flow through the rocks. Existing technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing (in use since 1948) and extended-reach horizontal wellbores were used independently, and then merged, for a highly successful, efficient, and safe method of oil and gas production.
The geologic formations, and the production techniques used in each, that are described in this presentation include: (a) “tight” gas sandstone deposits (produced through multiple-stage hydraulic fracturing in vertical wells); (b) coal deposits (methane produced by drawing down water pressure to release gas from the coal structure; also the source of many “flaming faucets” from domestic water-wells); and (c) shale deposits (generally using multiple-stage hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells).