Saturday, April 12, 2008

A World Without Peak Oil?

As peak oil predictions fall by the wayside, oil production continues to find a way to meet skyrocketing demand. Oil prices go up for many reasons. But the higher the price, the more the incentive for new ways to pump more oil that no one expected would be there.
Pumping oil is surprisingly inefficient: For decades, companies relied on ground pressure and crude secondary well-flooding methods that recovered just one-third of a field’s reserves. Now, through enhanced oil recovery techniques, companies can collect up to three-quarters, dramatically lengtheninga field’s useful life. — D.C.

CO2 Injecting carbon dioxide into the ground increases reservoir pressure and the fluidity of heavy, gummy oil, enabling it to escape rock pores and flow toward wells. It takes about 8000 cu. ft. of CO2 to get an extra barrel of oil.

STEAM Injected steam reduces oil’s viscosity, which increases flow rates. Shell claims that in the past decade steam injection has enabled it to produce more than a billion additional barrels of oil from a California field discovered in 1911.

CHEMICAL Surfactants can form a soapy film in the well, lubricating oil so it flows to well bores. A quarter of the oil from China’s massive Daqing field, which produces more than 1 million barrels per day, is recovered by this means.

MICROBES When introduced into an oil reservoir, microbes plug small channels in the rock, forcing oil through larger pores. They also generate surfactants and carbon dioxide. One Texas field boosted production by 43 percent—but it took two years.

ULTRASOUND In a recent development, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., has conducted lab tests on a device that is mounted on well-bore pipes, where it uses ultrasound to heat flowing oil, rendering it less viscous. __PopMech

Only 120 of the world's 4000 active oil and natural gas fields satisfy a remarkable 40 percent of total global consumption. Based on data compiled by geoscientists at the University of Texas, this map pinpoints 932 giant fields—those with estimated reserves of at least 500 million barrels of ultimately recoverable oil or gas equivalent. Although discoveries of these megafields peaked in the 1970s, drillers using new technologies have located 69 new giants since 1999 and anticipate finding up to 33 more before the end of the decade. Below are the biggest hits of the past eight years, including major discoveries within our own borders that could help reduce imports of foreign oil.
Davin Coburn

Oil prices are at the foundation of all other prices, in a transportation society. Food prices are not caused by biofuels. High food prices come from high oil prices. Of course, high oil prices also stimulate the quest for oil alternatives, and eventually the market will find a way to make suitable liquid fuels from biological sources.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts