Southern Unconventional Resources Collaboratory of Excellence

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The Tuscaloosa Marine Shale is an unconventional play located between Central Louisiana and Southwest Mississippi. It consists of about 7.4 million acres of marine shale containing fine-grained, organic rich sedimentary silts and clays. It has been estimated to have the recoverable potential of 7 billion barrels of oil. We are working in collaboration with several academic and industry partners which includes the Department of Energy, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, The University of Southern Mississippi, Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Hydraulic fracturing is the most viable way of unlocking this unconventional play. More accurate prediction of hydraulic fracture geometry is required not only for the optimization of hydraulic fracturing operations to get higher economic benefits, but also for improved environmental protection and social license to run fracturing operations. The incorporation of heterogeneity in terms of natural fractures and laminations is critical to enhance the prediction of fracture geometry.

The main aim of this project is to determine the role of natural fractures and laminations on fracture propagation using indirect tensile experiment and Digital Image Correlations (DIC) technique. These experiments will be conducted on laminated sandstone samples, preserved shale and limestone samples with lamination and natural fractures in dry and saturated conditions. The results of DIC predict fracture initiation and propagation in complex geological formations under indirect tensile tests. Besides the analysis of fracture pattern using DIC technique, tensile strength of variety of samples are analyzed.

The experimental results on tensile strength and tensile fracture pattern will be applied to the large scale simulation of shale reservoirs with the incorporation of field data. The final results of this study will describe the effect of natural fracture or lamination bonding and orientation on the development of induced fractures in unconventional formations.

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Elastomer Sealing Materials and Cement Systems Project

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The primary objective of this project is to study "fitness for service" of the sealing assemblies and cement systems in shallow well designs by conducting scaled laboratory testing, leakage modelling and risk assessment. This project will conduct research to assess best practices and develop recommendations to BSEE and industry on the development of industry standards, regulations, and operational procedures to ensure that current cement system and sealing assemblies are "fit for service" to minimize Loss of Well Control incidents in shallow offshore applications.

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QNRF Project on Carbonate Rocks

We are investigating the lost circulation properties of carbonate rocks in this research.

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