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Oil & Natural Gas Supply


ENHANCED OIL RECOVERY (eor)

The past and ongoing research into enhanced oil recovery (EOR) can be roughly divided into four general areas:

—Gas injection, including CO2, N2, NGL, flue

—Chemical, including
surfactant, surfactant with polymer, surfactant with foam

—Thermal, including convention steam, steam assisted gravity drainage, cyclic injection, and in-situ combustion

—Conformance and related| issues. 

Each area has its own history, potential, technology, opportunities and obstacles. The obstacles can be categorized as technical, economic, and legal/regulatory. Each area is needed to maximize the production potential of the domestic fields. The “prize” is quite large, however. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 175 billion barrels have been produced in the U.S. (excluding the deep and ultra-deep water Gulf of Mexico. However, from those same fields 400 billion barrels are “stranded” after traditional primary and secondary oil recovery. This compares to an estimated 21 billion barrels of proven reserves, so the opportunities are enormous.
 


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Technology Tidbit of the Month

Maximize EOR with Foam

A study recently released by researchers at Rice University, promotes the use of foam to maximize EOR chemical flooding. Tests were conducted using an experimental rig to pump foam mimicking the flow paths deep underground in low permeability formations. The foam worked better under low permeability conditions than standard methods using water, gas and surfactant injection or any combination of the three techniques. The experiments allowed visualization of how the various fluids moved into the rock fractures and pushed oil out. The work was conducted by Rice's Sibani Lisa Biswal and George Hirasaki.

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