As oil wells age, the volumes of oil that they yield falls dramatically. On land this is countered by injecting water down into the well, thereby maintaining the pressure and forcing the oil out; unfortunately the technology did not exist, or was too expensive to be used in deepwater wells such as those found in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf of Mexico, once one of the world’s most productive oil producing regions, has fallen behind in terms of the amount of oil it yields. Pioneers are now adapting old water injection technology to be used in deep water wells.
Chevron recently installed a water injection system on its Tahiti project, 190 miles south of New Orleans that can pump seawater under high pressure down into the reservoir 28,000 feet below the water’s surface.
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Chevron expects that the millions of gallons of water that the system can pump down into the well each day will prevent the natural pressure decline and increase the production rate life of the site. They expect Tahiti to produce for an extra ten years due to the new technology.
Mukul Sharma, a University of Texas at Austin professor of petroleum and geosystems engineering, said of the technology, that it is “one of the most important things we do in terms of improving oil recovery and extending the life of these wells, in some cases by a decade or more.”
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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