As energy companies continue to search for new areas to drill for and extract natural gas, energy producers can use analytics to identify potential locations for natural gas deposits as well as to better forecast their anticipated production rates.
For example, BP is using predictive analytics, visualization tools, and deep-sea drilling technologies to access previously unattainable oil reserves and to dramatically increase crude oil production, according to a blog post in the Wall Street Journal.
Prior to using predictive analytics and other technologies, BP originally expected to produce 10 billion barrels of oil, or 40% of the capacity from its reserves in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay.
However, thanks to the use of big data analytics, BP now expects to recover 15 billion barrels from the region, or 60% of the field’s capacity.
Comparable approaches and technologies are also being used to maximize the recovery of natural gas deposits. In North America, natural gas, primarily in the form of methane, has been found in the shale layers of sedimentary rock formations.
However, it has historically been difficult to extract gas from these rock formations that are generally 6,000 feet to more than 14,000 feet beneath the earth’s surface as energy companies have typically opted to tap more permeable sandstone or limestone layers to extract gas deposits.
However, technological advancements, including the use of energy analytics, are now making it possible for energy companies to extract gas from shale, thus making hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of gas recoverable, according to a U.S. Department of Energy report.
And shale gas production continues to increase, according to the DOE report. Shale gas is expected to represent 45% of all natural gas that’s produced in the US by 2035, up from roughly 14% of the total volume of “dry” natural gas in the US in 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
For its part, the DOE has integrated basic core and geologic data from 35 research wells to prepare publicly available estimates of technically recoverable gas from gas shales in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio.
Different types of data are also used to create models and develop images of the earth’s structure and layers to help examine performance and production in natural gas wells, as Adam Farris points out in a recent issue of Analytics Magazine.
Gas producers can send sound waves deep beneath the earth’s surface to help find new gas deposits. The use of 3D seismic data enables energy companies to gain a much clearer picture of gas deposits that are located thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface.
The technology – combined with the use of analytics to help estimate the amount of gas that’s contained in newly-identified wells – also prevents energy companies from having to spend millions of dollars in drilling costs just to determine whether and how much gas may be available in a particular location.
In addition, seismic and other data that’s captured beneath the earth’s surface can be used by energy firms to plan for the most optimal drilling locations and for economic planning and reporting, says Farris.
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