Exploration, Drilling and Production
Natural gas exploration involves different techniques to determine the presence of natural gas or oil deposits underground. Exploration techniques include:
- Seismic Surveys
Involves sending high energy waves through the ground and measure how long they take to get back to the surface. Through seismic surveys, companies can generate 3D images to identify oil and gas reservoirs below the surface.
- Exploration wells
Drilled at sites where oil and gas is likely present. An analysis of rock samples indicates the presence of oil/gas.
Drilling occurs once an oil or gas deposit has been located through the exploration phase. Advancements in drilling technology have increased the efficiency and success rate for drilling natural gas wells. Factors in locating a drill site include the nature of the potential formation to be drilled, the characteristics of the subsurface geology, and the depth and size of the target deposit.
Production - The phase of oil and gas operations that involves bringing gas and/or natural gas liquids (NGLs) to the surface, including activities at the well site related to separation and storage.
Gathering lines are placed underground to collect the gas and NGLs from the well fields for transport to processing operations. Compressors are usually located along the lines to keep the gas and NGLs moving through the pipeline.
Processes involved in taking raw natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) from underground formations and processing these into (1) pipeline quality gas and (2) commercial chemicals/gases for use in manufacturing.
Processing - to remove water and other impurities from natural gas stream
Fractionation - to separate out NGLs, including butane, propane, ethane and pentane
It takes a wide variety of additional businesses to support the oil/natural gas industry, including manufacturing, supply, transportation and service operations.