University of Texas at Austin

Bureau Shale Study Receives Department of Energy Grant

August 31, 2016
Shale studies

Previous shale studies at the Bureau include this 30-year gas productivity map (Ikonnikova et al., 2013) using assumptions described in Barnett Shale Reserves and Production Forecast: A Bottom-Up Approach (from Browning et al., 2013). County and State Vector Data were acquired from the Texas Natural Resource Information System (TNRIS). Well data provided by IHS and Drillinginfo; well raster logs provided by MJ systems

The Bureau of Economic Geology Shale Production and Reserve Study at The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a grant of $350,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy for an 18-month study reviewing prior analysis of major American shale gas plays. As the United States considers power production options, security of natural gas supply is a critical parameter, and these studies represent the most data-intensive, integrated analysis available.

The main objective of the update is to enhance resource assessment work that the Shale Study team conducted with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on the Barnett, Fayetteville, Haynesville, and Marcellus natural gas plays. The study will help to ensure consistency of approach across the four shale gas plays and will incorporate recent data, allowing researchers to capture new market dynamics, emerging technologies, and company strategies that drive shale resource development.  

“Our current outlooks were built on relatively short production histories: 6 years of intense horizontal drilling in the Barnett, 5 years in the Fayetteville and Haynesville, and 4 years in the Marcellus,” said Dr. Svetlana Ikonnikova, co–principal investigator of the Shale Study. “Since we completed these studies, more wireline logs and core analyses have been released, allowing for more accurate geological and petrophysical characterization.”

The addition of 4 extra years of production data for the Barnett gas play, 3 years of data for the Fayetteville play, and 2 years of data for the Haynesville and Marcellus plays enables the study of emerging drilling and completion technologies. The Shale Study team will revisit the original production scenarios performed by the Bureau of Economic Geology in order to refine well-productivity analyses in each shale basin and set a consistent data year (2015) and future production year (2045) for all four basins. Access to data on hydraulic fracturing treatment fluids, which were not available during the original analyses of the Barnett, Fayetteville, and Haynesville shale plays but which were found to be an important determinant of production in the analysis of the Marcellus play, will enable the enhancement of well economics and field outlook analyses.

The Department of Energy grant will fund individual reports on each shale basin based on geological analysis, decline analysis, production economics, and field outlook. In addition, a collective report will combine the outlooks from the individual plays and discuss alternative scenarios with respect to prices, technology, pace of drilling, and other factors. The Shale Study team is also seeking partners to help advise on the research effort and to participate in the results.  They have developed a prospectus for joining this vital new research initiative, and memberships are still available.  For more information, please contact Svetlana Ikonnikova.