ITF to Deliver Technologies that Could Maximize Tight Gas Recovery

ITF, the UK based Industry Technology Facilitator, will be launching five separate Joint Industry Projects (JIPs), two of which are with US based researchers, in a bid to improve existing knowledge of Tight Gas reserves and maximise gas recovery.

A not for profit organization owned by 19 major operator and service company members, ITF identifies exploration and production (E&P) technology needs and helps foster the development of new technologies by establishing JIPs with up to 100% funding available for successful, innovative technology proposals.

Tight Gas was highlighted as a technology theme by ITF and its members, with the drive to address issues surrounding Tight Gas Reserves coming primarily from two basins, the North American gas basins and Southern North Sea/West European gas basins -- both of which have significant volumes of Tight Gas.

Issuing a call for proposals to address a number of technology needs inherent to the theme of Tight Gas, ITF received 20 highly focussed proposals from globally respected research institutes and companies, 30% of which came from US based organisations.

Speaking about the theme and the response ITF received to its call for proposals, Neil Poxon, managing director for ITF said, "Attractive gas prices in North America and unprecedented interest in world markets promise to bring unconventional gas into the forefront of our energy future and ITF is focussing on addressing the technology challenges faced in the recovery of Tight Gas."

"Estimates vary, but some studies suggest that gas reserves in the United States may exceed 15,000 Tcf (Trillion cubic feet), with annual production between 2 and 3 Tcf. This is considerable when compared to the UK where studies suggest the North Sea has around 5 Tcf with an upside of almost 15 Tcf.

"Irrespective of the actual figures though, the prize locally and globally is major and accessing some of these reserves is the focus of this work program.

"Often found onshore, the size, location, and quality of Tight Gas reservoirs varies considerably yet only a small percentage is economically viable with existing technology.

"It is for this reason that Tight Gas has become such an important focus for ITF and indeed our members. The level of quality proposals we have received has led us to launch five separate JIPs, 40% of which are with US based researchers.

"We have worked closely with our local members in the US and the UK to understand the technical challenges these regions are facing and the importance of accessing reserves and operating more efficiently and effectively."

ITF is looking to build on existing knowledge about Tight Gas reserves and find technological solutions that will give the industry a better understanding of:

--The reservoir itself e.g. where gas is held and locating sweet spots

--The fracturing process, to release the gas and maximise recovery

Continuing, Neil Poxon explained, "Whilst some of the technology challenges faced by those operating in North America are common to those faced by oil and gas companies globally, there are also those which are specific to the region. In light of this, it is evident the US development community has the knowledge and expertise to engage with the ITF process and to coherently address the specific technology needs which are pertinent to both North American basins and indeed the global industry.

"We recognize that members are pursuing internal initiatives within their global operations, yet we do believe that for a large multi-facetted area like this, a coherent and collaborative approach would not only be beneficial but in some cases essential if the value is to be realized."

ITF has seen remarkable growth in the last two years with more than 15 global JIPs launched last year, 70 technology proposals received in the last three months alone, 32 projects running simultaneously and a 50% increase in membership.

In 2006, ITF opened up its membership to international operators and service companies -- that of which had previously been limited to UK based companies. Since then, international interest in ITF to foster the development of new technology for the global oil and gas industry is stronger than ever.

"The response we received to this particular theme is testimony to the success and importance of our global remit, added Neil Poxon.

Established in 1999, ITF identifies technology needs, fosters innovation and facilitates the development and implementation of new technologies into oil and gas provinces around the world.

To date ITF has been responsible for successfully delivering over 115 collaborative and revolutionary oilfield technology projects to the market with direct ITF membership funding in excess of UK32 million, with projects linked to an estimated UK20 million of equity investment and over UK20 million in funding for field trials.