Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nano: Putting Peak Oil Out of Its Misery?

Peak Oil could occur as early as the year 2030, according to most informed analysts. But most nations are not likely to be fully prepared for oil to peak so soon. Nanotechnology appears to offer a means of maintaining production in old wells, and making new wells more viable.
Nanoscience is well suited to play a critical role in advancing the frontiers of the oil and gas industry. Reservoirs are complex subsurface permeable rock formations containing oil, gas or both. They have diverse internal properties and can be can be skinny, flat, or fragmented, as shallow as 1000 feet or as deep as 30,000 feet. Nanoscale pores permeate oil-bearing rock, (low-micron range in sandstones, mid-nanometer range in carbonates). To propel the industry forward thus requires a strong understanding of nanoparticle, fluid and solid interaction basics. The study of surface interface for example is essential to understanding pore-throats and flow rates of oil.

Nanoscience also provides solutions for the extreme conditions of the harsh downhole environment (including high pressure, high heat -- properties up to 300C, 20,000 psi), and can protect equipment and prevent corrosion or fire. Many nanotech solutions in other fields with similar harsh environments (such as aerospace engineering) have already been developed that may have a tremendous impact on the oil and gas industry.

By providing solutions for sensing and intervention nanotechnology can help find and recover more conventional oil, improve oil-field data, and diversity sources of supply.


* The need to “sniff” for new pockets of oil (e.g. by using bacterial DNA or electromagnets)
* Enhanced resolution for subsurface imaging techniques

Reservoir Characterization:

Understanding rock-fluid interaction, their chemical composition and physical characteristics at different locations inside the reservoir (pressure, flow, temperature, pH, and hydrocarbon saturation)

* The need to determine adsorption/desorption of surface active materials and mineral surface charge (wettability)
* The sensors need to withstand high temperature and pressure to characterize deep reservoirs
* The need for better image and conductivity contrast enhancers (tracers, taggants, and nanoparticles that can change conductivity deep in the reservoir)

Reservoir Management:

* Enhanced remote imaging, real-time continuous monitoring of flow-rate, pressure and other parameters during production, wireless telemetry, in situ chemical sensing
* Accurate early warning detection and location of leaks (preventing environmental hazards) _NanoConferenceCairo
An international conference on the use of nanotech for the oil and gas industries is taking place in Cairo this week -- 18, 19 November, 2009.

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