Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) sounds great in theory. After all, what oil company doesn’t want to access more oil from its wells—especially in this economic climate? But we don’t live in theory; we live in reality. So, let’s get down to brass tacks: How does enhanced oil recovery work and why should you use it?
We won’t waste your time talking about all the different types of enhanced oil recovery, some of which work much better than others. Instead, we’ll focus on an EOR process with benefits that far outweigh all the rest.
At Nano Gas™ Environmental, we have developed a superior enhanced oil recovery method. It involves filling water with nanoscopic (i.e., smaller than microscopic) bubbles, or nanobubbles, of nitrogen gas. We then inject this water into an oil well, where the nanobubbles alter the characteristics of the oil. As a result, the oil more readily flows out of the well when pumping resumes.
This new method has already proven to be remarkably effective at more than doubling the production rate of oil wells. Furthermore, it costs less than other EOR techniques and poses virtually no threat to the environment.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the enhanced oil recovery process step by step, providing an easy-to-understand explanation of how it works. By the end, you’ll clearly comprehend what makes our EOR method the best option for your oil company.
Step 1: Nitro Nano™ Water Production
Our EOR process begins with producing our nitrogen nanobubbles in water. We take saltwater, brackish well water or produced water and run it through our nanobubble generator, often adding a biocide at the end. We call the resulting fluid Nitro Nano™ water. Our technology then injects this supercharged liquid into the well, where it does its incredible transformative work.
But before we get to what happens in the well, let us explain what makes Nitro Nano™ water such a game changer for the oil and gas industry. The solution has several benefits that make it superior to all other options for EOR. These include:
- Clog-free nanobubble generation
- Unparalleled nanobubble concentrations for effective treatment
- Requires no workover
- Proven, safe, affordable and eco-friendly nitrogen gas
Let’s take a closer look at what each of these benefits means for your company.
Low-Energy and Clog-Free Nanobubble Production
You may have heard about nanobubbles previously. This is because the use of nanobubbles has become mainstream over the last 11 years. Companies have been creating and using these tiny bubbles of gas in many different industries for some time now. At Nano Gas™ Environmental, we’ve also spent the last decade exploring nanobubble applications for produced water treatment and cleaning wastewater lagoons.
What is new is our patented method for enhancing oil recovery and creating nanobubbles. Our production technique has eliminated the costly problems other companies often encounter. Namely, our equipment is much more productive and does not clog when working with impure water.
Our system is more productive because it produces nanobubbles that transfer gas more effectively than standard nanobubble generators. The higher the concentration of nanobubbles, the higher the effectiveness during the EOR process and the greater the oil recovery.
The Nitro Nano™ water production unit also does not plug up when working with brackish water, produced water or highly concentrated saltwater. The same cannot be said for other production units that create nanobubbles using membranes. If the water fed into these units is impure, the impurities will clog the membrane over time, leading to expensive maintenance costs. In contrast, our unit creates nanobubbles mechanically without the use of a membrane.
Therefore, our nanobubble production process has several positive implications for oil and gas companies:
- They don’t have to increase spending on fresh water for nanobubble production.
- Using recycled wastewater avoids contributing to the water scarcity problem.
- The EOR process won’t face unexpected delays or expensive maintenance because of clogging.
For all these reasons, our nanobubble creation technique is the most efficient option for oil companies looking to employ this EOR method.
Unparalleled Nanobubble Concentrations for Effective Treatment
Can bubbles that are so small you can’t even see them with a microscope really make that big a difference for your oil well? We don’t blame you for being skeptical. After all, a few nanobubbles won’t do much.
However, our technology generates over two billion nanobubbles for every gallon of water. And because each bubble has a negative charge, the bubbles spread out evenly throughout the solution. As we’ll see, this massive army of gas bubbles has a sizable impact when introduced into an oil well.
No other nanobubble production technique can produce this many nanobubbles on the first pass. Most systems will have to go through at least seven production cycles to scale up to this volume. Fortunately, our unit does not need to waste all that energy and time.
Proven, Eco-Friendly and Affordable Nitrogen Gas
Our nanobubble generator also has the unique ability to generate bubbles containing any gas. However, we choose to use only nitrogen for EOR for several reasons.
First, nitrogen has a long successful history as an injection fluid for EOR. As we’ll see below, nitrogen has several effects on crude oil to make it much easier to recover from a well.
Beyond this, nitrogen gas is much safer for the environment than other enhanced oil recovery methods. It is non-corrosive unlike the chemicals used for tertiary recovery, and it doesn’t come with the risks of damaging the well associated with carbon dioxide or the explosion risk of methane gas. It also won’t create polluted water as steam can during thermal recovery.
To top it all off, nitrogen is the most cost-effective of all the EOR options. Other techniques like carbon dioxide gas and chemical injection are often too expensive for most oil and gas companies. Some solutions require an expensive workover. Access to nitrogen gas comes directly from the air and at a fraction of the cost.
Step 2: Oil Well Injection
Once the Nitro Nano™ water is ready, we turn off the oil well and inject the water downhole. We then let the Nitro Nano™ water interact with the oil in a few different ways to make previously inaccessible crude accessible. The three main ways nanobubbles make oil more accessible are:
- Changing the oil’s surface tension, viscosity and mobility
- Repelling oil from the rock walls
- Penetrating and driving out oil from interstitial cracks
Let’s take a closer look at how each of these scientific processes works.
Changing the Oil’s Surface Tension, Viscosity and Mobility
When Nitro Nano™ water interacts with crude oil, the nanobubbles act like a solvent within the solution. The Nitro Nano™ water decreases the surface tension of the oil, making the substance less prone to hold together and resist extraction from the well. The oil floats more readily to the surface of the water as a result.
Another effect that this reaction has on the oil is it decreases its viscosity and pour point, acting like a friction reducer and making the oil more easily movable. We all know how sludgy and heavy crude can be. At Nano Gas™ Environmental, we’ve treated oil as heavy as 10 API and made it float on water.
We should note that the transformed characteristics of the oil are temporary. The nanobubbles only change its characteristics for a time, but it is long enough to easily extract it. Eventually, the oil returns to its natural state.
Repelling Oil from the Rock Walls
Nitro Nano™ water’s transformative power extends to the oil that sticks to the geology within a well and is often difficult to extract, known as “oil-wet formations.”
When injected into a well, the Nitro Nano™ water adheres to the oil-saturated walls and doesn’t play nice with the hydrocarbons. Instead, the nanobubbles repel the crude from the rock and cause it to float on the water (becoming more water-wet). Because of this, more crude is available for recovery.
Penetrating and Driving Out Oil from Interstitial Cracks
Our nanobubbles also serve a similar yet more effective function than the use of sand proppant in fracking. Like sand proppant, our nanobubbles invade tiny cracks containing oil within the well. However, unlike proppant, once within the cracks, the nanobubbles cause hydrocarbons to escape from their interstitial chambers.
Our nanobubbles are especially adept at this because they are significantly smaller than sand proppant at 1/1000th of the size. They also become hard as ball bearings when invading minuscule spaces like this, so they keep the pores open.
Taken together, it’s easy to see how the effects of these nanobubbles substantially increase the production capacity of an oil well. They quickly and naturally bring the previously tough-to-reach oil out of hiding for superior enhanced oil recovery than other processes can achieve.
Step 3: Recover More Oil
Once the Nitro Nano™ water has started interacting with the hydrocarbons within the well, the operator reopens the well and recovers a whole lot more oil. Our company has run several demonstrations that have more than doubled the recovery rate. One demonstration in Kansas increased the recovery rate by over five times!
These initial results are only the beginning of what we plan to accomplish for the oil and gas industry. We achieved them with our original alpha unit, but we have been hard at work making our technology even better.
We have a new nanobubble generation unit in production that will fully automate this superior enhanced oil recovery process. The unit will generate massive concentrations of Nitro Nano™ water on its own and treat multiple wells at one time from a central location. As a result, you will be able to set it, walk away and easily monitor the process from your computer or smartphone.
Our company is also uniquely positioned to exclusively offer these incredible results to oil companies like yours. We recently received a broad patent on our EOR technique in the United States, making us the nation’s sole resource for Nitro Nano™ water EOR. We’re excited to partner with many companies to spread these amazing results around the country and beyond.
How Does Our Enhanced Oil Recovery Method Work for You?
We hope this post has given you a clear picture of how enhanced oil recovery works with our patented technology. As you can see, not only does the technique recover more oil than any other method available, but it also reduces the cost of enhanced oil recovery and has no negative environmental impact.
Is your oil company interested in trying our EOR technology? We’d be happy to run a demonstration and discuss an ongoing partnership.