Extension of PRMS Principles to Non-Hydrocarbon/Non-Traditional Situations

August 2022

The PRMS (Petroleum Resources Management System) has gained worldwide acceptance for the classification and categorization of petroleum reserves and resources, and it is recognized that the principles of the PRMS are beginning to be applied to substances other than hydrocarbons.

The OGRC (Oil & Gas Reserves Committee) has become aware of other situations where PRMS principles have been considered for, or even applied to, non-hydrocarbon situations. Examples include:

Gaseous Extraction:

  • Carbon Dioxide: There are numerous instances of naturally occurring carbon dioxide reservoirs that have been exploited as a source for improved oil recovery projects or other industrial uses.
  • Helium: In some areas, helium is found as a trace element in natural gas reservoirs and is extracted from the natural gas stream as part of the gas processing activities. In other areas, helium may be found associated with natural nitrogen accumulations, and the nitrogen reservoirs are produced in the same manner as natural gas to allow the helium to be extracted.
  • Hydrogen: Naturally occurring hydrogen reservoirs are currently being exploited and there is an increase in exploration efforts as demand for hydrogen increases.

Solution Extraction: 

  • Extraction of trace elements contained in brine solutions in aquifers, such as bromine or lithium. We are aware of situations where brines are produced to recover the trace amounts of such elements contained in the brines.

Geothermal Water/Heat Sources:

  • Naturally occurring hot water or steam sources are being produced for use in heating or electricity generation. In some cases, water is reinjected to be heated again to repeat the cycle. In these cases, the reservoir heat is the resource that is being extracted.

Synthetic Gas Production:

  • Underground coal seam gasification projects have been installed to convert the coal in situ to a synthetic gas that is produced to the surface. Depending on the process used, synthetic gas may be primarily methane, or it may be primarily hydrogen and carbon monoxide. 

In the cases of gaseous and solution extraction of resources from underground reservoirs, the fundamental physics and processes used mirror those applicable in the oil and gas industry.

In the case of geothermal production, the water/steam production and the depletion of heat from the reservoir follow general reservoir engineering principles.

In the case of underground coal gasification, PRMS principles can be applied in a manner similar to what is commonly done for synthetic crude oil projects in oil shale/bitumen mining situations. 

The OGRC believes that there is a reasonable foundation for the application of PRMS principles to situations such as those described above, considering the similarities in exploration, evaluation, and exploitation processes throughout the life-cycle of a project.  

SPE/OGRC does not object to the application of the PRMS to these situations that result in the extraction of non-hydrocarbon resources, as long as it is made clear that while such application is outside the scope of the PRMS, PRMS principles have been followed, while involving other subject matter expert parties as appropriate, and applied as though the extracted resources were considered as petroleum.

Any new Resource Management System framework developed based upon the PRMS will need approval from SPE and the Oil and Gas Reserves Committee (OGRC). Please contact permissions if you have any questions.