Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientist Seeks Ways To Squeeze More Oil Out Of Existing Wells

Date:
April 11, 2008
Source:
Mississippi State University
Summary:
Scientists studying petroleum microbiology are figuring out how to squeeze more petroleum out of abandoned or soon-to-be-abandoned oil fields. One Mississippi State researcher already has extended the life of one field by 17 years. That may sound far-fetched for those unfamiliar with his ongoing research that involves the forced growth of oil-chasing microbes used to redirect injected water that, in turn, sweeps once-inaccessible oil from old wells into production.

Lewis Brown continues to devote much of his more than 40 years in petroleum microbiology figuring out how to squeeze more petroleum out of abandoned or soon-to-be-abandoned oil fields.

The Mississippi State researcher already has extended the life of one field by 17 years. That may sound far-fetched for those unfamiliar with his ongoing research that involves the forced growth of oil-chasing microbes used to redirect injected water that, in turn, sweeps once-inaccessible oil from old wells into production.

Brown said two-thirds of all U.S. oil remains in the ground because it's not economically feasible to remove with existing technology. "We've now developed a method to get some of that oil out of the ground," he added.

The veteran microbiology professor long ago proved his method in a Northwest Alabama field experience sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, along with a Jackson-based oil company. The demonstration reinforced what he had discovered in laboratory experiments.

Before Brown began his Alabama experiment, analysts had predicted those wells would stop producing in 1998. After Brown had applied his method, follow-up analysis indicated the wells could still produce--and might continue to do so until 2015.

To date, the Alabama project has recovered more than 400,000 additional barrels. "This process has us talking about potentially recovering much of the now unrecoverable oil," Brown said. "This will help give us more time to develop replacements for our major energy source."

It's no surprise petroleum industry insiders from around the world have been contacting Brown about his research. Through private and public funding, more than $7 million has been devoted to Brown's research related to his oil recovery method. He currently is negotiating with companies from the Middle East to Great Britain interested in applying his process.

Historically, few in the industry had expertise related to microbiology, Brown explained. While much field research had focused since the 1940s on "microbial enhanced oil recovery" --known commonly by the acronym MEOR--few in the industry accepted the associated methodology for fear of plugging the wells. The few trials that were conducted didn't last long enough to determine any long-term effects associated with the process, he explained.

The difference between Brown's method, called microbial permeability profile modification, and most MEOR methods is that Brown only injects plant nutrients. Most MEOR processes involve injecting microorganisms.

By feeding only indigenous microbes in the oil-bearing formations, Brown avoids problems that can plug the wells. While limiting the amount of environmentally friendly nutrients limits their growth, it successfully alters the paths of injected water used to sweep the hiding oil from previously untouched areas.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, the process is cost-effective, Brown observed. In a recent field trial, the additional cost of the process was just $1.32 per barrel of new oil.

Though there are limits to the depths at which microbes can be expected to grow, Brown has been able to isolate microbes at depths of more than 14,000 feet, and some can even grow at temperatures above 100 degrees Celsius.

"This certainly extends the number of oil fields where this methodology could be applied," Brown said proudly.

While Brown continues to work with petroleum industry leaders in removing additional oil from the ground, he has launched a second project in Wyoming to revive depleted natural gas wells located in coal beds. As with the liquid product, he's using indigenous microflora in these wells to produce more methane.

Brown's methods for recovering the oil have earned him accolades from within the petroleum industry and from the federal government. As then-U.S. Secretary of Energy, Bill Richardson (now New Mexico's governor) wrote several years ago to thank him for his contributions after the field process proved successful. Also, the method earned a 1999 "Best of the Gulf Coast" certificate in the advanced recovery project category from the magazine Hart's Oil and Gas World.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Mississippi State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Mississippi State University. "Scientist Seeks Ways To Squeeze More Oil Out Of Existing Wells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080409204618.htm>.
Mississippi State University. (2008, April 11). Scientist Seeks Ways To Squeeze More Oil Out Of Existing Wells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080409204618.htm
Mississippi State University. "Scientist Seeks Ways To Squeeze More Oil Out Of Existing Wells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080409204618.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins