SAIMC


SAIMC: Johannesburg branch

July 2014 SAIMC

At the June Technology Evening, the Johannesburg branch hosted Paulo de Sousa Gomes from Schneider Electric who enlightened us on ‘The Shale Gas Revolution’.

Eric Carter (right) thanks Paulo after the presentation.
Eric Carter (right) thanks Paulo after the presentation.

Shale gas is natural gas that is found trapped within shale formations. Shale gas has become an increasingly important source of natural gas in the United States since the start of this century, and interest has spread to potential gas shales in the rest of the world. The method deployed to mine this shale gas is a process called fracking. Induced hydraulic fracturing is a technique in which a liquid (in most cases water) is mixed with sand and chemicals and the resultant mixture is injected at high pressure into a wellbore. This creates small fractures in the deep rock formations, typically less than 1 mm wide, along which gas, petroleum and brine may migrate to the well. When hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, small grains of proppant (sand or aluminium oxide) hold these fractures open once the rock achieves equilibrium.

The technique is very common in wells for shale gas, tight gas, tight oil, coal seam gas and hard rock wells. Data collected by the Energy Information Administration agency of the United States Department of Energy indicate South Africa as the eighth potential shale gas producer in terms of reserves. This is a possible game changer for South Africa, and could transform South Africa’s energy landscape, but it has also sparked widespread debate in lieu of fear of contamination of the underground water supply.

Paulo also commented on the automation and processes involved in the production of shale gas. One of the challenges in bringing wells to production is that the amount of information to be managed is huge. Reconfiguring the control and management system is a mammoth task, so Schneider has come up with a ‘Shale Gas Factory’ approach, so that systems are self-configuring.

The meeting was well attended with a lengthy Q & A session afterwards. The branch thanks Paulo for his valued and informative presentation.

Other news

The JHB branch will be hosting the SAIMC Annual Golf Day on 8 August. Please contact Roxanne on 086 177 6 237 or roxannewnip@mweb.co.za

The branch also undertook a site visit to the Airplane Factory on Friday 23 May which was well attended.



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