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When oil fields start to age and their production reduces, there is little that can be done. Generally oil remains within the well, however it is unreachable, due to it being trapped within difficult rock formations.
Oil companies tasked with extracting additional oil from aging wells used to inject fluids into the rock to mix with the oil and drive it out for easier extraction in a process known as secondary recovery. However there is a major drawback to this approach which prevents it from being very effective. The fluids tend to follow the path of least resistance and so rarely encounter the inaccessible oil trying to be extracted.
I used the words “used to” because a new process has been developed which offers new potential for extracting a far larger quantity of oil from old wells. The process is called pulsed injection. Specialised equipment oscillates the flow of the water, creating build ups in kinetic energy which forces the water in a high pressure surge. The water then impacts on the rock with a higher force, overcoming the path of least resistance and allowing access to the trapped oil that was previously inaccessible.
If pulsed injection could increase the amount of recoverable oil by 5 percent globally, that would equate to 300 to 600 billion barrels. Estimates suggest that, depending on the oil well conditions, pulsed injection could improve oil recovery by 5 to 10 percent.
Wavefront Technology Solutions is a Canadian based firm that has worked to develop pulse injection technologies for more than 12 years. They lease out their technology, the Powerwave, to oil companies who wish to extract that little bit extra, delivering consistent success. They have even had cases where their technology has increased well production by more than 300 percent.
To date Powerwave has been used in more than 25 oil fields across Canada and America, and has recently started to be used around the world in places such as Argentina and the Middle East.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…