University of Calgary: New project to improve monitoring of fracking
CALGARY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwire) -- 11/08/12 -- A $1.86 million joint
research project at the University of Calgary and University of
Alberta will help geophysicists and engineers listen to hydraulic
Fracking is the technique of injecting fluid into cracks in
underground rock formations, forcing them to open further and
allowing additional oil and gas to flow out so it can be more easily
By using sensors called geophones lowered deep into a borehole to
record ground vibrations, University of Calgary and University of
Alberta scientists can now pinpoint and analyze rock fracturing as it
occurs. This microseismic monitoring is one of the few techniques
available to track and chart the growth of fractures during hydraulic
fracture treatments. Information gathered with microseismic
monitoring is used to improve the process and detect any fractures
that occur outside the zone of interest.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
(NSERC) is providing 50% of the funding for this three-year, $1.86
million initiative while 10 Canadian industry partners will
contribute the remainder.
"Collaborating with Alberta's oil and gas sector to investigate key
industry issues, expanding international understanding of new
monitoring techniques and offering students an invaluable opportunity
for hands on learning through this partnership between the University
of Calgary and the University of Alberta will bring economic benefits
today and tomorrow and safeguard against unexpected environmental
effects," said Ed McCauley, vice-president (research) for the
University of Calgary.
David Eaton, a professor of geophysics in the University of Calgary's
Department of Geoscience, is the principal investigator for the
project while Mirko van der Baan, a physicist from the University of
Alberta, will be the co-investigator. Both researchers specialize in
microseismic monitoring, a rapidly developing technology that draws
from several areas of research including applied geophysics and
Eaton is excited that "the NSERC Collaborative Research and
Development grant fosters unique university-industry synergies
incorporating all aspects of microseismic tec
hnology, from data
acquisition in the field to state-of-the-art computer visualization."
Lorne Babiuk, VP Research at the University of Alberta, shares
Eaton's excitement. "Alberta's resource industries are able to
connect to breakthrough research and the best new technologies
through projects like this when top research groups at U of C and the
U of A collaborate on issues of strategic importance to all
Canadians. This research will further advance the important work
being done in Alberta on energy and the environment," Babiuk said.
The University of Calgary is the only university in the world with a
borehole microseismic system, designed by the Canadian-based company
ESG Solutions and purchased with funding from the Canada Foundation
for Innovation and Alberta Innovates. This unique capability allows
researchers to design experiments and test concepts otherwise too
costly for industry specialists to execute on their own. It also
provides superb training for students as they acquire hands-on
experience with all aspects of a microseismic monitoring program.
"This fieldwork brought to life many theoretical concepts learned
during my undergraduate degree and let me apply them in real
situations," said Andres Puente, a recent University of Calgary
Department of Geoscience graduate who helped install the equipment.
"This will be a real asset in my career as a geophysicist."
In addition to the NSERC grant, 10 partners including oil and gas
companies, mining industries, and microseismic service providers, are
providing funding and working closely with researchers to find
innovative solutions to industry needs.
"Microseismic monitoring plays a pivotal role in helping to better
understand the effects on the reservoir and the surrounding rocks of
our hydraulic fracture completions and ConocoPhillips is pleased to
participate in this university-industry initiative," said Larry
Matthews, a geophysicist with ConocoPhillips, one of 10 sponsoring
companies involved in the project.
Who: David Eaton, a professor of geophysics in the University of
Calgary's Department of Geoscience and lead investigator in the $1.86
million microseismic monitoring program.
What: Eaton will be presenting at the 2012 Gussow Conference in
Banff, Alberta and will be available to speak to media about his
research by phone.
When: Thursday, November 8, 2012 from 10 a.m. until noon he will be
available by phone only. To arrange a phone interview please contact
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five research universities by 2016, grounded in innovative learning
and teaching and fully integrated with the community of Calgary. For
more information, visit ucalgary.ca.
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