Oil and Gas Production Technology

aerial view oil gas refining petrochemical factory with tall refinery plant manufacture structure

The burst of production growth in the United States, often known as the “Shale Revolution,” was made possible by the introduction of new technology in the oil and natural gas industries. It was formerly prohibitively costly for oil and gas companies to extract reserves of oil and gas from low-permeability geological formations. However, a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has made it possible for these deposits to be accessed. Up until quite recently, the United States was the greatest user of oil in the world, accounting for 25 percent of the demand that was met worldwide. New developments in the oil and gas industry in the United States have stimulated economic recovery from the financial crisis that occurred in 2008. This has been accomplished through the creation of new jobs, increased investment in oil- and gas-producing regions, and decreased prices paid by consumers for gasoline. Policymakers are concerned that a significant decrease in the amount of petroleum the United States imports would have geopolitical repercussions that go beyond an improvement in the nation’s energy security and might result in altered diplomatic ties with nations that produce oil. In a similar vein, there is some cause for worry over the possibility for lower export profits for traditional producing nations to both contribute to instability and pose a possible danger to the security interests of the United States. These worries, on the other hand, are unjustified because of a common misunderstanding of the function that oil plays in the process of forming diplomatic connections.

The United States is not the only country in which innovative methods of oil and gas extraction are making their way into use. As a result of price signals, multinational oil firms have begun to explore unconventional hydrocarbon resources in Canada, South America, and Africa. These businesses are looking for larger profits by expanding their operations into new territories. Tar sands drilling and deepwater water drilling are two of the most notable examples of these newly developed production methods. In this part of the article, we will examine the many new kinds of technology for the production of oil and gas that are altering the global energy landscape, as well as the consequences these technologies have for the environment.

The Developmental Process, Broken Down into Its Components

The process of extracting oil and gas may be broken down into four distinct phases:

  • exploration
  • well development
  • production
  • site abandonment

The search for rock formations that are connected with oil or natural gas resources is part of the exploration process, which also includes geophysical prospecting and/or exploratory drilling.

After exploration has located an economically recoverable field, the next step is well development, which involves the construction of one or more wells from the beginning (called spudding) to either abandonment if no hydrocarbons are found in sufficient quantities or to well completion if hydrocarbons are found in sufficient quantities. Well development occurs after exploration has located an economically recoverable field.

The process of production involves the extraction of hydrocarbons, the separation of a combination including liquid hydrocarbons, gas, water, and particles, the elimination of ingredients that are not suitable for sale, and the subsequent sale of liquid hydrocarbons and gas. It is common practice for production sites to process crude oil coming from many wells. Oil is almost usually processed in a refinery; natural gas, on the other hand, may be treated to remove pollutants either in the field or at a natural gas processing plant. Both of these facilities are referred to as natural gas processing plants.

When a freshly drilled well does not have the potential to produce profitable amounts of oil or gas, or when a producing well is no longer economically feasible, site abandonment includes capping the well (or wells) and restoring the site.

Innovative Methods and Equipment for Drilling

Vertical drilling has always been the standard method for oil and gas wells. Operators have been able to save time, cut down on their operating expenses, and have a smaller effect on the environment as a direct result of technological improvements. The following methods are included in the next generation of drilling technologies:

Horizontal Drilling

The drilling process for horizontal wells begins with a vertical well that is then turned horizontal inside the rock of the reservoir in order to provide a larger opening to the reservoir. These horizontal “legs” may be more than a mile in length; the greater the exposure length, the greater the amount of oil and natural gas that can be drained, and the quicker it can flow. Horizontal wells are appealing for a number of reasons: (1) they can be utilized in circumstances in which conventional drilling is either not possible or not cost effective; (2) they reduce surface disturbance because they require fewer wells to reach the reservoir; and (3) horizontal wells can produce anywhere from 15 to 20 times as much oil and gas as a vertical well.

Drilling in Multiple Directions

There are instances when oil and natural gas deposits are situated in distinct strata of the earth’s crust. Drilling in many directions at once gives operators the ability to access deposits located at varying depths. Multilateral drilling is one kind of this drilling. This results in a significant boost in output from a single well while simultaneously lowering the total number of wells that need to be dug on the surface.

Extended Reach Drilling

By using drills with extended reaches, producers are able to access deposits that are located at large distances from the drilling rig. This enables producers to access oil and natural gas resources below the surface of places that are not suitable for drilling vertical wells, such as locations that are not yet developed or areas that are ecologically sensitive. Wells can now extend out over 5 miles from the surface position, and hundreds of wells may be drilled from a single location, decreasing surface effects. Additionally, wells can now reach out over 5 miles from the surface location.

Drilling on Complicated Routes

When trying to target several accumulations from a single well site, complex well routes might have many twists and turns to attempt to navigate around obstacles. When compared to digging many wells, the use of this technique may be more efficient financially, generate less waste, and have a less impact on the surface.

Advantages of Directional Drilling Technologies (Advanced Drilling Methods)

  • Enhance oil production while simultaneously building up reserves.
  • Natural cracks that intersect one another yet are inaccessible through vertical wells
  • preventing the beginning of gas or water coning, which is a phrase used to describe the process that underlies the upward movement of water and/or the downward movement of gas into the perforations of a producing well, in order to increase the amount of oil that is produced from the well.
  • Increasing output from low-volume or low-pressure reservoirs
  • Improving the “sweep efficiency” of waterflooding, also known as the capacity, to extract more oil from a reservoir after the first extraction, is necessary for reservoirs that are injected with fluids in order to boost oil or gas output.

Unconventional Natural Gas

The conventional oil well is not the only way to extract unconventional oil resources; there are other alternative options. However, the oil sands, tar sands, heavy oil, and oil shale resources mentioned above are not covered by the information provided on this page. Natural gas production using unconventional methods is distinguished by the presence of distinctive geologic characteristics, which increase the difficulty of extracting natural gas from reservoirs. Formations such as tight gas, shale gas, hydrates, and coalbed methane are examples of those that are typically more impermeable or have a lower overall permeability.

Enhancing the Working Methods

It is possible to reduce the negative impact that development has on the surrounding environment by putting into practice a wide range of innovative technologies and methods. Throughout the sections and links that follow, we highlight a few instances that may be found in the Intermountain West.

Bringing Together Various Facilities

The development of each well necessitates the use of certain fundamental procedures, facilities, equipment, and staff. Having said that, inventors have come to the realization that the total environmental footprint in a field may be minimized by merging some of these, at the very least in certain cases. The following are some examples of consolidation:

  • Multiple wells: the practice of drilling anything from several to several dozen wells from a single pad
  • Corridors: Roads, pipelines, and transmission lines that are located in common corridors are referred to as corridors.
  • Staging and Storage: The process of storing resources at a remote location and/or staging development activities, such as fracing and other well completions

Some of the benefits and drawbacks of consolidation practices include:

Multiple well padsRequires less roads and infrastructure, leading to a smaller disturbance per well and reduced overall production footprint

Can eliminate disturbance in particularly sensitive areas

Reduced drilling and completion time, which reduces rig rental costs

Reduced need for service crews, decreasing traffic (and associated emissions) and operating costs

Increased efficiency of hydrocarbon recovery from the chosen reservoir
Higher concentration of surface disturbance and waste generation

Batch processing of multi-well pads requires that all wells on the pad be drilled and completed before the results of the first well are known, delaying the start of production
Common CorridorsReduces landscape fragmentation

Concentrates disturbance
Concentrates disturbance
Centralized Staging/StorageReduces truck traffic, which reduces wildlife harassment, air emissions, and road damage

Reduces number of storage tanks needed per well site, reducing well pad size requirements

Facilitates reuse of materials; reduction; reduction in fresh water usage
Increases concentration of waste generation
Consolidated Production FacilitiesReduces truck traffic which reduces:
– Wildlife harassment
– Air emissions
– Road damage

Reduces number of storage tanks needed per well site, reducing well pad size requirements

Facilitates reuse of materials; reduction in fresh water usage
Surface disturbance concentrated to smaller area

Multiple-well drill pads: Thanks to recent advancements in drilling technology, surface pads may now be made smaller while yet reaching a bigger subsurface exploration area. Drilling pads designed for multiple wells make use of innovative drilling methods to get access to different sites inside a reservoir. From a single pad, it is possible to make contact with many underground sources at the same time.

Common Corridors: The term “common corridors” refers to the pathways that utilities like water, electricity, oil, and gas may use to go from one place to another. Utility lines and product pipelines may also be sited either parallel to streets or beneath them, which eliminates the need for several artificial routes leading to a drill site. This can be accomplished by placing the pipes or utility lines in an underground tunnel. As a result, there will be a reduced need for the building of several infrastructural paths.

Staging and Storage in a Central Location: Production materials and finished goods alike are able to be staged and stored in centralized field storage facilities. It is possible to locate the region that houses the storage tanks in close proximity to the actual location of the well. Instead of being kept on the well pads, the oil that comes from all of the well sites may be moved to one central facility. Tankers won’t have to stop at each well site to make a pick-up since there won’t be any. If there is less traffic, there will be fewer pollutants, less of an effect on animals, on neighbors, and on the road infrastructure, and it may even be possible to build a highway with a smaller volume. These sameadvantages, in addition to cost and material savings, may be realized via the use of centralized staging spaces for development processes.

Production Technology

There are various oil and gas production technology which have been utilized these days in several regions of the world. Each technology has its proper use and states with advantages and drawbacks of itself. Here are some of the popular and well-known technology for the industry.

Hydraulic Fracturing

The method of well stimulation known as hydraulic fracturing gives energy companies the ability to extract resources from geological formations that are notoriously difficult to access. Hydraulic fracturing, a technique that has been available since 1947, has been a driving force behind the Shale Revolution in the United States. Horizontal drilling has also played a role in this revolution. Over one million wells in North America use hydraulic fracturing, and the National Petroleum Council predicts that this method will ultimately account for seventy percent of natural gas output in the United States. There are now active hydraulically fractured wells in North America.

When producers want to hydraulically fracture a well, they inject a combination of pressured liquid comprising water, chemicals, and a proppant inside of a wellbore. This causes fissures to develop in the rock formation, which in turn makes it easier for oil and natural gas to flow through the well. Due to the nature of the technique and its influence on the environment, hydraulic fracturing has been the subject of debate. These environmental impacts include water depletion and contamination, increased surface pollution, and the possibility for earthquakes to be caused by the process. While these issues are being handled at the state and municipal level in the United States, environmental concerns might impede the dissemination of hydraulic fracturing to other nations. In the United States, these challenges are being addressed at the state and local level.

Tar Sands

The extraction of oil from tar sands has widespread repercussions for the international oil market, despite the fact that most of this activity takes place in North America. Clay, sand, water, and bitumen are the four primary components that make up tar sands, which are also referred to as oil sands (a heavier form of oil). Mining and processing of tar sands result in the production of bitumen, which is subsequently refined into oil for use. One barrel of oil may be produced from tar sands, but it takes two tons of the material. The traditional method of oil extraction is more straightforward and requires less investment capital than this approach.

There are primarily two ways that may be used to extract tar sands:

  • Mining: The most typical method for the extraction of tar sands is known as open-pit mining. Tar sands must be dug out using big hydraulic shovels and loaded into trucks that can transport up to 320 tons of material at a time in order to be extracted using this approach. In the end, the oil is recovered from the bitumen by using a process that involves heat, water, various chemicals, and continuous movement.
  • In-situ: When bitumen reserves are buried too deeply for mining to be an economically viable option, the in-situ technique is used. The in-situ approach involves injecting steam into subterranean tar sands in order to heat them up and make their extraction via conventional wells easier.

It is believed that there are more than 2 trillion barrels of oil reserves in the form of tar sands, however not all of these resources can be recovered economically or technically. The greatest amounts of tar sand may be found in Venezuela, Canada (most notably in the province of Alberta), and various nations in the Middle East. It is believed that eastern Utah has between 12 and 19 billion barrels of tar sands reserves, and this region contains the bulk of the United States’ tar sands resources.

Despite the fact that the tar sands sector is still in its early stages around the globe, the Canadian tar sands currently account for forty percent of the country’s total oil output. The Keystone XL pipeline, which is currently in the planning stages, would transport tar sands from Alberta in Canada to processing facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. On the other hand, criticism from environmentalists has resulted in severe delays to the project. The exploitation of tar sands in different parts of the globe could run into a variety of environmental and technological obstacles. On the other hand, if more of this resource were to be extracted, the world’s oil market would become more diversified and resistant to the price swings that result from interruptions in the supply of oil.

Horizontal Drilling

Even while directional drilling has been there since the 1930s, the marriage of that technique with hydraulic fracturing has only in the last 10 years brought about a significant shift in the global energy environment. In what has been known as the “Shale Revolution,” technological advancements in horizontal drilling have made it possible for producers to reach unprecedented depths, which in turn has made it possible for the efficient commercialization of tight oil and gas resources. Vertical wells are the most common kind of well used in oil and gas extraction. These wells are bored downward from the earth’s surface in order to access hydrocarbon sources that are located further down. When opposed to vertical drilling, directional drilling, also known as horizontal drilling, offers producers more flexibility and accuracy in terms of accessing oil and gas deposits and extracting them. By carrying out drilling operations in a number of different directions from a single well pad, horizontal drilling helps to lessen the ecological imprint of a drilling operation above ground.

The use of horizontal drilling in the extraction of shale plays throughout the United States, especially in the following regions:

  • Barnett Shale, Texas
  • Fayetteville Shale, Arkansas
  • Haynesville Shale, Arkansas/Louisiana/Texas
  • Marcellus Shale, Appalachian Basin

Horizontal drilling gives oil and gas operators the ability to reduce the surface effects of development by drilling several wells from a single pad. This is made possible by horizontal drilling. However, in the same vein as vertical drilling, horizontal drilling has been the subject of property and mineral rights conflicts. This is due to the fact that drillers have the capacity to extract from adjacent properties. Horizontal drilling has even been the subject of international tensions, most notably in 1990, when Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing its oil through the use of the technology, which ushered in the beginning of the First Gulf War. This was the most famous instance of horizontal drilling being at the center of international tensions.

Deepwater Drilling

The center of oil production is moving away from the Middle East and into the Atlantic Ocean as a result of developments in offshore production technology, especially deepwater production technology. This is having a significant impact on the worldwide market. As oil prices have continued to climb over the last decade, deepwater drilling has become an economically feasible option. Although there is not universal agreement over the depth at which offshore drilling is considered “deepwater,” recent technical advancements have been pushing the boundaries of what was formerly believed to be impossible, which has resulted in the word “deepwater” being redefined. On the other hand, the definition of deepwater drilling in use today refers to any depth that is more than 1,000 feet.

Offshore oil production primarily makes use of two different methods; both are very capital-intensive and need for a high degree of skill in order to be used successfully:

  • Semi-submersible platforms: Platforms that are only partially submerged are known as semi-submersible platforms, and they are distinguished from other types of platforms by the presence of ballasted pontoons. These platforms are more stable than regular ships and often feature extensive deck areas with control and operations space, helipads, and loading docks. Additionally, these platforms are typically larger than standard ships.
  • Drillships: Exploratory drilling is performed by drillships, often known as “drillships,” prior to the production of oil and gas. Even though drillships are not a new technology (they have been there since the 1950s), modern imaging and positioning technology makes it possible for significantly better levels of accuracy to be achieved throughout the maintenance and completion of a well.

Deepwater operations have seen their profitability suffer as a direct result of the current drop in the price of oil, which may also hinder future growth. Despite this, businesses go on with their production because they are required to do so by long-term commitments. Due to the fact that deepwater drilling demands a high degree of technical skill in addition to a considerable commitment of finance, there are only a select few firms in the world that participate in deepwater drilling. These companies include:

  • BP
  • StatOil
  • PetroBras
  • Chevron
  • Exxon Mobil

Over one hundred billion barrels of reserves, or approximately ten percent of total reserves, are located in deepwater areas across the world. Just in the Gulf of Mexico, there are 3,400 wells that are located in deep water. If they are not effectively covered and fortified, these wells provide frequent maintenance and repair issues in addition to environmental and security concerns that might potentially occur. However, if done so in an environmentally responsible manner, deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico gives the greatest chance, with reserves ranging from 30 billion to 40 billion barrels. Given that it has reserves amounting to more than 30 billion barrels, Brazil is another country that stands to benefit from the increase of deepwater drilling operations. Finally, the African continent may be the next frontier for deepwater, with approximately 30 million barrels of deepwater reserves, the main share of which is situated in Angola. This is because Angola is the only country on the African continent that has deepwater reserves. The phrase “Golden Triangle” refers to the geographic area that consists of these three locations. To this day, Mexico has been the most productive nation in the triangle, but Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, has been making significant headway in expanding its deepwater capabilities.

Mapping Seismic Activity

Exploration operations for oil and gas have been more successful as a result of advancements in seismic mapping and imaging technologies. This is one aspect that has contributed to the success of the shale revolution in the United States. Geophones are very sensitive sound-emitting devices that aid seismologists in their search for subsurface hydrocarbon resources by bouncing sound waves off of underground rock formations. The echoes that are produced as a consequence are recorded and then turned into three-dimensional maps. These maps are then evaluated by supercomputers, which helps reduce the amount of time and money that is spent on exploration.

It has been available for more than 80 years, but recent developments in digital images have made seismic technology more exact than it has ever been. This has enabled large firms to explore outside normal regions of production, such as shale, deepwater, and tar sands. Only a select handful of the most significant oil firms in the world are able to make use of this technology as a result of its high degree of knowledge and the significant financial investment it necessitates. On the other hand, the proliferation of foreign joint venture agreements is probably going to be followed by technological transfers.

Repercussions for the environment

The development of new technology in the oil and gas industry has made huge amounts of previously inaccessible resources available. These developments have produced environmental advantages, as well as repercussions and controversy. Skeptics are concerned that hydraulic fracturing poses a threat to towns that are located in close proximity to fracking activities. This is despite the fact that natural gas is replacing coal as a fuel for the generation of power. Environmentalists are especially opposed to innovative fracking methods because they compromise the quality of both the air and the water. This method entails injecting enormous quantities of water, sand, and chemicals into deep subterranean rock formations. It also uses up a large quantity of water at a time when many parts of the world are experiencing drought.

Seven environmental scientists conducted a meta-analysis of 165 academic studies and databases for a study that was published in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources in 2014. The researchers state that “public concerns about the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing have accompanied the rapid growth in energy production.” These concerns include the potential for groundwater and surface water pollution, a degradation in local air quality, fugitive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, induced seismicity, ecosystem fragmentation, and various community impacts. Additionally, there is the possibility that ecosystems will be fragmented. A good number of these problems are not exclusive to the extraction of unconventional oil and gas. However, the scope of activities using hydraulic fracturing is far broader than that of traditional exploration carried out on land. In addition, major industrial expansion and high-density drilling are happening in regions that have had little to no prior oil and gas production. These developments are often taking place in people’s real backyards.

These are issues that are shared by the National Resources Defense Council. According to the information presented, the oil and gas sector “has dug hundreds of thousands of new wells all throughout the nation” over the course of the last decade. Together, these wells and the huge new infrastructure that goes along with them to transport, process, and distribute oil and gas bring full-scale industrialisation to areas that were traditionally more rural.

“Unconventional oil and natural gas production facilitated by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is fueling an economic boom, with implications characterized as ranging from’ revolutionary’ to ‘disastrous,'” was the ultimate conclusion of the group of writers who headed the 2014 research that was referenced above. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.”

Improved Oil Extraction Techniques

Primary, secondary, and tertiary recovery, sometimes known as improved recovery, are the several stages that might be included in the process of developing and producing crude oil in oil reservoirs in the United States. During primary recovery, the natural pressure of the reservoir or gravity force oil into the wellbore, and this process is complemented with artificial lift methods (such as pumps) that transport the oil to the surface of the earth. During primary recovery, however, a reservoir normally only yields around ten percent of the total oil that was initially present in the reservoir. Secondary recovery methods mainly include the injection of water or gas into a field in order to displace oil and move it to a production wellbore. This results in the recovery of 20 to 40 percent of the initial oil that was in situ.

When it comes to oil extraction, what exactly is the difference between Primary Recovery, Secondary Recovery, and Enhanced Recovery?

The main and secondary ways of oil extraction have been the traditional methods. However, according to research conducted by the United States Department of Energy, these traditional methods only exhaust between a quarter and half of a well’s oil reserves. The development of a tertiary approach, more popularly known as improved oil recovery, was undertaken in order to put a stop to such wasteful spending (EOR). But what precisely differentiates the three, and why are the first two such a waste of time and effort?

Primary Oil Recovery

Primary oil recovery is the process of obtaining oil, which may occur either by the natural rise of hydrocarbons to the surface of the ground or through the use of pump jacks and other artificial lift devices. Primary oil recovery is also known as subsurface oil recovery. Because this method only targets the oil that is either liable to its release or accessible to the pump jack, the amount of oil that can be extracted using this method is quite restricted. In point of fact, the well’s potential is only retrieved using the principal approach anywhere between 5 and 15 percent of the time.

Secondary Oil Recovery

Injection of gas or water, which will displace the oil, compel it to migrate from its resting place, and bring it to the surface, is what this approach has to offer as a solution to the problem. In most cases, this method is effective in locating an extra 30 percent of the oil’s reserves; however, this percentage may be higher or lower depending on the oil itself and the rock that surrounds it in the reservoir.

Enhanced Oil Recovery

However, because most of the oil that is simple to produce has already been extracted from U.S. oil fields, producers have begun experimenting with several tertiary, or enhanced oil recovery (EOR), techniques. These techniques have the potential to ultimately produce 30 to 60 percent, or even more, of the reservoir’s initial oil in place. There have been three primary types of EOR that have been identified as having achieved varied degrees of commercial success:

  • Thermal recovery is a process that includes the use of heat, such as the injection of steam, in order to reduce the viscosity of the thick, heavy oil and enhance the oil’s capacity to flow through the reservoir. More than forty percent of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the United States is accomplished via the use of thermal methods, especially in the state of California.
  • Gas injection is a technique that utilizes gases like natural gas, nitrogen, or carbon dioxide (CO2) that expand in a reservoir to push additional oil to a production wellbore, or other gases that dissolve in the oil to lower its viscosity and improve its flow rate. Natural gas, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide (CO2) are all examples of such gases. Nearly sixty percent of the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) output in the United States comes from gas injection.
  • Chemical injection can involve the use of long-chained molecules called polymers to increase the efficiency of waterfloods, or it can involve the use of detergent-like surfactants to help lower the surface tension that often prevents oil droplets from moving through a reservoir. Both of these methods are examples of chemical injection. Chemical processes are responsible for around one percent of EOR production in the United States.

The relatively high cost of each of these approaches, in addition, in some instances, to the unpredictability of the success of those approaches, has been a barrier to their widespread adoption. There are around 114 commercial CO2 injection projects that are now operational in the United States. These operations together inject over 2 billion cubic feet of CO2 and generate over 280,000 BOPD (April 19, 2010, Oil and Gas Journal).

CO2 Injection Presents a Significant Number of Potential Advantages

CO2-EOR is the method of EOR that is generating the highest attention from new customers in the market. The first attempt at CO2 injection was made in 1972 in Scurry County, Texas. Since then, it has been used successfully throughout the Permian Basin of West Texas and eastern New Mexico. Currently, CO2 injection is being pursued to a limited extent in Kansas, Mississippi, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Alaska, and Pennsylvania.

The majority of the carbon dioxide (CO2) utilized for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) has been sourced from naturally occurring reservoirs up until fairly recently. However, new methods are now being developed in order to manufacture carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial uses such as the processing of natural gas, fertilizer plants, ethanol plants, and hydrogen plants in areas where naturally existing reserves are not accessible. One of the demonstrations taking place at the Dakota Gasification Company facility in Beulah, North Dakota, involves manufacturing carbon dioxide and transporting it to the Weyburn oil field in Saskatchewan, Canada through a pipeline that is 204 miles long. The operator of the field, Encana, is pumping carbon dioxide (CO2) into the ground in order to prolong the productive life of the field. They are trying to add another 25 years of production and as much as 130 million barrels of oil that would have been lost otherwise.

Enhanced oil recovery using carbon dioxide from the next generation

The research and development program of the DOE is expanding into new fields and conducting research on novel techniques that have the potential to significantly improve the economic performance of CO2 injection and expand its applicability to a wider group of reservoirs. This would involve moving the technique out of the Permian Basin in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico and into basins that are much closer to the major sources of man-made CO2. The next generation of CO2-EOR has the potential to produce more than 60 billion barrels of oil by utilizing new techniques such as the injection of much larger volumes of carbon dioxide, innovative flood design to deliver carbon dioxide to areas of a reservoir that have not been swept, and improved mobility control of the injected carbon dioxide.

Seven Next Generation CO2 EOR research projects were chosen via a competitive process by the DOE in September of 2010. Four different projects are working on creating methods for controlling the mobility of the injected CO2. Innovative foams and gels have the potential to stop highly mobile CO2 from flowing through high-permeability sections of a reservoir, which would otherwise go unswept and unproductive. This would allow the reservoir to function more efficiently. The following are the four projects:

  • SPI Gels Allow for Significantly Improved Mobility Control in CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery (Impact Technologies, LLC)
  • Nanoparticle-Stabilized Engineered CO2 Foams for the Purpose of Enhancing the Volumetric Sweep of CO2 EOR Processes (U. Texas – Austin)
  • In order to increase CO2 sweep efficiency in sandstone and carbonate hydrocarbon formations, novel CO2 foam concepts and injection schemes have been developed (U. Texas – Austin)
  • CO2 Foam Stabilized by Nanoparticles for Use in CO2-EOR Applications (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology)

One project is looking into the possibility of increasing oil production by injecting carbon dioxide into the residual oil zone. The project is called:

  • “Next Generation” CO2-EOR Technologies To Optimize the Residual Oil Zone CO2 Flood At The Goldsmith Landreth Unit, which is located in Ector County, Texas (United States of Texas – Permian Basin).

There are now two initiatives that are working on the development of simulation and modeling tools for CO2 EOR:

  • System for the Acquisition and Processing of Real-Time, Semi-Autonomous Geophysical Data to Monitor Flood Performance (Sky Research, Inc.)
  • Software for CO2-EOR and Carbon Sequestration Planning (NITEC LLC)

Artificial Lift for Oil and Gas

The act of increasing the pressure inside the reservoir and encouraging the oil to rise to the surface is known as artificial lift. This technique is carried out on oil wells. When the natural drive energy of the reservoir is insufficient to force the oil to the surface, an artificial lift may be used to recover more output. This is done in order to maximize oil recovery. Although certain wells have sufficient pressure to allow oil to rise to the surface without the need for stimulation, the majority of wells do not and so need artificial lift. In point of fact, the extraction of oil from 96 percent of wells in the United States requires the use of artificial lift right from the start.

Even in the case of wells that initially have a natural flow to the surface, that pressure will eventually decrease with time, necessitating the use of artificial lift. Because of this, artificial lift is often carried out on all wells at some point throughout their respective production lifetimes. Pumping systems and gas lifts make up the two primary categories of artificial lift, despite the fact that there are various other ways to accomplish the goal of artificial lift.

Methods of Artificial Lifts

Beam Pump

Beam pumping is the most prevalent form of artificial lift pump system that is used. This sort of artificial lift pump system engages equipment both on and below the surface to boost pressure and push oil closer to the surface. Beam pumps are the most common kind of jack pump that may be found on onshore oil wells. These pumps are made up of a sucker rod string and a sucker rod pump. The beam pumping system is rocking back and forth over the surface of the water. This is attached to what are known as the sucker rods, which are a series of rods that are lowered down into the wellbore. Near the bottom of the well is where the sucker rod pump is placed. This pump is linked to the sucker rods, and the sucker rods are connected to the sucker rod pump. This motion activates the rod string, sucker rod, and sucker rod pump, which functions in a manner analogous to pistons inside of a cylinder.

The beam pumping system runs in this manner as it rocks back and forth. The sucker rod pump is responsible for transporting the oil all the way up to the surface from the reservoir, which is located below. The pumping units, which typically operate at a rate of roughly 20 times per minute, may be driven either electrically or by a gas engine that is known as a prime mover. Despite the fact that the engine can attain 600 revolutions per minute, a speed reducer is used to make sure that the pump unit travels in a consistent manner. This is done so that the beam system can function as it should.

Hydraulic Pumps

Instead of using sucker rods, hydraulic pumping equipment uses a downhole hydraulic pump to push oil to the surface. This artificial lift pumping system is another kind of artificial lift pumping system. At this point, the production is pushed up against the pistons, which, together with the pressure, lifts the fluids to the surface of the machine. The natural energy that is contained inside the well is put to use in a manner similar to the physics that was used in the waterwheels that powered the gristmills of yesteryear in order to bring the produce to the surface.

In most cases, hydraulic pumps are made up of two pistons, stacked one on top of the other, that are linked by a rod that travels up and down within the pump. Both the surface hydraulic pumps and the subsurface hydraulic pumps get their power from power oil, which is defined as clean oil that has been extracted from the well at an earlier point. The reservoir fluids are first delivered up a second parallel tubing string to the surface, and then the surface pump transmits the power oil via the tubing string to the subsurface hydraulic pump positioned at the bottom of the tubing string.

Electric Submersible Pumps

A centrifugal pump that is submerged below the level of the reservoir fluids is used by electric submersible pump systems. The pump consists of several impellers, also known as blades, which are connected to a lengthy electric motor and are responsible for moving the fluids inside the well. The installation of the whole system takes place at the very bottom of the tubing string. The pump is connected to a surface-level source of energy by means of an electric wire that travels the length of the well. The electric submersible pump creates an artificial lift by rotating the impellers on the pump shaft. This puts pressure on the fluids that are nearby, which in turn forces them to the surface of the water. Electric submersible pumps are a mass manufacturer that have the capacity to raise more than 25,000 barrels of fluids per day.

Gas Lifts

Gas lift is a relatively new kind of artificial lift that involves injecting pressurized gas into the well in order to restore pressure and for it to produce. Even if a well is running without the need of artificial lift, there is a good chance that it is still using some sort of natural gas lift. The injection of gas into the well lowers the viscosity of the fluids already present in the well, which in turn lowers the pressure at the well’s bottom. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that the fluids will flow more freely to the surface.

In most cases, the gas that is pumped into the well is recycled gas that was originally generated by the well. Gas lift is the method of choice for offshore applications due to the fact that it requires extremely few surface units. Downhole, the compressed gas is injected through the casing tubing annulus, and it enters the well at a multitude of entry sites known as gas-lift valves. This process takes place downhole. When the gas is introduced into the tube at each of these distinct stages, it causes bubbles to develop, reduces the pressure, and makes the fluids lighter. Beam pumps are used in the vast majority of wells in the United States, accounting for 82 percent of all wells. Ten percent of the pumps are gas lift, four percent are electric submersible, and two percent are hydraulic.

Making a decision on an artificial lift system

To extract the greatest value from the development of any oil or gas field, the artificial lift technology that offers the best price per unit of production must be chosen. There is a huge amount of variation within an industry with regard to the criteria that are utilized to decide which lifting technique will be employed in a certain sector. The following are the methods:

  • Operator experience
  • What kinds of installation strategies are available to customers in certain parts of the world?
  • What is successful in related or adjacent sectors at the moment?
  • Identifying the procedures that will allow lifting at the acceptable rates and from the required depths
  • Analyzing checkboxed lists of benefits and drawbacks associated with “Expert” systems in order to choose and remove systems
  • Evaluation of beginning costs, running expenses, manufacturing capacities, and other factors with the use of economics as a criterion for selection, often based on the concept of present value.

These approaches take into account:

  • Position on the map geographically
  • Capital cost
  • Cost of operations
  • The adaptability of production
  • Reliability
  • “Average amount of time between setbacks”

The majority of the time, the selection criteria consist of things like what has performed the best in the past or which lifting approach works the best in domains that are comparable. Additionally, the equipment and services that are offered by suppliers have the ability to readily detect which way of lifting will be used. However, when high production rates and considerable expenditures for well maintenance are both components of the situation, it is advisable for the operator to explore the majority of the available assessment and selection techniques, if not all of them. For techniques of selecting artificial lifts, see there. If the “best” lift technique is not chosen, variables like as long-term service costs, postponed output during workovers, and high energy expenses (low efficiency) may substantially diminish the net present value (NPV) of the project. This can be accomplished by not selecting the “best” lift method. Generally speaking, the reserves have to be created in a timely way while maintaining relatively modest operating expenses. According to the conventional knowledge, the artificial lift technique that is considered to be the finest is the one that offers the most present value over the course of the whole project. A comprehensive present-value study necessitates the use of high-quality data, yet these data are not always easily accessible to the public.

It is possible that environmental and geographical factors should take precedence over other concerns. For instance, sucker-rod pumping is the artificial lift technique that is used the majority of the time in onshore operations in the United States. On the other hand, sucker-rod pumping may not be the best option in a city with a high population density or on an offshore platform with a large number of wells confined to a relatively limited deck area. Additionally, beam lifting is not an option for lifting deep wells that produce many thousands of barrels per day; other technologies need to be investigated. When it is feasible to employ multiple of the different lift techniques that are accessible, it is more difficult to determine which option is the best overall decision. The options may be limited to just one way of lifting when geographic, environmental, and production factors are taken into account.

The decision of the artificial lift technique should be included in the overall design of the well. After the technique has been chosen, the size of the wellbore that will be necessary to achieve the target level of output must be taken into consideration. Many times, a casing program has been created to reduce well-completion costs; nevertheless, it is subsequently discovered that the intended production could not be attained due to the size constraint on the artificial lift equipment. This is an issue that arises rather often. This has the potential to result in the complete exhaustion of all reserves. Even if the targeted production rates can be accomplished, using lower casing sizes might result in increased well-servicing challenges over the long run. It is tempting to choose a smaller casing size when oil prices are low since it will assist with the present economic situation. Even while it should go without saying that wells should be drilled and finished with an eye on future production and lift techniques, this is not always the case.

Oil & Gas Operations Technology

Over the course of many years, there have been several iterations of the Oil and Gas Operations Technologies, sometimes known as OT. In the oil and gas business as a whole, the requirement for operational improvements as well as cost control is now higher than it has ever been. In this era of “lower for longer” oil prices, many different oil and gas operations systems, components, and modules are currently being developed by a variety of different suppliers in order to help users overcome the increasing number of different operational challenges they face when attempting to extract more hydrocarbons from their fields.

According to the majority of sources inside the business, there are now more than 1,100,000 onshore and offshore platform oil and gas wells functioning around the globe. Furthermore, on a yearly basis, about 100,000 new wells are dug on average. According to OE magazine, there were more than 4,400 subsea wells that were operating, and there were another 6,400 wells or more that may be developed in the years to come. According to statistics from the OE, there are approximately 10,000 offshore platforms that are already functioning, and there are almost 2,000 platforms that have the potential to be created in the years to come. On land, there are now tens of thousands of new wells coming online each year, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of wells that are already operational. The prediction period covers the next three to five years.

More users are coming to the realization that the advantages given by these solutions, even if they are just slight improvements, are now in reality investments and are no longer only something to be considered. The majority of users are required to make a decision about the level of detail required for the infrastructure of the oilfield operations management system before they can maximize their production and recovery rates. These solutions have the potential to assist companies in lowering costs while also ensuring that operations are carried out more effectively with a reduced number of skilled individuals. Oilfield operations management systems are increasingly considered as an essential investment that may result into a meaningful return on investment (ROI) and assist secure a company’s future existence in an increasingly competitive market.

Naturally, developments in the underlying technology as well as international standards play a role in ensuring that the appropriate solutions are picked for both the present and the future demands of the organization. For instance, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0 provide brand new chances to enhance the overall performance of businesses. In the oil and gas business, this entails operational improvements for owner-operators, with the majority of the focus being placed on increased asset dependability. The use of IIoT, analytics, and several other technologies that are predictive and prescriptive may assist end users achieve a greater level of performance.

Oilfield Operations Management Systems

The financial benefit of increasing operational performance by even 3 percent to 4 percent can translate into thousands of dollars per year, per month, or even per day for very large projects, depending on the production level of an individual well (or field), and it can even translate into millions of dollars per day for extremely large projects. Therefore, investments in oilfield operations management systems need to be appraised in terms of their return on investment (ROI) as well as other significant criteria, which owner-operators, independent E&P businesses, and oilfield service providers are able to monitor and control. ARC is of the opinion that the majority of producing wells should already be doing so if they are producing at rates that are enough to financially justify an investment in an oilfield operations management system.

It is anticipated that a growing number of owner-operators, independent E&P firms, and related stakeholders will continue their investment in oilfield operations management systems solutions as oil prices continue to recover and the supply-demand equilibrium regains its balance. This is because the new “lower for longer” margin-compressed environment is being embraced by a growing number of these entities. They are aware that an oilfield operations management system can assist them in reducing costs, increasing production, enhancing recovery, and ensuring more efficient operations with fewer experienced personnel. This is an important investment that will translate into a material return on investment and continued survival in a competitive environment.

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Systems for Oil & Gas (O&G) Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems for Oil & Gas (O&G) are developed to satisfy the special needs of applications involving oil and gas pipelines. There has never been a time in history when having a SCADA system that is very dependable has been more crucial than it is right now. In addition to this, a contemporary SCADA should be able to readily interface with other systems and technologies coming from a dispersed remote environment and going to the central location. Not only is it vital to guarantee a continuous supply of water, but it is also necessary to provide the return on assets (ROA) that is demanded by all contemporary methods of doing business.

There are several SCADA systems still in use today that are well over 20 years old. In many cases, not only are the components that are needed to maintain these systems difficult to find, but the personnel skills that are required to keep them functioning are also becoming more and more scarce. This is a problem because both of these factors make it difficult to maintain these systems. The overall SCADA system has gotten more complicated, and its functioning now depends on the coordinated implementation of a wide variety of capabilities as well as certain technological prerequisites. In spite of the fact that the product is the most important factor, the suppliers have specialized topic expertise, regional presence, and understanding of the particular industry requirements.

Optimization of Drilling in Oil Fields

It is essential to implement drilling optimization systems in order to guarantee that owner-operators, independent E&P players, and drilling contractors will be able to maximize their rate of penetration and speed to first oil, improve recovery rates in both new and mature wells, and open up production on a wider variety of well types and application locations, such as subsea, offshore, and onshore wells. In order to choose the optimal drilling optimization systems, one must first do in-depth research and get a grasp of the technology and services offered by possible providers, in addition to their general business procedures and goals.

Artificial Lift Optimization

During the course of their productive lives, the vast majority of oil and gas wells that are operated on every continent need to make use of some kind of artificial lift. The selection of the appropriate lift technology calls for an in-depth study, which should include forecasts about the properties of gas, oil, and water; pressure loss from inflow to wellhead; fluctuation in gas-to-oil ratio; and water cut over a certain amount of time. Monitoring and optimizing the artificial lift system is just as vital as choosing the best possible lift technology. This is due to the fact that faulty functioning of the lift system typically results in greater operational costs and, as a consequence, higher capital expenditures.

Subsurface Controls for Oil and Gas Production

Some of the largest oil and gas firms in the world have made investments in deepwater and ultra-deepwater projects. There is a possibility that a substantial rise in the volume of data that is being transferred from a subsea installation. There is a possibility that flaws will be introduced into the control system as a result of the addition of new machinery as well as a rise in the amount of data. In order to avoid putting the dependability of the critical functions at risk, it will be necessary to guarantee that there is sufficient independence between the critical functions (control functions and safety functions) and the monitoring functions. The exceptional qualities of subsea control systems, such as their ability to improve the oil-to-gas recovery ratio, have emerged as the primary motivating factors for the preference for resource development in deepwater. These days, the benefits of having a high level of efficiency and economic be.

Pipeline Scheduling Solutions

An increasing number of pipeline operators and transporters now view automation of the scheduling operations as a positive investment in productivity, operational, and profitability improvements. All of this is being done with increasingly reduced staffing levels due to “the Great Crew Change” and layoffs experienced during the extended decline in oil prices. Pipeline scheduling solutions continue to develop and evolve. In today’s margin-compressed markets, pipeline operators are coming to the realization that relying on manual approaches or legacy pipeline scheduling solutions is no longer sustainable. This is especially true given the ready availability of relatively cost-effective automated pipeline scheduling solutions. Pipeline operators are also realizing that the use of automated pipeline scheduling solutions can help them save money.

Systems for the Detection of Leaks

Because of the complicated structure of oil and gas pipelines, which link production sites that are located both onshore and offshore, specialist solutions are required to ensure that the pipelines continue to operate without interruption. Leak detection is an essential component of the controls as well as the information systems. The pressure, temperature, and state of the gas or oil that is being pumped, as well as the condition of the pipeline itself, all play a role in determining the kind of detecting technology that is needed. When it comes to making the right choice for a leak detection system, the location of the pipeline as well as its surroundings (such as water, land, or a mix of the two) are both very crucial considerations.

Because of both environmental and financial considerations, making sure that the pipeline operation uses the appropriate leak detection system is of the utmost importance. The failure to identify a leak poses not only a threat to human health and the surrounding environment, but also a potential threat to public safety, especially if the leak occurs in a densely populated region. The proper selection of a leak detection system is vital if one want to quickly determine what kind of leak there is and where it is located.

Intelligent Pumps for the Next Generation of Digital Oilfields

Because of the intricate nature of oil and gas production as well as the fluidity of market forces within the oil and gas sector, there is a higher need than ever before for the implementation of digital oilfields. Controlling the movement of oil and other fluids out from wells and across oilfields in a precise and dependable manner is an essential component of the digital oilfield. Historically, pumps have not been intelligent, and as a result, they have been unable to offer distant employees with an adequate amount of command and control. Depending on a number of variables, including pressure, temperature, and the state of the oil being pumped, it may be necessary to use a variety of different pumping methods. For instance, some pumps are better suited for artificial lift, while other technologies are ideal for multi-phase, and yet other technologies are best for large volume. Each of these categories has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In addition, it is necessary to take into account the circumstances of the substance that is going to be pumped. The viscosity of crude oil is normally rather high, and it sometimes includes entrained gases or solid material.

Flow Meters That Measure Several Phases

The measuring of the flow of oil and gas is not a straightforward operation. The Multiphase Flow Meter technology was developed specifically to be of assistance. Because the fluid being measured might be a combination of several types of gas (wet and dry), condensate, and water, it is necessary to use specialist equipment in order to accurately assess a multiphase situation. When it comes to precisely measuring oil and gas output, both onshore and offshore oil and gas production fields need specific solutions. Offshore oil and gas production fields also need these solutions. Accurate measurement is an essential component of the information systems that are used for flow control, as well as production allocation, production accounting, and other similar purposes. Various sensing methods are needed based on a variety of circumstances, including the condition of the oil that is being produced, the pressure and temperature of the fluid, the density and composition of the fluid, and the mass/volume fractions of oil, gas, and water.

One of the most significant contributors to the overall economy is the petroleum and natural gas sector. It is in charge of supplying critical energy sources for a variety of objects, including automobiles, residences, buildings, and machinery, among other things. Oil and gas industries are becoming more dependent on technology as a result of the high demands placed on them in terms of safety and maintenance. These businesses will be able to better their operations and maintain their competitive edge if they use the most recent software and technology. The most current advancements in technology for the oil and gas business have led to a few significant breakthroughs that have been of great assistance to the sector in recent years. Artificial intelligence, big data analytics, electric monitoring technology, and drone technology are all components of these software solutions for the oil and gas industry. The commercial sector of the oil and gas industry is about to enter a whole new age marked by digital transformation and the growth of technology.