Exploring gas by Prashant Modi
The process of locating deposits of methane gas has changed significantly over the course of the last two decades, as a result of advancements in technology. Prashant Modi says that when the industry was still in its infancy, the only way in which methane could be found was through the search for evidence on the ground’s surface of formations underground. Any companies who wished to look for methane had to painstakingly search for seepages for months on end, often with no success. The entire process was long, costly and hugely inefficient. But as the demand for methane increased over the last twenty years, so too did the necessity for a more accurate method of exploration. As a result of this, new technology was developed which made the process far more effective.
At the core of the exploration process, specialists such as engineers, geophysicists and geologists will spend a good deal of their time analysing the structure of soil where deposits may be located, so that they can determine if hydrocarbons are present. Complex tests, such as seismic analysis are used in this process.
Once these tests have confirmed that a deposit of methane is present underground, the drilling experts will begin to dig a well down to the area where the gas is believed to be located. According to Prashant Modi, the decision as to whether or not to drill will depend on a number of factors, including the financial viability of the process. Drilling costs a great deal of money, and there is always the risk that the methane deposit will not be of a large enough quantity to warrant the money spent on searching for it.
If however, drilling does take place and this stage proves to be successful, the production process will then begin – this involves the extraction and processing of the methane. Delays often occur at this stage, as there is usually quite a lot of ‘red tape’ to go through in order to gain permission to begin production. Licences must be obtained by the energy company from the government of the country where the deposits are located and Prashant Modi says that this paperwork can take several months (and in some cases, years) to come through.