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"The results will ultimately help develop better pressure management strategies for enhancing unconventional hydrocarbon recovery." Most of U.S. natural gas is hidden go here deep within shale reservoirs. Low shale porosity and permeability make recovering natural gas in tight reservoirs challenging, especially in the late stage of well life. The pores are miniscule -- typically less than five nanometers -- and poorly understood. Understanding the hydrocarbon retention mechanisms deep underground is critical to increase methane recovering efficiency. Pressure management is a cheap and effective tool available to control production efficiency that can be readily adjusted during well operation -- but the study's multi-institution research team discovered a trade-off. This team, including the lead author, Chelsea Neil, also of Los Alamos, integrated molecular dynamics simulations with novel in situ high-pressure small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) to examine methane behavior in Marcellus shale in the Appalachian basin, the nation's largest natural gas field, to better understand gas transport and recovery as pressure is modified to extract the gas. The investigation focused on interactions between methane and the organic content (kerogen) in rock that stores a majority of hydrocarbons. The study's findings indicate that while high pressures are beneficial for methane recovery from larger pores, dense gas is trapped in smaller, common shale nanopores due to kerogen deformation. For the first time, they present experimental evidence that this deformation exists and proposed a methane-releasing pressure range that significantly impacts methane recovery. These insights help optimize strategies to boost natural gas production as well as better understand fluid mechanics.


The U.S. Geological Survey reported in September that Long Island groundwater, which 3 million people rely on, is much more contaminated by saltwater than it previously theorized. One test near Jamaica Bay in Long Island’s Nassau County showed water nearly as salty as the ocean. Ongoing overpumping of groundwater for irrigation, drinking water, and other urban uses makes it worse, the study warned, by creating vacuums for seawater to fill. Frederick Stumm, the government hydrologist who led the research, lamented New Yorkers’ “false sense of security” about the saltwater intrusion caused by overpumping compounded by higher seas and more storms. The lines show the underground reach of saltwater into southern Nassau County. Below these lines, chloride level in the groundwater are at least 5,000 milligrams per liter, 250 times higher than the drinking water guidance from the U.S. EPA Credit: Adam Marton / University of Maryland “We’re not in as great of shape as we thought we were,” he told the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland. Around the country, scientists are sounding the alarm about the saltwater intrusion. But the responses on the ground are sometimes inadequate and may not be sustainable because they run up against economic pressures from development, farming, or tourism.
2020-12-01 / Posted in