Enhanced Well Recovery Basics
Oil and Gas recovery isn’t all that hard to understand. It’s not that it’s easy, it’s just fairly simple to describe. We’ll explain how it works without making it more technical than it needs to be in this article. In depth and incredibly complex scientific and field research is underway to make EOR (enhanced oil recovery) more effective, but the concept won’t change all that much. Enhanced recovery is the last in line when it comes to getting more oil out of a well, but it can also produce much higher yields. Oil Well Recovery Levels
* Primary – natural processes * Secondary – Water or Gas injection * Tertiary (enhanced recovery) – use of expanding or dissolving gases, chemicals or thermal techniques
Oil wells will normally yield around 10% of their total reserves due to natural processes. The secondary stage can coax a well to give up another 20 to 40%. Tertiary enhanced recovery options can yield an additional 30% to 60%. In other words EOR can effectively double oil production from a well. And up until this point we’re only talking about oil. Using C02 fracturing for enhanced well recovery for natural gas is also highly effective. How It Works
We won’t spend much time talking about liquids and thermal processes since they make up such a small portion of the market, especially in the western half of the US. Most wells, both oil and gas will use CO2 as the primary agent. Since we talk a lot about CO2 emissions here at Efrac, it’s important to note that we’re not just fans of enhanced recovery because we provide services to the process, but that we actually think the process produces a long chain of win-win-win-win-win situations.
Enough beating around the bush then. CO2 well recovery works by injecting CO2 deep underground near a well site. The CO2 expands and displaces oil and gas in the nearby rock or sand formations which pushes the oil or gas up and out. CO2 in, more oil and natural gas out. Sure it’s a simple idea, but it takes a whole team of skilled engineers to pull it off. Anyone can pump gas into a hole, making it push something out of another hole is quite a different story.
At Efrac we specialize in making gas well recovery more profitable for production companies that own the wells and also the environment. CO2 injection for EOR is fairly straightforward since most of the carbon dioxide is permanently trapped once injected. But since gas wells don’t work the same way CO2 injection can lead to venting huge amounts of methane and carbon. We solve that problem with membrane separation to separate the methane from the carbon – returning the natural gas to the well owners. How Enhanced Recovery Helps Everyone Win
Much higher profits from well fracturing is one win for producers. It’s also a win for the environment since methane rates seven times more potent than CO2 on the greenhouse gases list. Capturing that methane prevents natural gas from being vented to the atmosphere after a well frac. Better well production from enhanced recovery can also lead to lower prices for natural gas – a win for consumers.
But the wins don’t stop there. Using CO2 for EOR also provides a very effective means of sequestering CO2 underground. Carbon captured from a variety of sources is perfect for EOR. Taking all that carbon that would have simply been allowed to vent into the air and using it to do something quite useful instead is a big win. It not only keeps it out of the atmosphere and traps it far underground, it also helps produce more domestic oil.
EOR is just one of those things with very few drawbacks. It helps us produce more from our domestic oil reserves while reducing our carbon emissions at the same time. It aids producers of oil and gas to yield more product to consumers with minimal cost and effort which raises production – steadying markets, reducing foreign oil consumption and even stabilizing rising petroleum costs in the long term.
There is still much more research and development to be done on EOR before it becomes a major part of the oil and gas industry. But as prices for materials and labor for CO2 injection falls, and its effectiveness rises; it’s only a matter of time before this segment of the energy production sector booms. We’re proud to be a part of taking care of the environment and our economy – one well at a time.
Efrac is dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to make enhanced oil recoverywork. To learn more about what you can do to help visit efracsystems.com
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