LARAMIE, Wyoming — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is contributing $8 million to Hess-supported research at the University of Wyoming (UW) to advance recovery of stranded oil from unconventional reservoirs.
In the past six years, Hess has invested $25 million in UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Science to increase understanding of the complex rock-fluid interactions in plays including North Dakota’s Bakken Formation. The funding has benefited multiple projects, including research on the novel use of foam-assisted enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
Hess President and Chief Operating Officer Greg Hill said the company’s continued investment in UW’s research is a win-win for both Hess and the energy industry, which ensures “the U.S. is well positioned as a leader in meeting the world’s growing energy needs.”
Foam-assisted hydrocarbon gas injection technology could help producers recover 3% to 5% more oil from unconventional reservoirs, said UW Researcher Mohammad Piri, a Wyoming Excellence Chair in Petroleum Engineering.
Working collaboratively, Hess and Dow have already contributed $2 million to the research. Now the DOE will provide $8 million in additional funds to field test the technology.
It’s one of five projects nationwide the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy recently selected to receive a portion of $39.9 million in federal funding.
All five cost-shared research and development projects are part of the DOE’s basin-specific research strategy, which aims to increase recovery and improve operational efficiency. However, the UW project is the only one that targets unconventional resources.
Piri said most of the crude oil in an unconventional reservoir remains after hydraulic fracturing. “If this pilot is successful, we will have a game-changing technology that can be used widely across unconventional plays,” he said.
In fact, he said, a field pilot test could pave a path for widespread deployment of the technology in unconventional plays. The knowledge gained will be used to calibrate computational simulators to better predict field performance; assess and mitigate potential risks; and ensure successful implementation in the field.
“Understanding the fundamental chemical and physical processes at work in Unconventional reservoirs will be key to unlocking billions of barrels of potential resource,” Hill said.
The foam-assisted gas injection EOR research will be conducted at the Center of Innovation for Flow through Porous Media, an advanced experimental oil and gas research facility. It is housed in UW’s High Bay Research Facility — a facility created in part with $5 million in Hess funding.