Reducing Risks & Impacts Associated with Extreme Offshore Systems

Developing critical data for predicting in situ conditions required for assessing risk, borehole/drilling design, loss of control conditions in deepwater & ultra-deepwater settings

Assessing Risks and the Potential for Environmental Impacts for Deepwater and Ultra-Deepwater Regions: Building on DOE’s core competency in simulating and predicting the behavior of engineered-natural systems, NETL researchers are developing a new multi-component model tying the subsurface, wellbore, and water column into a single integrated assessment modeling (IAM) tool. To effectively evaluate and reduce risks associated with extreme offshore hydrocarbon development, the IAM tool will utilize subsurface to shore datasets which are being synthesized and integrated from a combination of existing data sources to new interpretations for the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The targeted datasets are discussed in the recently released Integration of Spatial Data to Support Risk and Impact Assessments for Deep and Ultra-deepwater Hydrocarbon Activities in the Gulf of Mexico TRS publication on NETL’s website, and an interactive database of these data layers will be released throughout 2013 and 2014 through NETL’s Energy Data Exchange.  Ultimately, this project will provide a coordinated platform (GOM IAM and EDXinsight) to allow for the independent, rapid, and science-based prediction of offshore hydrocarbon risks and potential impacts across the GOM.One product of the Offshore IAM effort is a new modeling tool created by scientists at the NETL that is designed to support spill prevention and provide a greater understanding of how hydrocarbon leaks from all sources are transported throughout offshore systems.  The Blowout and Spill Occurrence Model, or BLOSOM, can rapidly simulate offshore spills and leaks in hypothetical, “what if” scenarios. The resulting data from BLOSOM, combined with other tools in the Energy Department’s offshore hydrocarbon risk-assessment toolkit (Variable Grid Method tool, Cumulative Spatial Impact Layers tool, and Subsurface Trend Analysis approach, are being developed and used by NETL researchers to support future incidents by identifying spatial trends and pinpointing knowledge and technology gaps that contribute to a higher risk of spills.  All of these components can be used individually as well as together, and contribute to the Energy Department’s large, integrated risk-assessment modeling effort for offshore hydrocarbon systems, which aims to reduce uncertainty and improve science-based decision-making for stakeholders involved in supplying safe and reliable domestic energy.  As each part of the IAM matures, products from this research are being distributed for public consumption and use via the "research products" tab from the Offshore Resources homepage, including publications, tools, data and other resources. udwgraphic_500px

Example output from and workflow of NETL's BLOSOM:





Quantifying Complex Fluid-Phase Properties Under High Pressure/HighTemperature (HPHT) Conditions: NETL is working to improve the accuracy of thermodynamic and transport properties models under HPHT conditions, allowing for better characterization of reservoir fluids and the dynamics of these fluids during extraction. Improved models will decrease uncertainty associated with fluid quantity and flow at and near the borehole. Accurate understanding of the reservoir and associated well behavior is an important component of our ability to predict the behavior of wells under both controlled and uncontrolled scenarios. The current lack of information and understanding of these extreme environments inhibits our ability to predict well behavior and develop methods for safely handling fluids under these conditions. To date, NETL researchers have expanded the density and viscosity databases for hydrocarbon compounds to span HPHT conditions. Their results have been integrated with existing lower pressure and temperature data, resulting in a comprehensive database. This work is reviewed in the High Temperature, High Pressure Equation of State Density Correlations and Viscosity Correlations TRS publication on NETL’s website, and an interactive database and associated application to interface with the database.  The preliminary databases have been released through NETL’s Energy Data Exchange. Density Cell Facility at NETL used to Measure Crude Oil and Gas Densities