Monday, January 18, 2010

Jack Frack Ice Fracture Changes Oil Outlook

Water expands almost 10% of its volume when it freezes. This natural ice fracture technique allows for a repeated fracture "jacking" effect in oil well fracking, to release around 5% more oil from a well.
Repeating the freeze-thaw cycles over many hours .... creates a “jacking” effect, with the cracks running farther and farther out from the well bore, much like a crack in a car windshield gets longer with each heating and cooling cycle.

Kosakewich believes “This technology is a game-changer, and allows the small and medium-sized firms a chance to compete with the big firms, which are publicly traded and can raise a lot of money.” A plan to be tried in a mature oilfield in the Pembina reservoir, will be to rework the depleted areas, with the help of PetroJet, a Calgary company that uses revolutionary fluid-cutting technology to auger through installed well casings and create new horizontal bore holes. “They can go 50 meters out from the existing vertical bore in four directions, and we can frac in all these directions. Even if we can recover only three to five per cent more oil from these fields, that represents an incredible reserve of light, sweet oil from existing fields, and with all the infrastructure in place,” Kosakewich said.

...Liquid CO2 still flows under pressure at minus 55 C. It’s pumped down a small inner pipe. The liquid CO2 flows back to fill the space between the inner pipe and the almost three-inch outer tube. Water is pumped down to fill the space between the outer tube and the eight-inch borehole. The water is slowly frozen – expanding and cracking the surrounding rock. The high pressures inside the refrigerant pipe protect it from damage. _NewEnergyandFuel

Such advanced methods of improving oil recovery will allow for a higher percentage of extraction from previously "exhausted" wells.   Such technologies are being applied in North America and other non-OPEC regions.  But eventually -- in the next 50 years perhaps -- such technology may be applied widely in the Persian Gulf area, when that region is "exhausted."   But probably not, since by that time better alternatives for energy and fuel will be available.

Put simply:  OPEC and other oil dictatorships have nationalised most of the world's oil -- artificially limiting world oil supplies (political peak oil).  Private oil-cos must scrape the bottom of the barrel, and are doing so profitably.  They are motivated.

 Most of the world's oil and gas supplies have not been located yet.  Huge volumes of oil have been located but not tapped.  Of the fields currently being tapped, most of the oil remains in the ground for dozens of reasons primarily centering on politics.

But all of that will become irrelevant as the world moves beyond oil to more plentiful and sustainable energy supplies such as advanced fission and eventually fusion.  (solar, biomass, and geothermal will become important, and other dark horse candidates may emerge)

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