Make Marcellus Drilling Better – by Using a Math Formula?!

Can you actually use a mathematical formula to figure out better ways to plan how to drill shale gas wells? It turns out the answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!” A chemical engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, along with several Ph.D. students have, working with EQT, pioneered research that figured out how to turn 14,000 water truck trips to a well site into 1,400 trips–an “order of magnitude” difference. That is a big deal in the drilling industry. Using mathematical formulas–something called “mixed-integer optimization”–Professor Ignacio Grossmann and the other researchers tackled how to make processes in the shale gas industry more efficient. They published a paper in the AIChE Journal in 2016 titled, “Strategic Planning, Design and Development of the Shale Gas Supply Chain Network” (full copy below). The paper “presents a mixed-integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) model to optimally determine the number of wells to drill at every location, the size of gas processing plants, the section and length of pipelines for gathering raw gas and delivering processed gas and by-products, the power of gas compressors, and the amount of freshwater required from reservoirs for drilling and hydraulic fracturing so as to maximize the economics of the project.” Er, right. As you can tell, it’s complex. But it’s also very interesting and relevant for drillers and others in the industry, which is why we bring it to you. Below is a quick summary/overview of the paper, a video of Prof. Grossmann describing the research, and a copy of the paper itself…

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