Enhanced Oil Recovery in Australia

Written by CSIRO. Posted in Enhanced Energy Recovery & Oil Industry Blog

Microbially Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR) is the use of microbes in petroleum reservoirs to enhance the amount of oil that can be produced.

The microbes in MEOR are typically hydrocarbon-utilising, non-pathogenic micro-organisms that are naturally found in petroleum reservoirs or are introduced.

As a result of their metabolic activity, the microbes excrete natural and non-toxic bio-products such as alcohols, gases, acids, surfactants and polymers.

These can cause a series of very desirable changes in the physical-chemical properties of the crude.

There is also a marked improvement or a near-complete restoration of the lithological properties of the reservoir rock.

Improving production of Australia’s oilfields

Demand for fossil fuels approaches or even outstrips supply growth.

Despite advances in renewable energy sources and the likely move to a hydrogen economy, oil will remain a key energy source for 20-30 years.

However, globally it’s recognised that it is getting progressively harder to find more oil. Most likely, the majority of the oil provinces and giant oilfields have already been discovered.

The best way to influence oil production and hence Australia’s balance of payments is by improving productivity of known oilfields. Future oil exploration is focussing more and more on difficult targets.

The best way to influence oil production and hence Australia’s balance of payments is by improving productivity of known oilfields.

In 2003 Australia was 75 per cent self-sufficient in oil, but this is predicted to decline to 50 per cent by 2015. 

This will contribute to an ever-widening trade deficit.

In mature basins a major component of the addition to reserves is derived from 'reserve growth' (field 'growth'). While finding and exploiting more subtle traps and oil pools in or near existing oil fields is important, as is exploring for oil in new petroleum provinces, Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), sometimes called Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) or tertiary oil recovery, will play a critical role in sustaining oil supply from mature fields.

Improved Recovery

Primary recovery usually only accesses 30 to 35 per cent of the original oil in place (OOIP).

Secondary and tertiary recovery methods may net a further 15 to 25 per cent OOIP, leaving 30 to 55 per cent OOIP left behind as irrecoverable or irreducible oil in the reservoir.

MEOR technology targets this remaining oil and aims to enable production of 80 to 85 per cent of OOIP.

While it is clear that biocatalysis performed by microbes may promote beneficial chemical reactions such as the production of biosurfactants in a very specific and energy-efficient manner, a sound understanding of the underlying principles is important to predict site-specific effects of microbial activity on fluid flow in porous media and hence on the efficiency of oil production.

Source: http://www.csiro.au/en/Outcomes/Energy/Energy-from-oil-and-gas/MEOR.aspx

MEOR set to expand it's horizons

Written by EER LTD. Posted in Enhanced Energy Recovery & Oil Industry Blog

EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) is an enormous investment opportunity, with total global EOR recovery potential estimated to exceed 750 billion barrels of oil.

The Middle East has the greatest EOR potential with over 475 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

The U.S. DOE estimates that the U.S. has reserves of 100-160 billion barrels of stranded oil that could be recovered (equivalent to 35 years worth of crude oil imports at current levels).

Similar stranded oil extraction opportunities exist in Asia. Since the oil targeted for EOR is located in wells that have already been drilled, exploration risk is virtually eliminated. Effectively, depleted oil reserves can dramatically increase in value with EER's abundant, low-cost BBR TM process, which unlocks a large reserve of EOR producible barrels.

Crude oil production through conventional methods is only able to capture about 20-40 percent of the original oil in reservoirs. However, using EOR enables the recovery of between 60-90% of the reservoirs oil.

The use of CO2 for commercial EOR is an established oil recovery method that began in the United States over 30 years ago. There are now over 120 registered CO2 floods worldwide. However, limited supplies of naturally occurring CO2 and high costs of CO2 production, compression and transport have, to date, limited the wide utilization of EOR. Power plants generate large streams of CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels, but the cost of post-combustion capture remains very high and the technology is not yet commercialized.

MEOR (microbial) methods such as EER's BBRTM  process, can achieve the same or better results for a significant saving per barrel, making it a highly attractive alternative with almost unlimited capacity to expand it's market  into a multibillion dollar industry in the future.

Global EOR-Based Oil Recovery Capacity