Natural Gas Evaluation Technology

September 26, 1996


Sept. 24, 1996 --
Several Asian nations are extremely interested in new technology to evaluate deep natural gas resources, developed at the University of Wyoming's Institute for Energy Research (IER).

Ron Surdam, UW geology professor and IER director, recently toured Asia as a distinguished lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). He gave 23 lectures in Indonesia, Kalimantan, Borneo, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and China on "Anomalous Pressure: Key to Unlocking Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources." A specialist in the detection of natural gas energy resources, Surdam is the AAPG's 1995-96 Roy M. Huffington International Lecturer.

Hydrocarbon resources are crude oil and natural gas. Crude oil usually is recovered from structural and stratigraphic traps in the water-saturated portion of sedimentary basins. Often there is another compartment below the water-saturated column that is characterized by a multi-phased fluid. Natural gas is a pervasive and significant component of this part of the basin.

Surdam says understanding fluid-flow relationships and how they relate to pressure is the key to unlocking hydrocarbon resources in the deeper and relatively unexplored parts of basins.

"We've developed a technology at UW's Institute for Energy Research that takes a small amount of specialized data and evaluates it for accurate estimates of natural gas resources in the deeper portions of sedimentary basins," he says. "Although this technology was developed and tested in the Rocky Mountain region, where we have natural gas reservoirs from Canada to New Mexico, it is applicable to many other parts of the world."

Surdam says that the countries he toured are expanding their transportation and economic systems. In every visited nation, extensive building is underway in all major cities. A large and less expensive source of energy is essential to sustain this growth and emerging economies.

"There is a vital interest in natural gas," he says. "Oil is not an unlimited resource. It's only a question of time as to when the industrialized countries will evolve from crude oil-driven economies to ones based on natural gas."

Natural gas technology developed by Surdam and the IER scientists has been supported the past six years by the Gas Research Institute. Currently, IER field studies are continuing in Indonesia, China, Argentina and Columbia as well as the United States.

"These projects are ongoing and we look forward to building scientific relationships with a number of the countries I visited," he says. "This will help us acquire a large amount of data to validate and modify our technology."

Surdam says links to Asia and Europe are important to the American economy too.

"We are now in worldwide competition for ideas, services and technology, " he says. "We can't compete in terms of cheaper labor, so we have to compete with what we do best, individual creativity and technology."


University of Wyoming

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