Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Improved Recovery of Underground Hydrocarbons: Trillions of Barrels of Oil

One method of improved recovery of oil involves using engineered microbes injected deep into existing wells to make oil more fluid and slippery -- easier to pump out of a well.
According to BP officials, the prize in enhancing recovery rates is enormous. A 1% improvement in recovery on BP’s original hydrocarbons equates to 2 billion barrels of additional reserves. Worldwide, a 5% increase in recovery—a conservative increase thought to be achievable—.

In May 2008, EBI announced an initial set of 49 research projects for funding during the first year of EBI’s 10-year program.

Separately in 2007, BP partnered with, and took an investment in, Synthetic Genomics....which was founded by genome pioneer J Craig Venter, Ph.D. [It] will use its expertise in environmental DNA sequencing and microbial cell culturing to produce a comprehensive genomic study of microbial populations living in these environments. _GCC
Another way of potentially recovering trillions of barrels of oil is using a new composite-ceramic high temperature heater cable to recover shale oil.
Oil shale contains an organic precursor to oil called kerogen. Kerogen cannot be pumped from a reservoir like oil; the oil shale rock must be heated to separate the liquid. Once the liquid is collected, it can be upgraded to synthetic crude oil for shipment and refining in the nation’s existing petroleum infrastructure.

CTD’s successful test of its heater cable holds promise for heating the shale oil in situ, down to a depth of 5,000 feet, thus separating the kerogen without having to go through the expensive process of mining the oil shale rock. If future underground tests of the cable prove successful, operators should be able to extract a petroleum-like liquid that is fluid enough to be pumped to the surface.

By eliminating the mining and a portion of the large-scale processing associated with oil shale recovery, CTD’s advanced cable system is estimated to cut recovery costs in half while addressing environmental issues on the surface.

The United States holds about two thirds of the world’s estimated reserves of 3.7 trillion barrels of oil shale, an amount thought to be 40% larger than remaining supplies of petroleum worldwide. _GCC

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