Nanotechnology shows potential for oil and gas operations (OE 2009)

There are many possibilities for nanoparticle technology applications in oil and gas operations, but the realities lag the possibilities, Sergio Kapusta said at Offshore Europe 2009 today.

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK – There are many possibilities for nanoparticle technology applications in oil and gas operations, but the realities lag the possibilities, Sergio Kapusta said at Offshore Europe 2009 today.

Kapusta, chief scientist and manager of Energy Innovation and Technology for Shell Global Solutions International, identified a number of operations that could benefit from nanotechnology in time. One of those areas is in reservoir management. At present, industry can acquire limited information from short distances outside the wellbore in hydrocarbon reservoirs. Drawing from medical applications, Kapusta said it could become possible to send nano “robots” into a reservoir and interrogate those robots to gather information about the horizon and also to deliver chemicals into the reservoir.

With nano materials of 1 to 100 nanometers in size, moving through reservoir pores of 1,000 nanometers in size should be more easily accomplished. This size difference would allow pore-scale evaluation, the transmission of chemicals for EOR, and even better geosteering capabilities, Kapusta said.

Looking ahead, he said these materials could be used to illuminate surface contacts, identify bypassed and trapped oil, and to release emulsifiers on command. Also, magnetic nanoparticles could be used as sensory signal emitters to monitor reservoir conditions.

He suggested that the oil and gas industry would not become a nanoparticle industry, rather would use the technology as a resource.

One drawback at present is the cost of nano-engineered materials. Whereas the industry is used to thinking of treatments in terms of cents per barrel, nanomaterial costs were more like dollars per gram. The future of the technology depends upon progress made in conjunction with academia and industry organizations such as the Advanced Energy Consortium.

9/10/2009

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