RITEK to Extract Bazhenov Oil With Thermal-Gas Treatment Technology

By Elena Zhuk, April 8, 2013

RITEK (Russian Innovative Fuel Energy Company) continues work on its pilot project launched in 2009.  Under the project, thermal-gas treatment technology is being developed to develop deposits of the Bazhenov formation in Sredne-Nazymskoye field. According to RusEnergy website, thermal-gas treatment technology, together with multi-zone hydrofracturing, has room for improvement. Horizontal drilling with multi-zone hydrofracturing is successfully used in the U.S. to develop shale oil deposits. Given the similarities between the U.S. shale rock and Russian Bazhenov formation, Russian oil majors (such as Rosneft and Gazprom neft) plan to use these technologies – so popular in the U.S. – in domestic oilfields to start commercial development of Bazhenov formation’s deposits.

Thermal-gas treatment technology appeared in Russia in the early 1970s. Today, it is used widely in Canada in natural bitumen fields. RITEK continues testing this advanced technology on Bazhenov formation’s layers in Galyanovskoye and Sredne-Nazymskoye fields. RITEK general director Nikolai Nikolaev told OGE about pilot projects involving implementation of this technology at well #219 of Sredne-Nazymskoye field.

“We have arranged the site, designed the project, passed the required evaluation, and launched the equipment to inject air into the reservoir,” Nikolaev said. As he explained, the application of this technology ensures that oxidation processes in the well – a result of air injection – are accompanied by a rise in temperature (the products of oxidation – carbon dioxide and nitrogen – act as solvents). The oil is efficiently squeezed out of the reservoir voids; and as a result of thermal degradation and combustion, the layer of native oil matrix, which borders  with reservoirs, changes and acquires certain filtration characteristics.

“The most important is that we’ve  learned to control the physical processes in the layers,” Nikolaev noted. “This is crucial for the method, as the technological chain is highly flammable. Computer models based on the experimental data show rising production curve, while the resulting modelling parameters provide a large range of analysis.”
To continue the experiment, RITEK intends to launch another thermal-gas treatment unit on Sredne-Nazymskoye field.

“I guess, today we are trying to create something like a zeppelin. Of course, it flies, even though it doesn’t match Boeing airliners. What’s important – it takes off, and now it’s just a matter of skill and the scientists’ work – to turn the zeppelin into a state-of-the-art aircraft. How fast it will be transformed we may know once the pilot trials are over,” Nikolaev concluded.

Speaking of different production enhancement and stimulation methods, Nikolaev stressed that hydraulic fracturing was not a “cure-all solution”. Even though it does give a spike in production, it’s only a short-term process. In turn, thermal-gas treatment covers larger share of the deposit. RITEK general director has also mentioned that the company is rather poised to select optimum technology complex for the effective Bazhenov oil extraction rather than to reveal the benefits of each technology. Yet RITEK is far from giving up hydrofracturing. On the contrary, the company says hydraulic fracturing is one of the breakthrough technologies.

Hydrofracturing, water-alternated-gas injection,