DNA Sequencing: A New Diagnostic Tool for Shale Wells

Topics: Petrophysics/geophysics Reservoir characterization Shale oil
Graphic courtesy of Biota.
For the application of production profiling, same-well comparisons have shown that microbial DNA sequencing is about as accurate as chemical tracers, and it provides usable data over the life of the well, not just the life of the tracer. 

For the past 2 decades, the use of DNA sequencing technology has largely been relegated to the domains of criminal forensics and the healthcare industry. The company betting that the shale industry soon will join that list is Biota Technology, a California-based startup.

Founded in 2013, Biota says DNA sequencing technology can help maximize production in horizontal shale wells by directing operators where to place the wells, and how they should be completed.

“We are addressing questions that our customers can’t answer today across multiple scales: Where are the sweet spots and producing intervals for each stage, what is the fracture height for each well, and what is the connectivity between multiple wells?” said Ajay Kshatriya, chief executive officer of Biota.

Biota so far has used its technology on 60 wells operated by six different US producers. Its novel approach involves analyzing the DNA of tiny microbes that coexist with the oil, water, and rock in the subsurface. There are hundreds of thousands of different microbes living inside a formation but certain species are associated with hydrocarbons tend to stand out.

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DNA Sequencing: A New Diagnostic Tool for Shale Wells

Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer

25 April 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 5