Extracting oil and gas reserves from the Earth’s surface is complex and challenging. It’s also an incredibly capital-intensive process. Oil and gas exploration and production companies often face many hurdles when extracting oil and gas. One challenge is extracting fossil fuel from a rock formation can be difficult. That’s where enhanced oil recovery solutions enter the mix.
Enhanced oil refers to the artificial stimulation of a reservoir. Doing so allows oil and gas exploration and production companies to extract more oil after they’ve exhausted secondary recovery techniques. Enhanced oil recovery is also used when minimal oil is left in the reservoir. These techniques and solutions are particularly effective for extracting oil from hard-to-reach places.
People often lump enhanced oil recovery and fracking together. While these processes might be similar, they also have several differences. For starters, enhanced oil recovery focuses on increasing the amount of crude oil extracted from a drilling site. Oil and gas production and exploration companies will accomplish this by injecting gas or water into a reservoir, increasing its pressure, and forcing crude oil out of the formations. On the flip side, fracking refers to digging deep into the Earth before a high-pressure water mixture is used. This mixture aims to create cracks within the rock formations, making it easier for oil and gas to escape.
In short, fracking creates new fissures in formation. Meanwhile, enhanced oil recovery ensures you get the last drops of oil and gas from existing formations.
Oil and gas exploration and production companies often use enhanced oil recovery methods and solutions to increase harvested resources. They generally employ these techniques after secondary recovery methods fail to generate profitable and sustainable results. Most oil and gas exploration and production companies are forced to use enhanced oil recovery techniques due to declining reservoir pressure or unconventional formations blocking recovery, like shale and tight sandstone.
Here are the top enhanced oil recovery solutions today. They include:
The gas injection causes the miscible displacement of crude oil in untraditional reservoirs through nitrogen gas or carbon dioxide. Gas makes oil less viscous after dissolution. According to the US Department of Energy, gas injection is responsible for approximately 60 percent of all EOR production in the United States.
Successful gas injection requires pumping CO2 into the formation using an injection well. The gas dissolves with stranded oil at high downhole pressures, forcing it toward the production casing of the target well, making extraction more straightforward. Oil and gas exploration and production companies often alternate gas injection with water injection to increase sweep efficiency.
Recently, high-purity nitrogen gas has become popular with many companies because it has a significantly lower environmental impact.
Steam injection is especially prevalent for enhanced oil recovery in heavy oil reservoirs. Research shows steam injection accounts for over 40 percent of enhanced oil recovery production in the US.
Steam injection involves injecting water vapors into a well at high pressure and temperature. Doing so cleans the stranded oil in the reservoir after the formation pressure declines.
Performing steam injection is easier said than done. Operators must drill injection wells close to the initial well to ensure stimulation. Then, they must introduce steam into the formation through the injection well. Once the steam connects with the oil, it lowers the oil’s viscosity and creates kinetic energy, which causes the oil to move toward the production casing.
Chemical injection involves using long-chain polymers and injecting them into a well through a chemical injection skid. Doing so frees oil and gas molecules within the reservoir’s remote sections. An alternate method for chemical injection involves waterflooding, which improves recovery since it increases the efficacy of surfactants, resulting in improved hydrocarbon mobility.
Oil and gas exploration and production companies generally use alkaline or micellar polymers. Doing so enhances the flow of crude by decreasing interfacial tension between the water in the reservoir and hydrocarbon molecules.
CO2 injection is also a valuable enhanced oil recovery solution. It involves using CO2 and injection pumps during the carbon sequestration process. Oil and gas exploration and production companies like to use CO2 injection for handling corrosion, higher temperatures, and scaling during the reinjection process. Some pumps are more effective than others for CO2 pumping and injection. Generally, we recommend using:
- Process pumps
- In-line pumps
- Vertical pumps
- Single-stage double pumps
- Split-case pumps
- Barrel pumps
Are you looking for premium quality OCTG and oilfield service equipment? If the answer’s yes, we can help you. CNPS provides exceptional OCTG equipment to oil and gas exploration companies worldwide. We also help oil and gas exploration companies enhance oil recovery through our EOR solutions.
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