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September 2015 - Issue 6
Welcome to the Battelle Oil & Gas Newsletter. We put this together as a service to our friends in the oil and gas industry keep you informed of the latest news from our scientists and engineers and the industry.
Battelle works with oil and gas companies and others to advance the industry with the latest science and technology. Battelle Oil & Gas will keep you up-to-date on cutting edge technologies, services and processes.
Researchers at Battelle have developed a new method for rapid field detection of bacteria implicated in Microbially-Induced Corrosion (MIC). Now, Battelle is forming a Joint Industry Project (JIP) to complete laboratory and field validation studies and move the technology to commercialization.
MIC is a significant cause of asset damage for the oil & gas industry, impacting downhole, offshore and surface equipment. When left untreated, it can lead to asset failure resulting in production delays, flow disruption or even accidental releases. In order to select the appropriate treatment, operators need to know what kind of bacteria are causing the corrosion. Current practice is to send samples away to a lab for DNA analysis, but this can take days if not weeks. Battelle’s rapid field test for MIC allows operators to identify the genetic markers of a range of MIC-causing bacteria onsite using a simple hand-held detection device. Instead of waiting for days or weeks to get results, operators can now diagnose an MIC problem in the field within hours of collecting samples and start mitigating action right away.
The handheld detection kit has performed well in laboratory studies, providing fast and accurate detection and identification of certain common MIC-causing bacteria. Battelle is now ready to expand the range of bacteria groups and move into formal field validation studies of the technology with select industry partners. Participating JIP partners will have pre-sale access to the technology and the opportunity to participate in field trials at their work sites. They will also receive the data and results from these trials. In return, partners will share in the costs of the study.
Researchers at Battelle are pioneering new methods for assessing exposure to hydrocarbons in wildlife. By analyzing oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (“oxy-PAHs”) in animal tissue rather than the parent PAHs, researchers can get a more accurate picture of how wildlife may have been exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons in the environment.
Understanding this impact is especially important on the North Slope of Alaska, where native communities still depend on wildlife such as caribou, arctic birds and marine mammals for subsistence. The North Slope Borough of Alaska came to Battelle to find new ways to analyze hydrocarbon exposure through the food chain. This gives environmental researchers a new tool to help assess whether animals exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons are safe for native populations to hunt and eat.
PAHs are a compounds that are found in crude oil, other fossil fuels and tars. While environmental studies have long focused on the presence of hydrocarbons in soils and sediments, analyzing their presence in living organisms presents analytical challenges. Living organisms have natural methods to metabolize and excrete PAHs over time. As PAHs are metabolized, they become oxygenated, turning into oxy-PAHs. These oxy-PAHs can be analyzed in excretions to monitor exposure in human health studies. However, finding excretions to analyze for wildlife studies is usually not a viable option. Researchers need methods for measuring oxy-PAHs directly in animal tissue. The new methods developed by Battelle can be used to better assess petroleum hydrocarbon exposure in wildlife populations and make safety recommendations for the human populations that hunt them.
Analyzing oxy-PAHs in animal tissue gives the oil and gas industry a new tool for baseline assessment, monitoring and oil spill response. Researchers will be able to easily monitor biomarkers in sentinel wildlife species and get a more accurate picture of how hydrocarbons flow through the food web.
Battelle has long been a leader in environmental analysis and monitoring for the oil and gas industry. Researchers at Battelle are advancing analytical methods at the molecular, cellular, genetic, population and ecosystem levels to better understand the environmental and human health risks of hydrocarbon exposure.
On the north shore of Alaska, bowhead whales, native communities and oil & gas developers are learning to live together. This fall, Battelle is hosting a scientific meeting to examine the implications of research in bowhead whale genomics for both industry and indigenous communities.
Bowhead whales are important to native Alaskan Eskimo communities for both subsistence and ceremonial purposes. They are also protected by national and international conservation laws. Oil & gas developers operating in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas must understand bowhead whale populations and migration patterns so that their activities do not negatively impact either whale populations or the Eskimo hunts, both of which are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Genomic research conducted on behalf of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the North Slope Borough and the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission can help the oil and gas community understand the risks of different activities and make better decisions to balance environmental and development priorities.
Battelle and the North Slope Borough are sponsoring a symposium on Bowhead Whale Genomics to be held at Battelle’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio on Oct. 14-15. During the meeting, researchers will present the latest data on the Beaufort Sea bowhead whale populations and facilitate dialogue among scientists, industry leaders, whaling captains and other stakeholders. Sessions will focus on what has been done in the past, what is being done presently and what should be done with the bowhead whale genetics program in the future. The goal of the meeting is to help the North Slope Borough and the Department of Wildlife Management decide how to use genetics in their research and monitoring programs.
On day one, a representative of the North Slope Borough will discuss the importance of bowhead whales in Eskimo culture. On day two, Hans Thewissen, author of The Walking Whales, will share his insights on the evolutionary history of whales.
Finding the right proppant for specific geologic formations and oil recovery applications can be a challenge. Battelle has developed and patented a new proppant binder system that can be injected and cured in place in unconsolidated formations. The resin-coated binder system was developed to meet the needs of “Frac and Pack” (FnP) oil & gas operations, especially in wells using water injection to boost production.
Geologic formation sand control presents challenges for FnP production; without the right proppant, water injection can result in the loss of the annular pack. Battelle has developed an immobile proppant that cannot be flushed away from the annulus during high-rate water injection. The resin-coated proppant binder system combines high hydraulic stability with high permeability for superior performance in FnP applications. It also maintains its integrity with the pressure and temperature fluctuations that occur during injection and shut down. Tests have demonstrated that it provides superior performance and the cure profile, mechanical strength and flow-through permeability performance required to pass the critical unconfined compressive strength (UCS) and flow-through test (FTC) milestones.
The resin binder can be cured in place. Latent-cure binder chemistry provides high shelf stability and prevents premature curing, providing several days to relocate the FnP rig to the next location.
Elastomers, commonly used in O-rings and other seals, take a lot of punishment in a downhole environment. Battelle has developed a new, proprietary post-production treatment method that significantly increases their performance. Building on this success, Battelle is poised to develop new inert materials to withstand High Pressure/High Temperature (HPHT) conditions.
Current elastomers provide limited options when designing hardware for HPHT operations. The best performing HPHT oil field materials are perfluoroelastomers (FFKM) like Kalrez ™. They provide superior performance compared to fluoroelastomer copolymers (FKM) like Viton ™and Aflas™ (FEPM), but are much more costly—often 30 to 100 times more expensive.
Exposure to chemicals commonly used in oil & gas production can cause FKM elastomers to swell and soften. The high temperatures and extreme alkaline conditions in downhole environments degrade the material, causing the seals to fail over time. To counteract this, Battelle has developed proprietary post-production treatment methods for Viton® O-rings that reduce the effect of high-pH, high-temperature exposure.
Researchers tested the treated seals at high-pH levels (pH-14) and high temperatures (180F). Treatment reduced property degradation by 40% for tensile strength and 66% for stiffness compared to untreated Viton® O-rings.
Because the treatment is applied after production, it is an easy and highly scalable method for increasing the durability and resistance of existing elastomer seals. It is also very cost-effective; the treated O-rings offer increased performance for Viton ™ elastomers.
Battelle funded this initial research internally in order to meet an urgent need for the oil & gas industry. They are now actively seeking industry collaborators to further develop and optimize the technology in preparation for future commercialization.
Is the oil & gas industry doing enough to protect critical assets from cybersecurity risks? Many experts think that the answer is no.
Oil & gas presents a tempting target for cyber hackers, terrorists and nation states. As infrastructure becomes more networked and more computerized, oil & gas companies are more vulnerable to attacks that damage critical infrastructure or slow or halt production. “Hacktivists” may seek to disrupt operations to protest development or draw attention to a political agenda. Terrorists may have broader goals, such as crippling the economy of a petro-dependent nation or destabilizing an oil-producing region. Highly organized cyber-criminals are attracted to capturing and selling the personal and financial data stored in large corporate databases for corporate espionage. Nation states (i.e. Russia, China and Iran) are continuously seeking opportunities to quietly infiltrate critical infrastructure around the world to ensure that their capabilities to conduct cyber warfare are ready should a change in the geopolitical status quo present a need for a covert or overt attack.
Cybersecurity researchers at Battelle have incorporated the National Institute of Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework for Critical Infrastructure into a Battelle-developed Cybersecurity Return on Investment Model to help oil & gas executives quantify enterprise-wide risk and determine the appropriate level of cybersecurity to protect key lines of business and industrial operations. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework for Critical Infrastructure offers three key elements:
The Battelle Cybersecurity Return on Investment Model uses the results of a fully applied and documented NIST Cybersecurity Framework to analyze the existing cybersecurity architecture of an organization in order to de-conflict multiple layers of security products, processes and cyber personnel activities. The re-aligned architecture enables organizations to re-focus precious cybersecurity budgets to put a laser focus on re-deploying cybersecurity tools and personnel to address the real and likely risk posed by potential adversaries. This re-balancing of the cyber architecture ensures the best ROI from every cybersecurity budget dollar.
Cyber risk has become a hot topic in corporate boardrooms in the oil & gas industry over the last few years, especially in the wake of highly publicized attacks such as the 2012 “Shamoon” attack on Saudi Aramco and the significant industrial control system Stuxnet attack on the Iranian nuclear material enrichment program. In 2014, The National Association of Corporate Directors issued “Cyber-Risk Oversight” guidelines as part of the Director’s Handbook Series to over 30,000 of their members. The guidelines outline five steps that all corporate boards should consider as they seek to enhance their oversight of cyber risk. The Cybersecurity Framework can help board members and CISOs ensure that they are taking “due care” against cyber risks and meeting their fiduciary obligations to customers and shareholders.
The integration of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Battelle Cybersecurity ROI Model and the NACP’s “Cyber-Risk Oversight” guidance was developed by Battelle cybersecurity researchers Brian Schulz and Kevin Stoffell. Mr. Schultz is an internationally recognized expert in cybersecurity standards, policy and risk management with over 25 years of program and technical leadership experience. He is the Technical Director of Cyber Architecture and Advisory Services of the Cyber Innovation Unit within Battelle. He will be presenting the concepts of the integration of the framework, model and guidance at the American Petroleum Institute Cybersecurity Conference and Expo in Houston this November. Kevin Stoffell is a nationally recognized cybersecurity architecture expert and has over 18 years of experience in information systems operations and information systems security in academia, military and commercial environments. He will be presenting the concepts of the Battelle Cybersecurity ROI Model at the same conference.
Battelle has long been a trusted research provider for the Department of Energy (DOE) and other government and private agencies with an interest in oil and gas exploration and production. We are pleased to announce our leadership role in these DOE projects, which seek to advance carbon storage technologies through collaborative research. These projects offer cross-cutting benefits to oil & gas stakeholders by enhancing knowledge of wellbore integrity and offshore subsurface resources.
DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected Battelle, along with our teaming partners (the West Virginia Geologic and Economic Survey and Core Energy, LLC), to conduct research into wellbore integrity in depleted oil & gas fields located in Michigan, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The Integrated Wellbore Integrity Analysis Program for CO2 Storage Applications project will research and validate a program to identify and characterize wellbore conditions in oil and gas wells based on analysis of well records, sustained casing pressure and field monitoring. The results will provide a practical program for addressing wellbore integrity issues for CO2storage applications. Total funding for the project is $1.5 million.
Battelle was selected by the DOE-NETL to lead the Mid-Atlantic U.S. Offshore Carbon Storage Resource Assessment Project. The project will assess the potential for carbon storage in deep geologic formations in the offshore mid-Atlantic coastal region from the Georges Banks through the Long Island Platform to the southern Baltimore Canyon Trough. This study will present the first assessment of storage resources in this large and important offshore area.
The geologic formations being studied include saline formations and depleted oil and natural gas fields. The research will use existing geologic and geophysical data to develop prospective resource estimates of the amount of carbon dioxide that can be safely stored in these formations.
The three-year, $4.8 million project, funded through NETL’s Carbon Storage program, is expected to begin in October. Collaborators include the State Geological Surveys of Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania; the United States Geological Survey-Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center; Rutgers University; Harvard University; Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University; Texas Bureau of Economic Geology; and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals & Energy.
Battelle Senior Research Leader and Institute Fellow Dr. Neeraj Gupta likes to go with the flow—the subsurface flow, that is. Over the last two decades, he has built his career around subsurface geology, hydrogeology and hydrodynamics. He is now one of the world’s leading authorities on deep geological carbon capture and storage (CCS).