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Increase production 25-200% by pulsing EOR

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The effectiveness of enhanced oil recovery by flooding can be improved if the injection fluid (water or carbon dioxide) is pulsed, says Alberta company Wavefront Technology Solutions Inc.

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The company has developed downhole tools which can release the injection fluid in pulses, rather than a usual steady flow.

The company claims that its clients have seen an increase in production rate 25 to 200 per cent within 4 to 12 months after installing the technology, and achieved a 2 to 5 per cent increase in ultimate recovery as a result of using it.

To understand how the system works, consider that after earthquakes in California, oilfields produce better, and geysers in Yellowstone National park produce more water, says Brett Davidson, CEO of Wavefront Technology.

The earthquakes shake up the subsurface, and mobilize oil from the pores.

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In a similar way, if EOR flooding fluid is pulsed – switched on and off repeatedly – it can mobilize oil from the pores like an earthquake can.

The technology was originally developed as a project by Dr Tim Spanos, a physicist who specialised in general relativity, as a study of the relationships between energy in the earth and fluid property.

“We took his theory from the pages of a notebook and put it into practise,” Mr Davidson says. “It was a series of equations.”

“Dr Spanos and I started working on the lab proof of his concept in 1997. It has taken us a number of years to develop the necessary downhole tools to have a fully commercial technology. We’re getting to the point where we have a critical momentum of acceptance of the technology.

Mr Davidson was previously manager of the geomechanics Research Group at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.

Wavefront Technology Solutions Inc. won its first client in 2007, an Alberta oil company, which tested the technology on 3 injection wells, pushing oil to 16 producing wells. After a 2 year pilot, they ordered 50 tools, to be followed up by another order for 10, and they have a further 45 tools to be delivered during 2011.

The company has deployed 107 tools altogether, in Alberta, Texas, California and Saskatchewan. It has contracts to deploy a further 227 (or is a further 120 check it’s a further 120 for a total of 227). Clients are using it both for waterfloods and CO2 floods.

The company has experimented with different pulsing patterns, it can find a pattern best suited to the type of rock and its attributes.
The company has created a simulator to model how the system will behave in different types of reservoirs. It varies with the fluid viscosity, permeability, thickness and well structure.

The company is also selling the technology for use in groundwater remediation, where chemicals are injected into groundwater to help decontaminate it.

In its published results for the quarter ending November 30 2010, the company had revenue of CAN$925k, 60 per cent more than the same period of 2009, and expenses of $2.4m, compared to $1.9m for the same period of 2009.

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