American Oil and Gas Reporter - February 2018 - 43

SpecialReport: Multiphase Oil Recovery

Alternative Uses
In areas without infrastructure, Helms
says North Dakota's operators are finding
other ways to use natural gas and NGLs.
"We have a robust industry of well-site
NGL recovery units," he illustrates. "These
small, portable units are installed on multiwell pads, where they remove liquids to
be trucked off site and sold. To the extent
they can, operators use the remaining
ethane and methane to fuel production
equipment, heat hydraulic fracturing fluids
and run electric generators."
Some operators are experimenting
with techniques that inject stranded gas

FIGURE 2
North Dakota NGL Take-Away Pipeline Capacity
1,200,000
1,000,000
Barrels a Day

800,000
600,000
400,000
200,000
0
A1
M 2
-1
F- 3
14
J15
D
-1
N 5
-1
O 6
-1
S- 7
1
A- 8
1
J- 9
20
J2
M 1
-2
A- 2
2
M 3
-2
F- 4
2
J- 5
2
D 6
-2
N 6
-2
O 7
-2
S- 8
2
A- 9
30
J3
J- 1
3
M 2
-3
A- 3
34

will take unfractionated NGLs from the
Riverview terminal in eastern Montana
to Bushton, Ks. The company says it expects the pipeline to enter service by the
end of 2019.
Elk County will have a capacity of
240,000 barrels a day, Kringstad notes.
He says that will be enough to meet industry demand until 2024, if production
follows the agency's more conservative
production forecast. However, under its
more optimistic projection, the pipeline
would reach capacity in 2020 (Figure 2).
ONEOK has the option to increase capacity to 400,000 bbl/d by adding additional pumps, an upgrade Kringstad predicts will be necessary under either forecast. In the more optimistic case, he estimates the expansion will meet demand
only until 2024.
The industry will need additional dry
gas transmission lines, Helms adds. "North
Dakota has enough dry export transmission
pipeline capacity to handle today's demands, but within the next seven-10 years,
our two export pipelines will be full," he
says. "In the best scenario, it takes three
years to permit an interstate pipeline.
With five-seven years being more common, now is the time to start talking to
transmission companies about the next
big project."
The United States has abundant natural
gas supplies, so Helms says future transmission lines may take North Dakota's
gas north to Canada, where it could be
shipped to the coasts and converted to
liquefied natural gas for export to Asian
and European markets.

Northern Border

WBI Transmission

Aux Sable Prairie Rose

ONEOK Bakken NGL

Alliance Tioga Lateral

Vantage

ONEOK Elk Creek

Elk Creek Expansion (TBD)

Case 1: All Captured NGLs

Case 2: All Captured NGLs

to enhance oil recovery, Helms adds.
"There are two natural gas injection pilots.
One will inject the gas into vertical wells
that are near horizontal wells, and then
monitor the wells' response. The other
will apply a technique similar to one
EOG Resources has been using in the
Eagle Ford-a huff-and-puff process that
involves injecting a set volume into a
well, leaving it to soak for a period of
time, and then producing it back."
In the Eagle Ford, Helms says the
huff-and-puff method has improved unconventional well production significantly.
He references a 15-well field test that
began in 2014. It increased each well's
production by 30-70 percent. "It will be
at least a year before we know whether
the process will work here," he says.
"However, we are excited. If it pans out,
it should be applicable to most Bakken
and Three Forks fields.
"In our efforts to relieve capacity constraints on export pipelines, we are leaving
no stone unturned," Helms concludes.
He points out that the North Dakota Department of Commerce is talking with
companies who may be able to use ethane
to make plastics. In addition, one of the
gas injection pilots is exploring whether

injecting ethane improves recovery, a
practice that could reduce the state's
export volumes by 20 percent.
Hydrocarbon Emissions
Even in areas with robust pipeline
networks, operators must work to control
hydrocarbon emissions, notes Mike Conder, a senior staff technical adviser at
Bonanza Creek Energy. "In the DenverJulesburg Basin, regulations are driving
operators to eliminate as many volatile
organic compounds as possible," he says.
These regulations are part of a broader
effort to meet the National Ambient Air
Quality Standard for ozone, which forms
when VOCs interact with nitrogen oxides
in sunlight. Noting that the standard is
difficult to meet, especially when much
of the ozone blows in from other areas,
Conder predicts the state gradually will
ask the industry to meet even lower VOC
limits.
"As Denver-Julesburg Basin operators
have looked for ways to address VOC
emissions, one of the biggest changes is
a move away from putting oil tanks on
individual wells," Conder reports. "Instead,
each well at each well site has a separator
that breaks the production stream into
oil, natural gas and water. These compoFEBRUARY 2018 43



American Oil and Gas Reporter - February 2018

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