Washington, DC - The commercialization of an innovative telemetry communications system developed through a U.S. Department of Energy research program will help U.S. producers tap previously hard-to-reach natural gas resources deep underground, resulting in access to additional supplies that will help enhance national energy security.
The patented, proprietary Sharewell L.P. EM-MWD electromagnetic (EM) telemetry system was initially developed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and E-Spectrum Technologies of San Antonio, Texas, under a four-year, cost-shared agreement. It was part of FE’s Deep Trek initiative to foster new technologies to facilitate deep exploration of natural gas resources.
Using novel new technologies normally associated with interplanetary deep space navigation and missile guidance systems, the technology is designed to transmit data to and from downhole equipment in real time, enable surface processing of downhole sensor data, and control downhole tools directly from the surface. The technology allows the system to successfully operate at greater depths than other EM systems and to propagate signals through formations that typically weaken electromagnetic waves.
Rights to the EM technology were purchased in September by Sharewell of Houston, Texas, which plans to utilize the technology as part of its measurement-while-drilling (MWD) systems.
DOE's Deep Trek Program was established in 2002 to develop "smart" systems to address the needs of U.S. producers drilling to depths of 15,000 feet and deeper, where more than 125 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of untapped natural gas is estimated to be in place. For comparative purposes, DOE’s Energy Information Administration estimates technically recoverable U.S. natural gas resources at 2,119 Tcf, with proved reserves of 238 Tcf.
Natural gas is an important energy source for the U.S. economy, providing nearly one-quarter of total energy consumption in 2009. It is expected to remain a significant energy option for meeting increased energy consumption in the years ahead, and domestic supplies beyond traditional resources will be required to meet demand. Technology innovations through FE’s Oil and Natural Gas R&D Program will be important in helping locate and develop these and other diverse natural gas resources in an environmentally responsible manner.