Chaff Launch

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Oil and Gas Exploration

Wonder where tomorrow's energy may come from? Hart Energy Publishing's E&P Net publishes news for "exploration and production professionals" (oil and gas talk for the people who go hunting for oil and gas - the last of the explorers?). If you click on the Activity highlights maps you can take a look at where money is being spent. For example:
ChevronTexaco has pencilled in the development of a major deepwater gas field off northwest Australia as part of an ongoing US $10-billion Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project. The US major has revealed it is preparing to enter the front end engineering and design (FEED) stage for the Greater Gorgon Project, which will involve supplying gas not only from the Gorgon field but also the ultra-deepwater Jansz discovery. Jansz will be particularly challenging because of its water depth and projected tie-back distance. It is too early for the operator to have a favorite development option for the field, with the FEED likely to cover various floating production and all-subsea options. ChevTex says a total of 40 Tcf of discovered gas is contained in 12 fields in the Greater Gorgon project. It holds a 57% stake in Gorgon in permit WA-267-P, and a 50% share in Jansz, the latter of which is operated by ExxonMobil with the remaining 50%. ExxonMobil holds 25% of Gorgon also.ChevronTexaco confirmed a foundation project involving a 10 million tonnes per year LNG plant on Barrow Island, with upstream gas flowing initially from the two largest fields, Gorgon and Jansz. The projected start-up is estimated for 2009-2010. Jansz lies in permit WA-18-R in the deepwater Carnarvon Basin, with the Jansz-3 well last year successfully appraising the 2000 discovery after being drilled in water depths of 4,355 ft (1,327 m). When tested, it flowed at a maximum rate of more than 72 MMcf/d of gas, and is estimated to have a 1,300 ft (396 m) gross gas column. A 3-D seismic shoot was also carried out earlier this year, with Jansz now thought to hold around 20 Tcf of recoverable gas reserves. Gorgon holds around 13 Tcf. Other undeveloped gas discoveries in WA-267-P include Geryon-1, Orthrus-1, Urania-1 and Maenad-1.
Lots of deepwater drilling with discoveries of trillions of cubic feet of gas and feeding into the world's LNG pipeline.

Cool.

Update: Here's another highlight you might have missed which could help ease the pressure on prices the demand created by China's growing economy is having:
Shell will set up a joint venture with authorities in Jilin Province in northeastern China to study the development of area oil shale reserves. If they can reach a commercial arrangement and produce the shale oil economically enough, it could be used for both transportation fuel and electricity generation. Jilin holds up to 124 billion bbl of shale oil, more than half of China’s supply. China has the world’s fourth largest shale oil reserves after the United States, Brazil and Russia, according to the Xinhua News Agency.




I have touched on oil shale recovery projects before:
Companies that had shelved their shale oil technologies are dusting them off now, hoping to find a market.

In an effort to reduce the surface footprint, Shell is abandoning the traditional process by which shale is mined, crushed and then heated in giant ovens called retorts to extract the oil.

The new, patented technique involves drilling holes and inserting heaters in target underground zones to slowly heat the shale layers.

Once the shale is sufficiently heated, a chemical reaction starts and releases the lighter hydrocarbons, which rise. The heavier hydrocarbons remain within the formation. The lighter hydrocarbons, almost a gasoline-type product, are subsequently pumped out of the ground through conventional means.

The advantage of this new process is that it eliminates the problem of waste disposal, said Shell's Terry O'Connor, who works on the Mahogany project. That's because the heavy hydrocarbons are left in their original form in the underground shale. Also, the process requires much less water.
(from a San Diego Union article that no longer appears to be linkable)

More info here.
Presently only Shell masters the key technology of exploiting oil shale in the world—"the underground splitting and heating technology"—and has operated successfully in the US and Canada. It is understood that Shell got into touch with the Jilin Geological and Mineral Exploration and Development Bureau as early as two or three years ago and both sides have signed a letter of intent for cooperation.
(source)

For a less than rosy outlook, go here. On the othe hand, I'm reading The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run out of Energy by Peter Huber and Mark Mills( Amazon info here, which purports to reveal, among other things, "why energy supply is infinite."

I'll let you know.

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