Boosting oilfield output to help close the energy gap
What's the challenge?
Despite soaring global energy demands, did you know that the average oilfield only yields 30-35% of its potential? So imagine the benefits if producers could unlock more of the oil that remains trapped underground.
Around the world the race is on to develop sustainable energy alternatives – including renewable sources such as wind and solar power. Yet industry forecasters predict that by 2030 there will still be a huge gap between resource availability and demand. It's not surprising therefore that oil companies are looking to solutions like Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) to extract more crude oil from their existing reserves.
How does EOR boost oil output?
Put simply, EOR is used to recover oil that can’t be accessed by conventional types of extraction. Different types of EOR exist including the chemical method, which involves injecting a blend of specialty surfactants and water into a reserve to emulsify trapped oil molecules and flush them free from rock capillary pores where they are stored. The resulting emulsion is then flowing through the reservoir into a production well where it is lifted to the surface for further processing into crude oil and brine.
Why the prospects look promising
As a global supplier of specialty surfactants and other performance chemistries for oilfield operations, Huntsman is ideally positioned to meet the challenges of the rapidly expanding EOR sector. Estimates suggest that Huntsman’s in-depth expertise in surfactant chemistry could help oil companies extract up to 50% of the 70% of oil that currently can’t be removed from reservoir rocks by conventional methods.
Huntsman's surfactant solutions can be customized for wide variations in crude oil composition and geology. They can be used in deep reserves where other EOR methods are prone to failure, can handle both light and heavy types of crude oil, and have the ability to tolerate high pressure, high temperature, high saline environments.
What's in the pipeline?
With a dedicated team focused on surfactant development and molecule design, Huntsman is working with world leading multinational and domestic oil companies to create innovative EOR solutions for field trial testing. Our chief focus is onshore oil sites that tend to be easier to work. But the team is also looking at the potential for its chemistries to be applied offshore in more difficult, high temperature, hard water fields. We are also developing surfactants that can potentially be used with CO2 injection to maximize recovery.
Added to this, we offer an outstanding range of specialist technologies, world-scale manufacturing, a global distribution network and in-depth understanding of the oil industry’s regulatory compliance issues. By taking a holistic, full process approach from product concept through to commercial large-scale production, we are well placed to deliver successful and sustainable EOR solutions into the foreseeable future – helping to close the world’s energy gap.
For more information: Guy Biesmans