Research sponsored by U.S. Department of Energy, in collaboration with Dow, the University of Wyoming and Hess Corporation, launches technology aimed at more efficiently recovering oil
Surfactant-enabled, foam-assisted hydrocarbon gas injection technology for unconventional reservoirs expected to recover a higher fraction of stranded tight oil with fewer resources and a lower environmental impact
MIDLAND, Mich. – February 18, 2020 – A research project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and led by the University of Wyoming (UW), in collaboration with Dow (NYSE:DOW) and Hess Corporation, officially launched the development of a foam-assisted hydrocarbon (HC) gas injection technology for field testing in an unconventional Bakken reservoir in North Dakota. Aligned to Dow’s 2025 sustainability goals, this technology may reduce the amount of gas needed per barrel of oil produced and the need for gas flaring from unconventional reservoirs and helps to reduce the need for infill drilling.
As part of a collaborative effort, Dow, Hess Corporation and Mohammad Piri, a Wyoming Excellence Chair in Petroleum Engineering, are piloting the use of produced HC gasses to recover stranded oil in hydraulically-fractured reservoirs. While the use of gas has been evaluated by others, the use of surfactant-enabled foam is an innovative solution to slow the flow of gas in connected fracture networks, helping to facilitate uniform gas distribution in the reservoir resulting in more efficient oil recovery from the reservoir.
“This Department of Energy (DOE) investment in this research is a testament to the world-class technology we have on our hands,” said Brendy Lange, business vice president, Dow Industrial Solutions. “By seeking a solution that will address industry needs, we’ve been able to combine Dow’s vast materials science experience, UW’s fundamental research capabilities and Hess’ operational and reservoir knowledge, to develop a technology that will help extract more with less – less gas, less water, and less cost.”
The UW project, working together with Dow and Hess Corporation, is one of five projects selected for grants by the DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. Of the five total projects selected for grants and managed by the DOE, only this one falls under the category of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) Technologies for Unconventional Resources, an area of growing industry interest.
Dow has implemented several successful foam-assisted EOR field pilots in conventional reservoirs; however, applicability of this technology in fractured unconventional reservoirs has not yet been studied extensively. Amit Katiyar, an EOR researcher at Dow, upgraded the technology for the much harsher conditions of unconventional reservoirs and implemented one of the industry’s first unconventional foam-assisted EOR field pilot in 2018. “While Dow has shown that the concept of using surfactant enabled foam technologies can provide significant value in unconventional gas EOR, this joint effort among three very strong EOR players funded by the DOE has the opportunity to better understand the fundamentals of flow through such tight rock, allowing wider applicability,” said Katiyar.
As a result of this team project, surfactant-enabled recovery technology can be used as a tool to provide for the world’s growing energy needs while using more sustainable methods to get the most out of previously exhausted unconventional reservoirs. Dow offers extensive expertise and solutions to help improve many of the EOR methods currently employed and stand ready to help in formulation of complex surfactant/co-surfactant/co-solvent mixtures.
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About Hess Corporation
Hess Corporation is a global independent energy company engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. Hess is a leading operator in the Bakken shale play in North Dakota, one of the largest producers in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, and a key natural gas producer and supplier to Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand. The company also is engaged in exploration and appraisal activities offshore Guyana, participating in one of the industry’s largest oil discoveries in the past decade, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico, Suriname and Newfoundland. More information on the company is available at www.hess.com.