Emerald Operating Company

Emerald Operating Company (EOC) is a privately held Colorado S Corporation. Its primary business is owning and operating oil and gas wells in the Rocky Mountain region.  

After 26+ years of operation in traditional oil and gas, EOC is now focused on renewable energy and “farming it” to establish the first renewable and sustainable hydrocarbon on the planet.

Emerald and Shallow Gas Wells 

In 2009, Emerald owned an interest in and operated about 170 shallow gas wells in northeast Wyoming. Low natural gas prices, occurring over the last decade, forced EOC to plug and abandon over 100 of these wells in 2013-14.

Reports for those remaining unplugged shallow gas wells indicated a stranded gas resource of greater than 11 Billion Cubic Feet (1 BCF = 1,000,000 MCF). This is a significant asset to retrieve and monetize.

To conventionally produce these shallow gas wells means dealing with a lot of water. One must lift, transport, and treat many millions of barrels of underground water, allowing the hydrostatic pressure to lower in the coal seam which then releases the methane that’s absorbed the coals.

Dealing with and treating potable water is an expensive and wasteful process. The economics of producing this stranded gas in the standard way is not feasible. And so began Emerald’s search for a different way to deliver this stranded gas.

An Innovative Approach

Shallow gas wells are also known as coal bed methane (CBM) wells. CBM gas is biogenic in origin. That means it’s generated by an assemblage of bacteria living in the coals and formation waters.  

Before a well is de-watered, the vast majority of methane and carbon dioxide produced by the bacteria get absorbed by the coals. Pumping water out and off the coals (to be able to access the methane) destroys the habitat of methane-producing bacteria. Nutrients in the water feed the bacteria, and the bacteria are what make the methane.

In 2014, Emerald began a project to develop a passive, non-mechanical, downhole, gas-water separator tool. Using the existing 75+ shallow gas wells as a testing platform, this tool has proven to effectively lower operational expenses. 

After several iterations and years of field trials, we have designed a successful tool and have been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent office. This down-hole tool lowers operational expenses on shallow gas wells by approximately 80%. With this tool in place, Emerald is closer to reaching its goal of establishing the first sustainable and organic hydrocarbon on the planet.

Moving Forward

As a next step, EOC has tested the feasibility of injecting non-hazardous solutions (“Amendments”) into dormant/uneconomic shallow gas wells. The goal was to stimulate methane generation by nourishing the bacteria with these Amendments. The field feasibility trials proved very successful. The injected Amendment will be a diluted mixture of formation water and non-hazardous, naturally-occurring bacteria nutrients—a perfect cocktail for these bacteria. As a result, EOC utilizes a proprietary process called BIOGEM™️ that is the outcome of the research, development, and field testing described above. It includes the design services and downhole application of the Amendments, as well as the method to produce the newly generated methane.

Many published studies document the possibility of this bacteria-enhancing process. But these are lab-based studies. Emerald will begin the field phase of the project during the summer of 2019 and is currently applying for injection permits.  

More about Emerald:

Since its start in 1993, EOC has an ownership interest in oil and gas properties in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. At the same time, EOC operated oil and gas properties in both Wyoming and Montana, as well as participated and operated both conventional (vertically drilled) oil & gas plays, unconventional coal bed methane (CBM) plays in Wyoming and participated in various horizontal plays in Montana and North Dakota (Shaunavon and Bakken formations).