The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences
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January 2014

With U.S. oil production from shale formations making international headlines, a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, headed by Bureau Director Scott Tinker and Svetlana Ikonnikova, has just been awarded over $1.5 million to study the nation’s two most prolific shale oil plays and their impact on future energy supply. BEG Director Scott Tinker and Svetlana Ikonnikova The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recently confirmed the award of the grant, its second to this research team, coming on the heels of the completion of the team’s groundbreaking study of four immense U.S. shale gas plays. The study will be the most comprehensive public look at actual well-by-well results from North Dakota’s Bakken and South Texas’ Eagle Ford shale oil plays to date.  The two-year study will investigate geologic description, resource estimation, and future-production modeling in the Bakken and the Eagle Ford, leading to greater understanding of expected oil recovery from each existing well.  It will then extrapolate the results to predict the potential recovery from all potential well locations in each basin, giving a “bottom-up” view of projected production and reserves. Ultimately, the study will help to determine the capability of U.S. shale oil to contribute significantly to oil supply for the next 20 years, under various economic and technology assumptions.

from left to right: Alex Sun, Seyyed Hosseini, and Jiemin LuBureau researchers Alex Sun, Seyyed Hosseini, and Jiemin Lu have received a substantial grant from the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory for a 3-year program to develop a pressure-based inversion and data assimilation system (PIDAS) for CO2 leakage detection. One of the current major hurdles to industrial-scale implementation of geological carbon sequestration projects is the potential migration of fluids from the storage formations and the resulting liabilities. The ability to accurately identify leakage pathways from the storage zone is crucial to site licensees and regulators. Pressure-based monitoring technology remains the most cost-efficient and reliable technique for early detection, and provides the greatest detection potential for broad areal coverage. The proposed PIDAS tool will expand and strengthen existing pressure-based techniques for leakage detection in GCS repositories, and research will employ advanced analysis, laboratory experiments, and field tests to develop more effective methods for identifying leakage pathways.


3The Bureau congratulates J.-P. Nicot and Cathy Brown, recipients of 2013 Excellence Awards from the Jackson School of Geosciences. Nicot received the school's most prestigious award, the Joseph C. Walter Excellence Award, for excellence in areas including research, 2teaching service, professional activity, and administration. J.-P. served as Principal Investigator on multiple projects during the past year and garnered special attention for his studies concerning water resource management and water use in shale production. Cathy Brown, the Bureau's Media Manager, was presented the JSG Outstanding Service Award, recognizing outstanding leadership and service to BEG, the Jackson School of Geosciences, the University, and her profession.

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Bill Fisher (right) and Michelle Michot Foss (Mines Mineral Economics, 1985) were among the distinguished speakers at the Colorado School of Mines symposium, New Frontiers in Sedimentary and Petroleum Geology, held on November 12, 2013 to honor Bob Weimer (left) and to launch the new Robert J. Weimer Distinguished Chair in Sedimentary and Petroleum Geology. Dr. Michot Foss also spoke at the Colegio de Mexico symposium on "Petroleum and Gas in North America" on November 19 in Mexico City and to the Pricewaterhouse Coopers partners conference in Vancouver on November 20.



ERLA recent study by Senior Research Scientist Bridget Scanlon and co-authors Ian Duncan and Robert Reedy, published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters, finds that the use of natural gas in power generation saves water and reduces vulnerability to drought. Texas generates more electrical power than any other U.S. state and has been one of those hardest hit by drought conditions in recent years. "The bottom line is that boosting natural gas production and using more natural gas in power generation makes our electric grid more drought resilient," says Scanlon. "Statewide, we're on track to continue reducing our water intensity of electricity generation." To study the drought resilience of Texas power plants, Scanlon and her colleagues collected water use data for all 423 of the state's power plants from the Energy Information Administration and from state agencies, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Water Development Board, as well as other data. The study focused exclusively on Texas, but the authors believe the results should be applicable to other regions of the United States where water consumption rates for the key technologies evaluated are generally the same. The study also created an interactive online GIS data base that enables users to explore Texas power generation by fuel type, water consumption, and power output, along with other data. To view the Environmental Research Letters article and accompanying video, click here.

Tinker_arctic"A Classroom at the Edge of the World" tracks the journey of a group of 58 graduate students and 17 professors, including BEG Director Scott Tinker, to study geology in Svalbard, Norway in the frigid reaches of the Arctic North. The Svalex (for Svalbard Expedition) field trip, hosted by research partner Statoil aboard the research vessel Expedition, is detailed in Alcalde, a publication of the University of Texas Ex-Students Association. To read the full story, click here.




 

 
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