Thursday, April 02, 2009

More Oil Where That Came From

Easy oil is probably running out because it was the first to be discovered and burned. But it wasn’t so “easy” when it was discovered. By the same token, the difficult oil of today will be tomorrow’s easy oil, thanks to the learning curve of technology expertise. Overall, “difficult oil” exploitation will be the survival and even prosperity key for many Western oil companies in a world that will be increasingly dominated by national oil companies.

It will take time, but I dare to make a prediction. By 2030 more than 50 percent of the known oil will be recoverable. Also, by that time the amount of known oil will have grown significantly, and a larger portion of unconventional oils will be commonly produced, bringing the total amount of recoverable reserves to something between 4,500 billion to 5,000 billion barrels of oil. What’s more, a significant part of “new reserves” will not come from new discoveries, but from a new ability to better exploit what we already have. Leonardo Maugeri
Leonardo Maugeri is a top executive at ENI, and one of the world's experts on the topic of oil reserves. Here is an article by Maugeri on the rejuvenation of old oil fields -- given new life time and time again by newer and newer technologies.
Kern River Oil Field was discovered in 1899, and initially it was thought that only 10 percent of its heavy, viscous crude could be recovered. In 1942, after more than four decades of modest production, the field was estimated to still hold 54 million barrels of recoverable oil. As pointed out in 1995 by Morris Adelman, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the few remaining energy gurus, “in the next forty-four years, it produced not 54 million barrels but 736 million barrels, and it had another 970 million barrels remaining.” But even this estimate was wrong. In November 2007 U.S. oil giant Chevron announced that cumulative production had reached two billion barrels. Today, Kern River still puts out more than 80,000 barrels per day, and Chevron reckons that the remaining reserves are about 480 million barrels.

...Although wells have gone farther and deeper than ever before, technologies have evolved to get more oil out of the rock, using heat, gas injection, chemical processes and even microbes.

Steam injection, among the oldest heat-based methods, was decisive in the revival of the Kern River Oil Field back in the early 1960s. The basic principle of this technology is that the injected steam heats the overlying formation, allowing oil to move, so that it becomes recoverable. In simpler words, it is like heating crystallized honey to get it into a liquid, less viscous form.

To this day, Kern River’s steam injection represents the largest project of this kind in the world. A variant of steam-assisted recovery has been applied to tar sand deposits in Alberta that are too deep to be surface-mined.

Another heat-based process that has been field-tested is burning a fraction of the reservoir’s hydrocarbons. The fire generates heat and carbon dioxide, both of which make oil less viscous. At the same time, the fire itself breaks the larger and heavier molecules of oil, once again making it mobile.

Another technique involves the injection at high pressure of gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) or nitrogen into the reservoir. In simple terms, these gases mix with oil, reducing both its viscosity and the forces that trap oil into its prison. CO2 can also be injected simply to restore or maintain the reservoir’s pressure.

...Another method to help recovery is to use chemistry. Chemicals can mix with trapped oil and make it less viscous, so that it can flow toward the well. Although the chemistry terminology can be quite esoteric, these chemicals all work based on the same principle, which is similar to how layers of soap molecules can engulf fatty substances and help remove grease from your hands.

....Microbial enhanced oil recovery is still in its infancy, with experiments being conducted the U.S., Mexico, Norway, Venezuela and Trinidad. This technology consists of pumping considerable amounts of specialized microbes into the reservoir, together with nutrients and in some cases also oxygen. The microbes grow in the interface between the oil and the rock, helping to release the oil. The revolution underway in genetic engineering opens up the possibility of modifying bacteria and other microorganisms to make them more efficient at breaking up the heavier and more viscous oil molecules so as to make them mobile.

... _Sciam
Maugeri's book, The Age of Oil, is well worth reading for anyone who wants to understand more about oil reserves, new discovery, production, and recovery. Knowledge is a useful antidote against the prevalent misinformation propagated by wealthy and well-financed, well-connected radicals who parade under the false name "environmentalist."

The radical environmentalists who have taken over western governments and powerful inter-governmental bureaucracies are committed to starving the world of most of its energy. The long range plan is to reduce the population of Earth to roughly 100 million humans. These dieoff.orgiasts naturally assume that they themselves will survive this culling to enjoy the new, pristine planet emerging on the other side.

Unfortunately, these powerful and genocidal fools do not understand the underlying forces that they claim to be mastering "for the good of the earth." Virtually everything they think they know is wrong, and everything they attempt to do is far more likely to cause harm than good.

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