It is common practice to call oil "black gold" in periodicals. But it is true only in the allegoric interpretation, if we mean budget revenues from oil sales. There is a great number of natural liquid hydrocarbons different in color and consistence. Some of them are transparent, with shades depending on admixtures. Black and viscous oils with a high level of paraffins are less valuable and are more difficult to extract. It is no wonder that manufacturers striving to get maximum profit are trying to pump out "light" liquid oil whose reserves are globally and rapidly reducing. That is why the problem of finding effective extraction methods of its "heavy" varieties is on the agenda.
This and some other problems were discussed at the All-Russia Scientific and Practical Conference "Extraction, Preparation, and Transportation of Oil and Gas" held in Tomsk (in the context of 400th anniversary of this Siberian city) in autumn of 2004. That is not accidental: thermal methods are often used at deposits with high-viscosity oil. Productive horizon steam injection is a predominant method. To control steam passage scientists developed technologies with the use of inorganic gel, whose heat resistance is up to 350°C.
Another important issue is loss of pressure in layers in the course of liquid mineral extraction. To stabilize the pressure manufacturers inject water. But eventually water turns into an enemy: at some oil fields the level of water content makes up 82 percent. How to solve this problem?
Siberian specialists developed a gel-technology: water solutions with special admixtures are injected into wells. This solution turns into a gel in the layer and forms a protective screen which prevents invasion of water into the most permeable layers. Then it is made to leak where the oil is, forcing it out.
Such screens are formed using different reagents (organic substances, emulsions, polymer gels) depending on specific peculiarities of oil fields: temperature, mineralization, rock permeability, extraction phases, etc. These methods are popular and promising due to their cost-effectiveness and short pay-back period (several months).
Employees of the RAS (Siberian branch) Institute of Oil Chemistry achieved a substantial success in development and introduction of new technologies intensifying oil recovery. Major Russian companies such as Lukoil, Slavneft, Surgutneftegaz, YUKOS and some foreign enterprises (in particular, Middle East companies) have demonstrated interest in their work. Notwithstanding the fact that companies of the Persian Gulf area do not feel lack of hydrocarbon raws, local managers are worried about professional field development with maximum oil extraction level. These problems are discussed at a government level: it is necessary to keep national wealth for future generations.
Russia has only recently turned to ecological and economically sound principles of the use of natural resources. After commercialization of oil industry, oil-extracting companies have become interested in obtaining maximum profit in the shortest period. But national and state interests stipulate complete extraction of hydrocarbon raws. The Law On Mineral Wealth adopted in the country as well as the achievements of Russian specialists discussed at the above-mentioned conference serve this purpose.
Nauka v Sibiri (Science in Siberia), 2004
Prepared by Rudolf BALANDIN
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