Collaboration is cooking with gas (and oil)

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FEI and the University of Oklahoma (OU) are to work together to establish an oil and gas centre of excellence – the FEI-OU Pore Scale Characterization Laboratory at the OU Mewborne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering (MPGE).

The research will focus on the development of routine quantitative methods to classify shales in the economic assessment of tight oil and gas plays. Through the collaboration FEI seeks to further develop its position as a supplier of high-resolution imaging solutions to the oil and gas industry by better defining and expanding its role in the characterisation of unconventional reservoirs.

'There has been tremendous growth in the development of oil and gas found in unconventional shale reservoirs,' said Carl Sondergeld, professor at MPGE. 'Unlike conventional reservoirs, the pores that hold the oil and gas in shales are very small and poorly connected, hence the term "tight". Petroleum engineers would say they have low porosity and low permeability, making it difficult to extract any hydrocarbons that might be present.

'FEI’s tools allow us to see the pores and organics directly, view the material they contain, and actually reconstruct three-dimensional models of the pore network. The challenge now is to relate these nanometre-scale features to the large-scale geological and petrophysical characteristics that determine the economic potential of a particular reservoir.'

Rudy Kellner, vice president of FEI's Industry Group, said: 'FEI has a strong track record of transforming laboratory methods into industrial solutions, for example, our systems have become critical in the semiconductor manufacturing industry for process control and failure analysis.

'We would like to replicate that success as the leading provider of "information from images" in the upstream oil and gas industry. Collaborating in the development of external resources, like this FEI-OU Pore Scale Characterisation Laboratory, allows us to acquire a deeper understanding of the industry’s challenges and our role in providing solutions.'

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