READING, UK – BG Group reports recovery of oil from reservoirs in deep rock formations could be improved, following a breakthrough by scientists at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt in Scotland.
Scientists and engineers collaborated as part of the International Centre for Carbonate Reservoirs (ICCR) program sponsored by Petrobras and BG Group.
The researchers have identified a naturally occurring characteristic of oil that could be exploited to help improve its recovery from the subsurface, BG says.
Around half of the world’s remaining oil reserves are in limestone reservoirs. Scientists have been using X-ray techniques to examine in three dimensions how oil and other liquids flow within limestones.
The research team found that in the complex pore structure, a previously unrecognized process allows oil droplets that are trapped in large pores to be broken up into smaller fragments by flowing water, which allows them to flow more easily through the pore network.
These findings could be applied to boost the yield from oil reservoirs by a few percent, leading to significant gains in the case of large reservoirs. This may be particularly important for recently discovered giant presalt carbonate oil fields off Brazil, which have very complex and multi-scale reservoir pore systems.
Additionally, the discovery could aid development of techniques for use in carbon capture and storage, a technology that buries carbon dioxide emissions in former oil and gas fields, preventing the release of greenhouse gases to atmosphere, BG says.
BG Group and Petrobras recently started Phase II of ICCR.