DOE-Sponsored Software App Assists Exploration of Fayetteville Shale

Fayetteville Shale Area
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A project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has resulted in the development of the Fayetteville Shale Infrastructure Placement Analysis System, or IPAS, which is now available online. The web-based software application enables oil and gas operators to better plan for natural gas recovery in environmentally sensitive areas.

In a project managed by DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory, the University of Arkansas joined with Argonne National Laboratory to develop the software planning tool, which aids oil and gas exploration and development companies in considering all ecosystem contingencies associated with the 50-mile-wide Fayetteville Shale play.

Researchers believe that the play, which underlies numerous counties in central and eastern Arkansas, has enormous potential as a natural gas resource. With over two million acres currently under lease, the Fayetteville Shale is on its way to becoming one of the most active shale plays in the United States.

The risk-management tool enables operators to better evaluate alternative sites, identify sensitive areas, and minimize environmental impacts. The IPAS software allows for better planning in sensitive locations by providing a map of the intersection of proposed features, such as drilling pads, roads and gathering lines, with sensitive water locations, existing transmission lines, soil data, and more. Using the software, operators can streamline the process for permitting well placement and infrastructure development.

Researchers estimate that the software can reduce the time required to locate infrastructure elements by a day or more for at least 10 percent of well sites, which translates into significant cost savings. Estimated cost savings could approach $2.25 million per year when a drilling rig lease rate of up to $45,000 per day and a rate of 500 wells per year are considered.

The IPAS software application, in conjunction with other technology developments under DOE’s Oil and Natural Gas Program, helps to ensure that clean-burning natural gas will continue to play a vital role in meeting U.S. energy needs, especially from domestic gas-filled shale.

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