Research and Development

Icon Energy Limited (Icon) is an innovative company which is at the forefront of advancement of technology in the oil and gas industry in Australia. Icon has interests in both conventional and unconventional resources within Australia. The company has a diverse portfolio of prime acreage in the Cooper/Eromanga, Surat and Gippsland Basins. Icon’s ATP 855 tenement is situated in the Nappamerri Trough, within the Cooper Basin, which is highly prospective for unconventional natural gas resources. It is this advancement of technology which will allow Icon to develop these resources which conventional technology is unable to economically achieve.

An example of Icon’s advancement of technology is a Research and Development (R&D) project it is currently undertaking to design and develop new methods and techniques that enable gas to be extracted efficiently from the deep Nappamerri Trough, located in the Cooper basin, in southwest Queensland. Furthermore, the environment of deposition (lacustrine, or non-marine), the deep trough and thick gas saturated sedimentary section of over 1300m in thickness, the extremely high temperatures, the high pore pressures (reservoir pressures) and the high compressive stresses, make this basin completely unique with no known direct analogue anywhere in the world. These critical factors make this a world leading project and will only be successfully achieved through the advancement of current technology.

Additionally, Icon is also seeking to develop a conceptual resource model of unconventional shale gas and basin-centred gas (tight gas sands), and developing a range of methodologies and techniques to extract hydrocarbons from the thick gas saturated section.

Areas within this projects which are being researched include:

  • Developing a conceptual geological model that defines the basin to enable the development of efficient extraction of hydrocarbons from the thick gas saturated section. This will involve the investigation and integration of a wide variety of new data.
  • Defining further the different play types of shale and basin centred gases that are present within this unconventional basin, establishing a hierarchy and knowledge of the potentially best methodology to extract the resource in each of the play types.
  • Design and development of new well designs to test hypotheses and acquire new data, including the design and testing of vertical wells.
  • Developing techniques to overcome the unique challenge of operating at significant depths, temperatures and pressures expected to be encountered within the Nappamerri Trough, including securing fit for purpose drilling rigs, evaluation and stimulation equipment capable of operating in such extreme conditions.
  • Experimenting with different hydraulic stimulation designs in different trial wells across the permit and in different geological horizons.
  • Determining the best conceptual zones to stimulate given the extensive thickness of gas saturated rocks that are present within the trough and the large number of possible horizons. This will require a conceptual understanding of a wide variety of data, including (but not limited to) rock type and composition, mineralogy, gas distribution, variation in gas composition, rock mechanics, stress fields, pore pressure and temperature profile.

Icon, as a related component of the project, has undertaken extensive background research, literature reviews and industry collaboration prior. Given the limited amounts of technically relevant information currently available, the techniques and methods for gas extraction being developed by Icon are considered by industry as a significant advancement of the current knowledge pertaining to unconventional shale gas.