From Contents of Lecture #16, Advanced Oil Technologies, of Lecture Notes, NRPE 201: Advanced Energy Systems


16.1 Enhanced Oil Recovery

Discussion Questions for Section 16.1

D16.1.1 What were recent secondary and tertiary fractions of U.S. oil production.
D16.1.2 What is the location and well type and well spacing in the Means Unit?
D16.1.3. What is the difference between 3D seismic analysis before an oil field is in production and 4D after it is in production?

With respect to oil extraction, primary recovery refers to simply tapping or pumping on underground oil pools. Secondary extraction refers to facilitating pumping by simple means such as injecting inert material into the oil field to increased pressure for greater pumping yields. Tertiary extraction refers to what are more expensive procedures for a given well type and depth, with heated or chemical injection. In the United States primary recovering has been yielding to the other approaches as the predominant extraction method, due to depletion of more easily extractable resources.

Figure 16.1a: Distribution of Oil Production
shows fractions of primary, secondary, and tertiary U.S. oil extraction towards the end of the 20th century.

The San Adreas Unit in West Texas is an example of installation of secondary extraction techniques.

Figure 16.1b: Means San Andres Unit
is a map of the Means Unit location..

The San Andreas unit project was designed for 161 injector holes and 223 producer hole. Examples have wells at 4,225 feet (c. 1.3 km) depth, with special tubing in the last c. 215 ft. (c. 66 meters) in the injectors.

Figure 16.1c: Well Programs for Means Field
shows injector and producer wells.

The pre-existing well configuration had wells in the center and corners of 40-acre (16-hectare) squares. The injector project propsed to double the number of wells in the field interior.

Figure 16.1d: Well Planning diagrams pre-existing wells and additions in the Means Field.

Exploration and efficient recovery of oil has continues to benefit from technological improvements:

Table 16.1a Exploration and Modeling Techniques
summarizes technological improvements and some of their effects on oil recovery.

Figure 16.1e How Does Seismic Imaging Work
explains how oil and gas reservoirs can be located in three spatial dimensions (3D) before drilling exploration wells. Once an oil field is in production, the difference between seismic maps at different time shows how the reservoir and the overburden evolves in time and in three spatial dimensions (4D). As of Oct. 23, 2012, the video link under the second picture on the right-hand side at the following link explained 4-D modeling techniques:

  • How are seismic methods used to optimize underwater oil recovery?
  • Figure 16.1f Consequences of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
    shows a satellite image of the Gulf of Mexico from May of 2010.


    Section 16.2 Tar Sands, is the next section of the Contents of Lecture #16, Advanced Oil Technologies of Lecture Notes.
    For copyright information, see NRPE 201: Advanced Energy Systems.

    Updated 23 October 2012 by Clifford Singer