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STARR News and Current Events


Upcoming Meetings and Presentations

On May 5, the STARR Group at the Bureau of Economic Geology, in conjunction with the Jackson School of Geosciences, gave an all-day workshop on the Wilcox Group at the Houston Core Research Center. The workshop, authored by Iulia Olariu, Bill Ambrose, Sigrid Clift, David Conwell, Shunli Li, Cornel Olariu, Ron Steel, Hongliu Zeng, and Jinyu Zhang, was titled “Depositional Systems and Facies Variability in the Wilcox Group in Texas”. It featured lectures on sequence stratigraphy, facies distribution, and paleogeography of the Wilcox Group from south Texas to the west margin of the Houston Embayment. The workshop culminated in a three-hour core workshop where participants were given a hands-on tour of cores representing a variety of facies in the Gulf Coast.

Harry Rowe discusses core characterization technologies with workshop participants

The Mudrock Systems Research Laboratory (MSRL) and the State of Texas Advanced Resource Recovery Project (STARR) presented a core workshop for 40 members of the Austin Geological Society on December 3. The workshop highlighted the Bureau’s extensive collection of core, including carbonates, shales, and sandstones.

After a morning of introductory lectures accompanied by lively discussion, Bureau researchers Steve Ruppel, Bob Loucks, Bill Ambrose, Harry Rowe, Greg Frébourg, and Jiemin Lu presented six cores from the Upper Cretaceous of the South Texas–Louisiana Shelf and the Western Interior Seaway. Cores included such currently productive units as the Eagle Ford Shale, the Niobrara Chalk, and the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale. Harry Rowe also demonstrated use of advanced core chemostratigraphy characterization equipment owned by the Bureau. (01-15)

Harry Rowe (top image) and Greg Frébourg (left) discuss new technologies and core characteristics with workshop attendees

Greg Frébourg discusses attributes of selected core from the Bureau's CRC

Heat flow map of Texas: click to see larger image

Image of Texas 3D subsurface from Geothermal Research in Deep Sediments (GRIDS) database

Bruce Cutright (top row, left) and the Geothermal reserarch team at BEG
Stark, steamy volcanic crags buttressed by gleaming pipes leading to a power generating plant is how most of us probably think about geothermal energy. But the Bureau hosts a small team of innovative researchers who are certain that "unconventional geothermal" energy is the cheapest, cleanest way to meet Texas' electricity requirements for years to come. In an effort led by the Bureau's own geothermal energy evangelist, Bruce Cutright, Texas became the largest contributor of data to the newly-launched U.S. Department of Energy National Geothermal Data System (NGDS), an online open-source platform that facilitates the discovery and use of geothermal data, hopefully enabling future researchers to speed geothermal energy development.

Why does geothermal energy make so much sense today? For one thing, the development of binary-cycle heat exchanging systems, steam generators which use low-boiling point refrigerants instead of water to produce steam, allow us to tap into much cooler heat sources than "traditional" geothermal systems, which need to be located over geologic "hot spots". Bottom-hole temperatures of only 200 – 400 degrees are needed as the heat source for these new binary-cycle generators, and there are over 26,000 existing oil and gas wells in Texas alone which already meet that criterion.

A pair of these wells circulating hot brines through a binary-cycle heat exchanging system produces less expensive electricity than any other renewable energy source (according to a recent Department of Energy analysis ). This geothermal energy is also base load, consistent power (not intermittent), and the process produces absolutely no CO2. The economics for "unconventional geothermal" in Texas also seem to work. "Every oil producer in the state should look at this as a way to extend the economic life of mature or watered-out fields with high reservoir temperatures," says Cutright. "Look at the benefits – a continuing income stream for the operator, royalties for the landowner, and severance taxes for the state - what's not to like!" Geothermal energy is definitely hot these days! To learn more about the new NGDS, click here: (06.14)
Greg Frébourg (right) examines core samples with workshop attendees
Bob Loucks (right) explains core features to workshop participants

On May 19, Bill Ambrose, Tucker He(06.14)ntz, Bob Loucks, Gregory Frébourg, and Eric Potter, members of the Bureau's STARR Group, in conjunction with the Austin Geological Society, conducted an all-day workshop on the Woodbine Group in East Texas field.

The workshop, titled "Sequence Stratigraphy, Depositional Systems, and Facies Complexity in the Woodbine Group in East Texas Field," featured lectures on the field history, sequence stratigraphic and facies framework, and diagenetic controls on reservoir quality. The workshop culminated in a three-hour core workshop where participants were given a hands-on tour of cores representing a variety of reservoir facies in the field. (06.14)


Gregory Frébourg (above) and Bob Loucks (left) discuss core samples with workshop attendees

2011 Geothermal Energy Utilization Conference
The Bureau is partnering with Southern Methodist University and corporate sponsors to present the 2011 Geothermal Energy Utilization Conference on the SMU campus in Dallas, June 13–15. The 3-day conference brings together research leaders from both business and academe to discuss specific issues relevant to expanding geothermal electrical production in oil and gas fields. Bruce Cutright of BEG’s STARR group will be presenting “Transformation of Tight Shale Gas Formations to Geothermal Energy Production,” a talk that explores the possibilities of substantially enhancing long-term energy resources by transitioning existing oil fields to geothermal energy production. The conference will explore these opportunities and discuss ready technologies that can make geothermal energy production economically competitive with wind, solar energy, and biofuels.
AAPG Annual Meeting - April 11 - 14, 2010 - New Orleans, Louisiana:





Monday Talks

Loucks, R.G. An Approach to Understanding Deep-to Ultradeep-Reservoir-Quality (Porosity) Risk using a Large, Regional Wireline-Log Based Petrophysical Database in the Deep Shelf Area Along the Texas Gulf Coast Theme II: Siliciclastic Deep-Water Depositional Systems, Modern and Ancient I (SEPM) 353/354/355
10:30 am

Monday Morning Poster

Nance, H.S.

Pre-Salt Seismic Sequence and Depositional Evolution of the Campos Basin, Brazil

Theme V: Salt, Sub-Salt and Pre-Salt Tectonics, Models, and Hydrocarbon Traps (AAPG)

Exhibition Hall
8:30 am - 12:30 pm

Tuesday Morning Poster

Ambrose, W.A.

Delineating Areas for Clean Coal in Texas: Geology and Infrastructure

Theme VIII: Coal: Versatile Fuel Source for the Future (EMD)

Exhibition Hall 8:30 am - 12:30 pm

Tuesday Afternoon Poster

Loucks, R.G. Detrital Mineral Composition and Reservoir Quality of Lower Miocene Sandstones, Western Gulf of Mexico Theme VIII: Understanding the Gulf of Mexico: Depositional Systems, Play Concepts and Structure (AAPG) Exhibition Hall
1:15 pm - 5:00 pm
Wang, F.P. and Hammes, U. Key Petrophysical Factors Affecting Fluid Flow in Geopressured Haynesville Shale Theme VIII: Understanding the Gulf of Mexico: Depositional Systems, Play Concepts and Structure (AAPG) Exhibition Hall
1:15 pm - 5:00 pm
Hamlin, H. and Hammes, U. Stratigraphic and Depositional Controls on Shale-Gas Reservoir Development in the Haynesville Shale, Northwestern Gulf of Mexico Basin Theme VIII: Understanding the Gulf of Mexico: Depositional Systems, Play Concepts and Structure (AAPG) Exhibition Hall
1:15 pm - 5:00 pm

Hammes, U. and Hamlin, H.

Influence of Facies Variations on Exploration, Production, and Resource Assessment in Gas-Shale Plays: A Geologic and Petrophysical Evaluation of the Haynesville Shale, East Texas, USA Theme VIII: Understanding the Gulf of Mexico: Depositional Systems, Play Concepts and Structure (AAPG)

Exhibition Hall
1:15 pm - 5:00 pm

Wednesday Talks

Ogiesoba, O.C. and Hammes, U.

Understanding Lithologic Significance of Amplitude Envelope and Acoustic Impedance Within Oligocene and Miocene Strata, South Texas Gulf Coast

Theme I: Innovative Interpretation and Use of Seismic Data (AAPG)

2:20 pm

Wednesday Morning Poster

Ambrose, W.A. A Survey of Impact Craters in the Inner Solar System: Perspectives from Earth Theme IX: Astrogeology-Impact of Collisions on Earth's History and the Occurrence of Hydrocarbon and Mineral Resources (EMD) Exhibition Hall
8:30 am - 12:30 pm

GCAGS - Shreveport, Louisiana - September, 2009

“Strategies for Optimized Oil Recovery in Fluvial-Dominated Deltaic Reservoirs in the Lower Woodbine Group in East Texas Field”, by William A. Ambrose, Tucker F. Hentz, Florence Bonnaffé, Robert G. Loucks, and Fred P. Wang in the session “Structure & Lithostratigraphy: Old Fields and New Plays”


Ursula Hammes and Rob Reed presented their latest STARR-sponsored research on shale-gas systems at the US Gulf Regional Mudstones as Unconventional Shale Gas/Oil Reservoirs Applied Geoscience Conference, which was organized by the Houston Geological Society and the Energy Mineral Division of AAPG in Houston. The sold-out conference was attended by 400+ geoscientists and engineers from industry and academe. Ursula presented a talk on "Sequence Stratigraphy, Depositional Environments, and Extent of the Haynesville Shale, East Texas," and Rob presented a talk with co-author Kitty Milliken titled "Particle Sources and Mudrock Properties: Contrasting Examples from Cenozoic Mudrocks of the Gulf of Mexico and Paleozoic Siliceous BEG Centennial
Mudrocks of the North American Mid-Continent." The two talks were well received, even amidst the variety of presentations on mudstones, which ranged from the history of mudstone geology to organic geochemistry and industry examples on shale-gas plays by both academe and industry.


Recent Awards

L. Frank Brown: Sidney Powers Memorial Award, AAPG 2010.

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