Understanding the Full Lifecycle for Unconventional Gas

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Golder Associates is one of the few consultancies offering skills that encompass the full unconventional gas lifecycle: exploration, appraisal, development, production and rejuvenation or decommissioning.

In this interview with the organizers of the European Shale and Oil Gas Summit, Mark Cottrell, UK Oil and Gas leader and FracMan Europe leader, discusses Golder’s international experience of working in the appraisal and development of unconventionals.

Ahead of the second tranche of awards for the 14th onshore licensing round, Cottrell suggests that operators look at both subsurface and near surface operations simultaneously, and should consider using Golder’s Fracman technology to locate and stimulate new development wells. Getting a detailed understanding of these issues ahead of completing the permitting/ESIA process and will provide operators with the best chances of obtaining licenses.

Cottrell also highlights the benefits that shale gas could have on the UK manufacturing and domestic energy markets. He stresses that more should be done to get the message across that the industry has the necessary skills to extract the gas from the ground and, more importantly, that it can do it safely according to set of strict guidelines.

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Golder Associates are one of the few consultancies offering skills that encompass the full unconventional gas lifecycle: exploration, appraisal, development, production and rejuvenation or decommissioning. On the subsurface side, Golder has extensively supported the appraisal and development process through their FracMan Technology Group and its FracMan DFN software, helping to best locate wells and optimize hydraulic fracture stimulation. On the near surface side, Golder is also extremely active in providing the services required for completing the necessary permitting and ESIAs, as well as operational areas like water and waste management.

Golder Associates were Gold Sponsors for this year’s European Shale Gas & Oil Summit, which took place in Manchester on the 15th & 16th October. We caught up with Mark Cottrell, UK Oil and Gas Leader and FracMan Europe Leader for Golder Associates at ESGOS 2015 to learn more about their work within unconventionals.

What experience do Golder Associates have working in unconventional resources to date?

‘Golder Associates has a long and varied history of working in the appraisal and development of unconventional resources. Golder’s first unconventional project was back in the early 1980s when we worked on a North African oil shale project for one of the supermajors. Obviously things have come a long way since then. With the focus on North American unconventionals, Golder has developed into one of the most experienced environmental and ground engineering consultancies and has, since 2008, worked extensively in shale and coal resources in the US, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Australia, China, South Africa, Mozambique, Morocco, Poland, and here in the UK’.

With the second tranche of awards for the 14th onshore licensing round due for release, how do you think Golder can help operators with licenses in shale gas exploration?

‘Often in the shale industry, the two areas of subsurface and near surface are treated separately. However, Golder believes that by providing expertise in both of these areas we can help operators achieve licences in shale gas exploration much more efficiently. In previous projects we have successfully used our subsurface FracMan hydraulic fracture expertise to help inform where to locate new development wells and how to safely and efficiently stimulate these wells. Getting such an understanding in advance of completing the permitting/ESIA process is a key benefit for operators in getting licence applications properly focussed and, therefore, providing the best chances of success’.

Golder has actively immersed itself in international shale and coal gas projects for a long time now and has a proven track record of supporting the safe and economic development of the industry.

What do you think needs to happen in the UK and Europe to maximise opportunities within shale gas exploration?

‘We believe shale gas could revolutionise the UK manufacturing and domestic energy markets. To maximise its opportunity with shale, the UK and Europe needs to get the message across that the industry has the necessary skills to extract the gas from the ground and, more importantly, that it can do it safely. Nobody in the petroleum industry wants to develop shale at the expense of leaving an indelible mark on the environment around us. We think the industry should continue to work in a transparent fashion and show that we have a set of guidelines, which protect the environment. Additionally, we need to demonstrate that we have the right toolkit and experience that allows us to work efficiently and safely within those guidelines’.

A key differentiator between Golder and your competitors is FracMan. Can you tell us more about your FracMan technology?

‘FracMan is an important part of our offering for assessing the potential development path of fractured shale/coal reservoirs. We’ve been commercially using FracMan since 1987 for the analysis of fractured rock masses, having previously used it for nuclear waste repositories, underground mines, near surface aquifers, and for fractured shale reservoirs. FracMan’s aim is to provide a rational description of the spatially varying natural fracture network existing in the rock, and use this understanding to help target ways of efficiently and safely developing the rock mass. For tight rocks like shale, production of gas or oil from the reservoir is all about fractures. FracMan provides an understanding about the fracture network such that we can better locate the next well and achieve the best production. The jewel in FracMan’s crown is our hydraulic fracture simulator, the world’s first proper 3D hydraulic fracture DFN simulator. The benefits of FracMan are many, with our clients often looking to achieving optimal well positioning, completion and hydraulic fracture. Essentially optimising efficiency, value and safety. But we’re also applying FracMan to the environmental geohazard risk side of the industry, using FracMan’s hydraulic fracture simulator to understand the possible interaction of hydraulic fracturing with nearby fault structures and overlying strata. Not only can it help operators and developers achieve the best economic production, but it can also help us do things more safely’.

For more information about FracMan technology visit their our page here.


For more information, please contact:

Golder Associates Ireland Limited
Mark Cottrell, Senior Engineer
Email: Mark_Cottrell@golder.com

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