WMU News

State's oil and gas firms to benefit from new information resources

April 9, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- The latest in exploration and production information needed by Michigan's oil and gas producers will be readily available through a new facility at Western Michigan University.

A new $89,781 contract between WMU and the national office of the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council will fund the establishment of a Michigan branch of the PTTC's Midwest Region. The PTTC Michigan Basin Center will house the latest in exploration and production information about Michigan's resources and will be managed by Dr. William B. Harrison III, WMU professor of geology and director of the Michigan Basin Core Research Laboratory.

Formed in 1994 and funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy, the PTTC serves as a national clearinghouse to identify and transfer exploration and production technologies to help domestic producers reduce costs, improve operating efficiency, increase ultimate recovery, enhance compliance with environmental laws and add new oil and gas reserves.

"While the state's gas industry has recently enjoyed renewed vitality, " Harrison says, "many old oil fields have been abandoned, oil production continues to decline and independent companies are retaining fewer geologists. A Michigan-based center to systematically facilitate the transfer of advanced technologies, current information and geologic and engineering data to these companies is timely and vital."

Independent companies drill 85 percent of all wells in the United States, Harrison says. They also produce about 40 percent of domestic crude oil and more than two-thirds of U.S. natural gas production.

For the Michigan PTTC branch, Harrison and his staff have just created a new Internet site, which is linked with the national PTTC site as well as other sites detailing regional and national oil and gas resources. The new site will focus on information specific to the oil and gas industry in the Michigan Basin.

Other activities supported by the new funding this year will include two workshops to inform industry personnel about new developments and technology as well as a periodic newsletter that will be sent to members of the industry.

The PTTC grant will fund the first year of operation of the center, which will be located in West Hall in the same area that houses the Core Laboratory. The center is part of the PTTC's Midwest Region, which is housed with the Illinois State Geological Survey in Champaign, Ill. There are nine other regional sites across the nation.

Harrison has been director of the Michigan Basin Core Research Laboratory since 1983. The facility, part of WMU's Department of Geology, has served as a repository of cores and cuttings from industry drilling and as a resource for field and reservoir data, logs, drillers' reports, scout information and geochemical data.

Harrison says that in addition to the information already available through the Core Laboratory, the contract with the PTTC will provide access to important information from around the country.

"We'll be furnishing the industry with both existing information and details on the very latest technologies as soon as that information becomes available," Harrison says.

Harrison has participated in research projects involving the development of new technology aimed at reviving production in the state's abandoned oil fields. A horizontal drilling project in which he was involved was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and resulted in successful production of a new well in Montcalm County's Crystal Field, an oil field considered depleted to users of conventional well-drilling technology. That oil well has been producing about 80 barrels of oil per day since October 1995.

Working with Harrison will be Paul A. Daniels, a registered professional geologist with the firm Earth Resources International LC of Kalamazoo. Daniels is a WMU alumnus and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Geology. He has more than 25 years of experience in both foreign and domestic gas and oil exploration and operations.

Harrison says Daniels' expertise and industry affiliations will be used to help plan and present workshops for Michigan oil and gas producers, zeroing in on technologies that can help cut costs and enhance production. He already has begun soliciting input from members of the Michigan oil and gas industry to help determine the focus of this year's workshops.

For more information about the new center, persons may contact Harrison at (616) 387-8633 or view the Michigan PTTC Web site at <www.wmich.edu/geology/corelab/pttc.htm>.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland; cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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