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Enforced recovery: oil operators look for new methods of producing tight oil

This is an abridged version. The full text is avaiable to subscribers to The Russian Energy weekly.

When 70% of Russian oil reserves are in the hard-to-recover category, EOR technologies become a must for many field operators. Apart from the regular, and most popular, technologies of drilling extra wells and sidetracking, advanced reser¬voir stimulation methods are gaining popularity.

Defying skeptics

Russian engineers of upstream projects often express derogatory opinions about specific methods of reservoir stimulation. Here is, for example, a typical view at an online oil and gas forum:

‘Given the fact that only drilling can really slow down the field depletion tempos, the most efficient method is probably sidetracking. Other “technologies” (various chemical, pulsation, et cetera) are of a local importance. They can be employed to stabilize the flow rate fluctuations during workovers, with a 50 percent chance of success, and steal some of the budget at the low level of management. They don’t make the weather.’

Strategists of oil companies, espe¬cially those producers that have to deal with significant volumes of hard-to-recover oil, on the contrary, place their bets with testing and adoption of advanced technologies. In late June, officials of Tatneft and Zaru¬bezhneft voiced a proposal under the following name: ‘The Program of Replacement of Oil Producing Re¬source Base in Russia on the Basis of Innovative Development of Field Tests and Mastering Modern Meth¬ods of Enhanced Oil Recovery.’

The program envisages establish¬ment of 12 testing grounds for innovative technologies and award¬ing fiscal incentives to operations thereon. Additional testing grounds, the authors of the program insist, would be set up by local authorities, with a smaller size of tax reductions.

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