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Spcl Rpt: Oilfield extraction beyond the last drop

by Indrajit Sen on Nov 16, 2016


A representational image of Halliburton’s water-flooding EOR technology.
A representational image of Halliburton’s water-flooding EOR technology.

On the basis of technology, the market in GCC can be broadly categorised as thermal EOR, gas or CO2 EOR, and chemical EOR. Thermal EOR technology consumes hot water and steam to stimulate the extraction of crude oil from the reservoir. Older oil wells in the Gulf, with heavy and viscous oil flow, are adopting this technique on a large scale. The commonly used steam injection methods are cyclic steam stimulation (CSS), steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), and steam flooding.

Gas injection-based EOR utilises CO2, therefore also resolving the issue of greenhouse gas disposal. Tightening environmental regulatory standards in the GCC to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are driving adoption of the gas-based EOR method. Gas EOR can be further categorised as nitrogen-, hydrogen-, or CO2-based. Chemical-injection EOR includes polymer-, surfactant solution-, alkali-, and microbial-based methods. One of the major technological trends of the GCC EOR market is to combine chemical EOR techniques with other technologies to derive maximum advantage.

Many Gulf countries are witnessing a shortage of gas; however, they have high subsidies for fuel, which alter the retail price of gas. Market players such as Glasspoint Solar have, therefore, developed solar steam generators for the oil and gas industry, to be used in EOR.

“These two valuable technologies (chemical and solar) have very different maturity. Chemical EOR has been used for decades to produce light to medium oil onshore. With minor adaptation and field pilot testing, it is ready to be used in the GCC. Its applicability has been extended recently to heavy oils,” according to Rob Hull and José Luis Mogollón of Halliburton.

“Currently, chemical EOR is starting to be deployed in offshore environments that contain two big challenges: limited space in the platforms, and the inter-well distance. These are being overcome with reduced-size, modular facilities and larger injection rates. The expectation is that, with the proper economic environment, offshore applications can flourish in the years to come,” the experts say.

“Solar EOR is a variation within thermal EOR that is new in the market. It uses the energy captured by panels to boil water that is injected as steam. Traditionally, the heat to boil the water is obtained by burning gas or oil. Using solar energy has environmental advantages and lower cost is expected, particularly with the climate characteristics of the GCC,” they state.

There has been much talk about whether, despite the increasing use of EOR technology, the regional industry’s methodology is on par with those in play in other global upstream markets. Experts maintain that while the EOR technology in use in the GCC is, in some ways, different from that used elsewhere, the regional industry stands to benefit from the adoption of techniques that have been proven in the US industry, for instance.

“Halliburton [aims] to meet the strictest environmental regulations and devote extraordinary efforts to develop sustainable offerings. Examples of this are FullCircle Cuttings Re-Injection (CRI); low-toxicity, biodegradable drilling muds (Accolade, Encore); sand production control (PetroGuard Advance Mesh); water production control (ICDs, AICDs, H2Zero); biocide-free water purification (CleanStream Service); reduction of surface equipment dimensions, and more,” the company’s officials say.


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