U Oklahoma Simulating Shale Gas Reservoirs

Nancy Anderson
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Shale gas reservoirs and the methods used to exploit the petrochemicals that are found in them have been in the news quite a bit recently. Most notably, there are serious concerns about the composition of the fluids oil and gas companies use for their hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) processes, and their effects on local groundwater and the health of citizens who live in the surrounding watershed.

However, the main interest in shale gas reserves is that natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal or oil, and increased domestic production would significantly reduce the country’s dependency on foreign-sourced oil and gas. If hydraulic fracturing and gas production can be exploited in a cost-effective manner, we may see yet another renaissance in the North American gas production industry. As it stands, this is exceptionally difficult to do.

To that end, University of Oklahoma researchers Richard Sigal, Faruk Civan, and Deepak Devagouda of the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy are creating a new model of the fluid flows within shale gas reserves. In other methods of gas production, the fracking fluids that are pumped in to the deposit are mostly recovered, but because of the composition of shale, most of the water is retained, and mixed-phase flow within the shale makes it difficult to predict ideal drilling and collection locations for gas recovery.

Physorg has a more detailed article explaining the problems with current simulators, and how they need to incorporate new findings on shale’s porous structure.
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Mike Wrightly is mostly diesel fumes and duct tape; he grew up around heavy equipment, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.



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