Morgantown, W. Va. — The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has released two DVDs of historic research information that will aid companies in recovering oil left behind in older oil fields. This bypassed oil was previously too uneconomical to pursue; today, however, the limited availability of new places to drill—and the expectation of continued high prices for oil—is greatly increasing interest in finding and producing oil that can still be found in mature fields.
The DVDs document over three decades of DOE-funded projects and research in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and reservoir characterization, and together they include more than 1,250 reports, papers, newsletters, and background documents. Their publication is designed to help companies and researchers recover left-behind reserves and avoid duplication of past research and development efforts by making available the data and insights gained in projects over the past 30 years.
The DVDs encapsulate the experience of a total of 322 research, development, and demonstration projects of the Office of Fossil Energy EOR program. The program made EOR data from these projects publicly available at a time when only major oil companies had access to this kind of information. Some of the more important contributions of the program featured on the DVDs include—
- An early and improved understanding of the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) for EOR.
- Advances in steamflooding.
- Major contributions to the development of polymer gel systems—used today commercially to improve sweep efficiency.
- Demonstration of one of the earliest efforts to apply microbial EOR.
- Early efforts to increase the use of reservoir simulation by both large and small operators.
The first DVD, Oil Program Enhanced Oil Recovery Archive: Program Results from the Mid 70s to 2007, dates back to efforts initiated by the energy crisis of 1973–1974—efforts that had the goal of improving the effectiveness and reducing the cost of EOR methods while improving industry’s ability to predict reservoir response and project performance. Research, development, and demonstration projects included on the DVD are those focused on chemical flooding, thermal recovery, gas injection, microbial EOR, and reservoir simulation.
One important program included on this DVD is the research effort to understand basic fluid properties of CO2 and demonstrate EOR using CO2 in a variety of oil reservoirs. The present prospect of CO2 being captured from point sources, such as power stations, has stimulated much interest in using the captured gas for EOR efforts.
The second DVD, Reservoir Depositional Classification CLASS Program 1980–2008: Collection of Historical Documents, focuses on the results of the Reservoir Class Field Demonstration program, which was initiated in 1992 in response to rapidly declining domestic production of oil and the realization that huge volumes of oil were being abandoned because it was not economical to recover them.
The CLASS program was designed to encourage producers to apply underutilized technologies by transferring them from areas of successful use to reservoirs with similar geologic character and similar oil production challenges. A major lesson learned from this program is that detailed reservoir characterization prior to any major drilling or EOR project is essential to success. The DVD allows technology transfer of insights learned from these programs to continue.
Critical EOR research continues to go forward through NETL efforts. For example, NETL is working with the University of Pittsburgh on thickeners for CO2, which could become a valuable aid in EOR.
A new surge of EOR projects, and in particular CO2-enhanced production, is expected with sustained high crude prices and new sources of CO2 becoming available from power plants and other industries looking to reduce carbon emissions.
Copies of both DVDs are available from the NETL library through the NETL CD-DVD ordering system or by contacting the NETL librarian, JoAnn Yuill, at JoAnn.Yuill@pr.netl.doe.gov or (304) 285-4184.