THE HAGUE -- Shell is teaming up with Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in The Netherlands to develop new technologies for improving reserves recovery.
A joint program designated `The Recovery Factor’ will run for an initial six-year period, and will bring together engineers from Shell International Exploration & Production BV and the university, including eight new PhD students.
Shell says the average recovery factor for reservoirs in production is only 35%, with remaining hydrocarbons resolutely out of reach. Current technologies make further exploitation either too difficult or too costly. However, an improvement of just 1% in global recovery of hydrocarbons would expand conventional oil reserves by 88 Bbbl, the company claims, equivalent to three years of world production at current rates.
The new research program will strive to do this by combining new technologies with traditional methods. It has two thrusts:
1) Application of measurement and control techniques (i.e. `Smart Field’ technology, which Shell and TU have worked on for the past decade)
2) Injection of chemicals (i.e. polymers and CO2) for enhanced oil production.
Techniques to be reviewed will include use of sniffing sensors to detect chemical components in wells with advanced computer models applied to control and optimize subsurface oil and gas extraction.
Another involves combining measurements from multiple data sources, including fiber optic sensors deployed throughout oil wells; subsurface seismic sensors underground or on the ocean floor; and satellite sensors measuring remotely minute deformations of the Earth’s surface.
Shell claims that combining all these different data sources into one mathematical model should provide better insight into oil recovery processes.