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Tight Energy Resources

Tight Energy Resources

Locked tightly in layers of rock, petroleum resources are becoming harder to efficiently extract. Similarly, the development of our geothermal industry is hampered by our limited understanding of rock fractures and fluid movement underground.

Many of the petroleum deposits around the world that can be easily accessed have already been exploited. Many oil, gas and geothermal resources are often locked tightly within multiple layers of rock which makes them much more difficult to access and extract.

This poses a challenge for the oil and gas industry which is under pressure to maximise efficiency, minimise cost and maximise well production.

A similar challenge is faced in the geothermal industry, where ‘unconventional’ heat sources have been identified but drilling into and engineering the reservoir of hot water and steam is a massive technical challenge.

Our Impact

IMER is leading interdisciplinary teams that address these challenges by:

  • investigating fractures, faults and flow— known as the structural permeability—of different oil, gas and geothermal environments to aid exploration and extraction;
  • mapping and monitoring the permeability of target areas to help predict the best methods for accessing the resources;
  • developing new  technology that helps keeps fractures or reservoirs open for resource extraction;
  • developing new tools to monitor geothermal, shale gas and coal seam gas production in 4D;
  • refining and developing new ‘sweep’ technology to make sure that all of the petroleum is lifted and separated from the rock to maximise extraction.

Our Interdisciplinary Teams

IMER hosts the South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research, where experts in geomechanics, geophysics, stratigraphy, statistics, geochemistry and resource modelling – to name a few – are all working together to address these challenges.

Premeability map

Australian Structural Permeability Map Project

IMER researchers are developing the first continent-scale map of structural permeability in Australia's energy-rich basins.

Magnetotelluris: deep-imaging geophysical technique

4D Magnetotellurics Program

Magnetotelluris (MT) is a deep-imaging geophysical technique that measures the electrical resistivity of the earth in order to map geological structures and detect the movement of subsurface liquid. Read more Link to external website about how the team are using this technique in shale gas and coal seam gas fields.

Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources

The University of Adelaide
SA 5005


T: +61 8 8313 1448