Gushor Inc. Carbon Management and The Transition to Zero Carbon-Emission Energy from Fossil Fuels
Beyond the Box:
Towards Energy Recovery Rather than Just Oil Recovery
Low carbon emission energy sources are urgently needed to support, develop, and evolve society in a sustainable and healthy manner. The timescale of technology evolution and replacement however, mean that fossil fuel carbon will be burnt for decades as energy is needed to support the developed world and to rescue billions from poverty in the developing world. Against this background play the conflicting demands of rapidly mitigating human impacted climate change and our penchant for business as usual, despite the dangers evident! How do we finesse rapid change to low carbon emission energy sources while providing continuing economic activities for changing industry sectors through this transition period?
With light free flowing oil reserves being substantially depleted, industry is shifting its focus to unconventional fossil fuels, including viscous heavy oil and oil sands bitumen, which dominate the world oil reserve but are much lower in hydrogen content than light oils or natural gas. These oils often require heat to enable recovery. They thus present a huge economic and environmental issue if we follow current recovery methods. Recent research indicates that most of the worlds remaining oil reserves were altered by microbial action in their reservoirs and understanding this natural process may provide means to lower carbon energy recovery from oilfields (Head et al, 2003). This may offer some exit routes for the oil industry from its current predicament.
The recently discovered anaerobic biological conversion of liquid petroleum hydrocarbons to methane in oil reservoirs (methanogenesis), on geological timescales, occurs through biological action by syntrophic bacteria and methanogenic archaea at temperatures as low as 15°C, albeit at slow rates at natural conditions (Head et al., 2003; Jones et al., 2008). Figure 1(after Larter et al, 2008) shows the overall process which converts oil to methane and carbon dioxide at the base of an oil reservoir, the residue being viscous heavy oils which are difficult to produce. As light ends of the oil are destroyed from the bottom, large systematic vertical and horizontal gradients in oil viscosity are formed which impact optimal placements of wells for oil recovery (Gates et al, 2007a,b; Larter et al, 2008). While not all oilfields are biologically active, crude oil biodegradation and methanogenic microbial processes are common in reservoirs that have remained cooler than 80°C, as is the case in many reservoirs. Understanding biodegradation and its impact on oil fluid properties and the conversion of light oil to viscous heavy oil and methane offers great potential both to improve recovery of existing heavy oil resources through more efficient use of energy during oil recovery and also potentially to move away from oil recovery as the major energy recovery process entirely!
Heavy oil and bitumens are becoming significant in world and Canadian production, yet current employed recovery technologies (CSS, SAGD, mining), despite great advances, are inefficient in terms of recovery, energy and water intensity, and cost to the environment. Reservoir and reservoir fluid heterogeneities are ubiquitous in heavy oil reservoirs and impact reservoir processes that depend on uniform oil mobility to work effectively e.g. SAGD or that are limited to reservoirs that can withstand high pressure processes e.g. CSS. Concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, combined with societal pressure to implement more sustainable energy recovery procedures require the development of much more effective recovery processes and we are active in developing both transition technologies to help industry optimize the current generation technologies but at the same time we are seeking out-of- the-box truly green, yet commercially feasible, alternatives.
Understanding geological and fluid heterogeneity typically found across heavy oil and bitumen fields assists in transition from current processes (SAGD, CSS) to Reduced Emission to Atmosphere Recovery (REAR) processes, to Zero Emission To Atmosphere Recovery (ZETAR) processes. REAR processes are based on optimizing current recovery processes to complex oil mobility distributions (geotailoring) and complex reservoir geology by improving reservoir and fluid description processes and linking this to improved optimized engineering operations solutions by refining well placement and operating conditions or using steam solvent combinations. The next step in recovery process evolution involves processes designed upfront to be geotolerant of complex and discontinuous geological facies but not requiring high pressure steam and reservoir fracturing strategies. With many reservoirs having mobile water as well as complex fluids and geology, radically different alternative strategies and procedures are needed and unconventional reservoirs, while they present unconventional problems also offer routes to quite different recovery technologies. Heavy oil and bitumen reservoirs are not simply conventional reservoirs with more viscous oil-they are fundamentally different! At Gushor we aim to help industry optimize its current activities economically and environmentally while also offering a spectrum of alternatives beyond SAGD. In some cases, way beyond SAGD! Production of petroleum liquids may not always be the most energy efficient use of the resource and we love to talk to technical folk who want to think beyond the box.
We have reviewed, from published data, operating efficiencies for all the active SAGD wells with public data in Alberta and have a battery of technologies and insights available for those interested in optimizing their recovery, reducing their emissions and helping the energy industry quickly transition to a zero carbon emission world. If you want to talk details we have them to show you. At Gushor, green means no carbon emissions!
Steve Larter, Jennifer Adams, Ian Gates, Lloyd Snowdon, 2009, Tunnels and Barriers in Energy Technology Innovation. Or, Why is the oil industry so conservative when dramatic technological change is needed?, Calgary, Alberta, CSPG Annual Convention, Abstract.
Gates, I.D., Adams, J.J. and Larter, S.R., 2007. The Impact of Oil Viscosity Heterogeneity on the Production Characteristics of Tar Sand and Heavy Oil Reservoirs. Part II: Intelligent, Geotailored Recovery Processes in Compositionally Graded Reservoirs: CIPC, June 12-14, Calgary, AB. Abstract
Gates, I.D., Larter, S.R. and Adams, J.J. (2007)In Situ Heavy Oil and Bitumen Recovery Process (JAGASS; J-well and steam stimulation gravity drainage process). US Patent Pending, Application No. 60/820, 129. Abstract
Head, I.M., Jones, D.M. and Larter, S.R., 2003. Biological Activity in the Deep Subsurface and the Origin of Heavy Oil. Nature: 426, 344-352. Abstract
Jones, D.M., Head, I.M., Gray N.D., Adams, J.J., Rowan, A.K., Aitken, C.M., Bennett, B., Brown, A., Bowler, B.F.J., Oldenburg, T., Larter, S.R., 2008. Crude-Oil Biodegradation via Methanogenesis in Subsurface Petroleum Reservoirs: Nature 451 (7175), 176-79. Abstract
Larter, S.R., Adams, J.J., Gates, I.D., Bennett, B. and Huang, H., 2008. The Origin, Prediction and Impact of Oil Viscosity Heterogeneity on the Production Characteristics of Tar Sand and Heavy Oil Reservoirs: Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology, 47 (1), 52-61. Abstract
Some of Gushor's other capabilities Include:
- oil mobility mapping,
- resource evaluation,
- reservoir engineering, and
- wellsite laboratory for viscosity measurement.
For more information on these and other services please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.