America’s Largest Oil Reserve Remains Underground
A Remarkable Recovery Technology Comes out of Texas
We have become very good at finding oil and producing that initial surge from most oil fields. However, as the field reaches that baseline, 25% of produced reserves and drive and flow characteristics change, production starts a downward spiral. To find new fields with massive reserves is becoming less and less likely, and the vast majority of new discoveries, with serious potential, are more and more expensive to find and produce.
Wells that were initially producing upwards of 500 barrels [and more] per month are now falling into the ‘marginal’ category. The U.S. Department of Energy describes a marginal well as one that produces under 80 barrels per month. They report that there are now nearly 500,000 of these marginal wells, who together produce about the same amount of oil that America imports from Saudi Arabia. These numbers are growing every year.
As this output has continued to decline, so has the quality of the oil product, which is saturated with reactive elements from the formation. The formation dynamics are constantly in flux as gas for drive is expanded and reduced, oil is produced and removed from the formation, and water is ever increasing to replace the movement of oil. The oil costs more to produce, less can be coaxed to the surface, more water is produced, and predictability of operations becomes a challenge. Arguably, increasing production from current wells can provide faster gains in production to meet demand and puts the most profit back in the hands of the producers,
Anyone with a modicum of oil field knowledge knows that the bulk of the world’s oil supply is still in the formations that are currently being produced. The Department of Energy also reports that two out of every three barrels of oil is still patiently waiting, hidden. To be sure, there is a plethora of reasons, geologically, chemically, and dynamically that this reality exists. Trying to determine, interpret, and ultimately understand what is going on within oil formations located thousands of feet in the ground is a daunting task that is tackled every day by the world’s brightest individuals. For nearly twenty years oil companies, service companies, engineering firms and chemical companies have been trying to develop a chemical or method to access these giant reserves. This has initiated the formation of a growing, multi-billion-dollar industry known as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). Members of the EOR industry are tripping over themselves as they attempt to create, or announce the creation of a new method of oil recovery from tar sands, shale, chalk, bedrock, clay, and other foreign formations where oil is absorbed or attached.
The good news is that there are methods utilizing a range of chemicals that have been formulated over the years to combat the situation and help stimulate and revitalize production of these older wells, individually, and as a field. The bad news is that most current well treatment and stimulation is old technology that relies on a variety of chemicals and cocktails that are often dangerous and environmentally hazardous. Surfactant or detergent is a cheap method of well treatment but is limited in potential results. Introduced to the well bore and near well bore formation, the surfactant will reduce interfacial tension between oil and water but has little effect on scaling and fouling issues. The net result is that flow characteristics can be enhanced temporarily. Acid treatments lead the way as a means to “clean” and “stimulate” a well. Acid, however, is a destructive force in and of itself and although it will help alleviate some problems with scaling and other fouling issues, it will cause equipment damage and can cause reactions in the oil that are not necessarily desirable. Most new treatment chemicals are simply variations and combinations of old chemicals that still rely heavily on surfactants and acid reactions that have a destructive nature.
Most traditional treatments for enhancing wells for secondary recovery are very limited in their effectiveness or require a high degree of understanding in formation characteristics and geology which is often not available and can be costly and out of the reach of most producers.
One area of interest on the well treatment front is ASP, Alkaline / Surfactant / Polymer flood. The technology combines produced water with the use of three components to reduce interfacial tension of water and oil and oil and minerals in the formation (surfactant), penetrate into the formation to release oil (alkaline), and then push the oil through the formation (polymer). Tests are being conducted and the results would indicate that the technology will work. However, ASP is only beneficial and economically viable in water flood applications that involve treatment of an entire field. The technology does not lend itself to individual well treatment and by its nature must be performed based on careful and costly study of site-specific conditions including formation geology and chemistry. ASP has potential issues with improper treatment ratios that can do damage to the reservoir and the use of polymer can potentially block areas of the formation, requiring additional remediation.
Today, however, there is a company in Houston, Texas that has dedicated itself to the development and implementation of a new line of products that take well treatment and water flood to a new level. Unlike most traditional chemicals and the current trend with ASP, these products are designed to perform in the targeted environment based on interaction with the problematic geochemistry that exists in oil formations. The ASP method addresses common issues that typically limit oil production while it decreases maintenance including; reduction in scaling and corrosion from several combinations of sulphides, sulphates, oxides and reduction of paraffin and asphaltene fouling. Simultaneously, the product water wets mineral surfaces and reduces friction, protects metal surfaces to reduce corrosion, and is environmentally friendly. Unlike acids that are destructive, CO2 that adversely affects our ozone layer, surfactants that are limited, and ASP’s that require a critical combination of chemicals, this new product provides all of the benefits in one proprietary, results oriented. biodegradable chemical product.
Ascension Technologies, Inc. (ATI) is marketing this product under the trade name, PetroLuxus™. ATI’s manufacturers facilities are located in Texas and currently produce more than 30,000 gallons of chemical weekly, and because of demand, plans have been laid to expand the current production levels which will increase production to more than 100,000 gallons weekly.
PetroLuxus™ performs unlike any other recovery product available. The product works on a molecular level to separate oil from any media including water, minerals, sand, etc. Its many other functions are achieved from the chemical characteristics that work to initiate ionic exchange mechanisms in response to common formation chemistry. The development of PetroLuxus™ had taken over fifteen years of lab research and another 10 years of in the field and has culminated with production of a wide range of products that all carry common basic performance that can be individually enhanced by the infusion of different base metals during production. Tests have been conducted that reveal a multi-fold benefit to producers in increased oil production from improvements to flow and in equipment performance.
PetroLuxus™ is water soluble and effectively uses water, in a 3% to 5% solution as a carrier to disperse and penetrate. Although not a surfactant, the chemical bears surfactant like qualities in the ability to reduce interfacial tension. When in contact with hydrocarbons (oil or gas), the chemical will cause normally non-polar oil to pick up a slight charge thus making it more colloidal and hydrophobic. The oil then is repulsed from the water chemical solution or minerals that have been in contact with the solution. The latter produces the water wetting effect which is highly beneficial to allow oil to flow through the formation channels. Interfacial tension reduction combined with a highly negative conductivity allows PetroLuxus™ to force oil to lose its attraction with particulates and metals. The net effect is improved flow characteristics and reduced frictional coefficients.
PetroLuxus™ is a very efficient and effective oxygen scavenger. It readily pulls available oxygen thus reducing corrosion that contributes to scaling and destruction. With its natural attraction to metal and its small molecular structure, PetroLuxus™ will readily penetrate between sludge and corrosion that foul perforations and production string components and bond with the metal surface to resist corrosion (once PetroLuxus™ comes in contact with any metal, no hydrocarbons whatever will cling to that metal. Improved equipment performance and reduced maintenance provide valuable reduction in operation costs and increased operational up time.
DOWN HOLE OIL FIELD TESTS
In 2008, PetroLuxus™ was field tested with a Houston Texas based oil company and used in downhole treatments with six of their low [marginally] producing wells located in central and west Texas. These wells were producing from 50 to 80 barrels per month. The PetroLuxus™ formula, in a 1.5% ratio to water was injected down each well. The team then waited as the treatment went into action, separating hydrocarbons from anything to which it had absorbed or attached.
The pumps were then brought back on-line and oil began to flow in an output level that was 2-5 times original production. Now nine months after initial treatment, oil production has continued to climb upwards to 500 barrels per month.
The graph below demonstrates before and after treatment for the first four months, on one of the six wells (statistics on other wells are similar, and studies are available upon request). You will note that after four months, production increased from 82 barrels per month to nearly 500 barrels. Production fell in July when the well driller brought the well off-line for more than two weeks equipment replacement and maintenance. Production now, at nearly nine months is approaching 600 barrels.
These field tests also demonstrated that well performance and operation is dramatically improved by the combined benefits of flow improvement and the reduction of maintenance and related down time issues. Before and after treatment results vary from well to well but consistently show average daily flow increases but more significantly, wells that were plagued with problems are now operating for up to eight months with no major down time or maintenance. Additional lab tests show that oil quality is usually improved by the reduction of suspended particulate, water, and metals while no changes are affected to the oil characteristics as seen in TPC, total parts hydrocarbon, analysis.
The revelation is that this family of chemicals will provide a better and more effective means to improving the operational characteristics of individual wells and can dramatically improve the performance of water as a drive mechanism.
PetroLuxus™ is designed to provide a simple, effective, solution for issues that frustrate and impede well performance. The product is designed with a thorough understanding of geochemistry and the particular problems associated with maintaining optimum production from any type of well. The product is safe, non-flammable, non-volatile, non-hazardous, and can be used in conjunction with normal treatment procedures and equipment. The product is effective when injected with water as a carrier for general cleanup or can be used with hot oil treatments as an additive to facilitate improved cleaning and removal of paraffin.
PetroLuxus™ is the first and only cost-effective and biodegradable product that recovers up to 96% of recoverable oil in place, doing so while remaining environmentally safe, during and after treatment. As such, treatments no only do not require follow-up remediation, but in fact remediate the production and flowback water, removing harmful bacteria and heavy metals, allowing the driller to reuse the water, rather than face costly disposal. By eliminating disposal costs and improving overall performance of the well equipment oil producers can save billions of dollars.
For more information, please go to: www.ascensiontechinc.com