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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Nov. 20, 2001

KU Researchers Awarded Dept. of Energy Contract

LAWRENCE--Petroleum researchers from the University of Kansas have been awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate ways to identify Kansas oil and gas fields that are candidates for horizontal drilling.

The contract is slightly more than $400,000 and involves scientists from the Kansas Geological Survey, based on KU's west campus, and the KU Tertiary Oil Recovery Project.

Horizontal wells are drilled down to an oil-producing rock formation, as in conventional oil wells, then drilled horizontally or along the rock layer. As a result, the well encounters more oil-bearing rock and often produces far more oil than with conventional drilling. Drilling a horizontal well is more expensive than a conventional vertical well.

A relatively small number of horizontal wells have been drilled in Kansas, and only a few of those have been economically successful.

"Our goal is to demonstrate tools and techniques that will help independent operators, with limited resources, analyze when and where to use horizontal drilling," said Survey scientist Saibal Bhattacharya, the project's principal investigator. "That should lead to increased use of horizontal drilling, which should lead to increased oil production."

The researchers will make computer models and computer spreadsheets available over the internet for use in screening potential locations for horizontal drilling. This will help producers evaluate the application of horizontal wells in mature fields and help them maximize the production from those wells.

Researchers plan to select an oil field in central Kansas to demonstrate the use of horizontal drilling.

"Many of these fields are operated by small, independent oil companies that have limited access to new technology for oil and gas production," said Bhattacharya. "Horizontal drilling could help reduce the abandonment of these older, mature fields and get significant amounts of additional oil out of the ground."

In addition to the Survey and the TORP, the project will involve Mull Drilling Company, Inc., of Wichita, and Maurer Engineering, Inc., of Houston, Texas.

Story by Rex Buchanan, (785) 864-2106
For more information, contact Saibal Bhattachaarya, (785) 864-2058

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