Innovation and Efficiency. Key to Stability for West Siberian Conventional Resources

By Joe Parson, June 25, 2014

reservoir recovery rate.

According to LUKOIL’s 2012 annual report, the company’s hydrodynamic modeling and chemical treatment efforts make up nearly 45 percent of their total enhanced recovery operations, though later in 2013 they only accounted for nearly 17 percent of actual production via EOR. Nonetheless, these operations allow for increased accuracy for targeted drilling operations and corrosion prevention during operations. The increased drilling accuracy is pivotal in the company’s still robust sidetracking program that targets residual oil at idle wells.

LUKOIL’s use of passive flow-regulation systems helps prevent gas blowouts in oil fields with high levels of associated gas that can be reinjected to repressurize the well.

Tatneft Innovates with Steam and Microbes to Sustain Production 

As a regional NOC, Tatneft focuses its EOR on applications specifically suited to Tatarstan and slightly more generally to southwest Russia.  

Tatneft is an innovator of microbial EOR, and distinctive applications of dual production methods and dual injection technologies. Statistically, Tatneft reports that by using enhanced recovery methods in new wells, it has achieved two to three times the productivity of applying the same EOR methods in older wells.

Tatneft’s dual production process aims to produce oil from multiple geological layers. This reportedly has enabled the company to produce from multiple low-yield layers in one go, essentially cutting costs and increasing efficiency. This is helped through the application of Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) to force liquids from one reservoir into another. Along these lines, dual production has also achieved several objectives to minimize blowouts and failures during both drilling and production phases. This has been primarily achieved through the use of underbalanced drilling in the initial stages followed by customized chain drives during production.

The company’s Microbial EOR efforts are particularly interesting as they seek to increase oil flow through removing organic obstructions. These MEOR techniques not only help free oil from obstructed reservoir pores but also possibly aid in desulfurization and denitrification processes.

Finally, Tatneft is also applying an intriguing system of steam and water injection aimed at reducing the final water cut. This is done primarily through targeting injection into reservoir areas that have higher probabilities to absorb the liquids themselves.

The future of such innovations is uncertain given Tatneft’s expressed difficulties in adapting their research and development program around the Russian Tax Code. The company is coordinating unspecified projects with the Skolkovo Energy Efficiency cluster, but attracting foreign investment has been difficult. Although the company is regularly introducing these innovations into the robust portfolio of new well drilling operations, old wells are being decommissioned in greater quantities. Given these and other factors, analysts forecast that Tatneft may experience only modest production gains in the near term.