In the oil and gas industry, finding ways to optimize production and efficiency is important, particularly in recent years where producing oil at a lower cost is necessary to remain competitive in the industry. Fortunately, thanks to technological advancements in recent decades oil and gas companies now have more opportunities than ever to maximize profitability in oil and gas operations.
One of the most important places to start when looking for where to begin applying smart technology to oil and gas operations is in the oilfield itself, in the reservoir where oil and gas is initially produced.
What is an Oil and Gas Reservoir?
In the oilfield, the reservoir (often referred to as hydrocarbon reservoirs) is where oil and gas is produced. It is essentially a rock formation with multiple layers, and well beneath the surface, oil and gas can be found within porous spaces. There are typically 3 main parts to a reservoir. These are the source rock, reservoir rock, and cap rock.
How Recovering and Processing Oil from The Reservoir Works
Although oil extraction methods may vary based on geology, recovering oil from underground reservoirs primarily involves common drilling and pumping practices. During primary recovery, natural pressure within the reservoir moves oil into the well bore, and pump systems, such as beam or rod pumps, bring oil to the surface.
However, the process does not end there, because this typically only recovers 10% of available oil in the reservoir. There are additional techniques to increase field production once primary recovery has occurred. These include injecting water to push oil to the wellbore, adding heat to lower the viscosity of the oil, or injecting gas to expand the reservoir and push oil towards the wellbore. These methods can increase field production by 30-60%.
After oil is recovered from the well, there are three main steps in the refining process. These are separation, conversion, and treatment. These processes allow for the reconfiguration of crude oil into select oil products.
Reservoir Management for Optimizing Field Production
To optimize field production from oil and gas reservoirs, there are a number of moves that should be made. Major goals of reservoir management are to limit the drilling of unproductive wells, maximize production, and determine when and where alterations to the operation need to be made.
Reservoirs need to be fully evaluated and characterized before initially starting operations. This includes size, geology, rock and fluid properties, and other associated qualities. This allows for models and predictions to be made regarding well and reservoir performance and the creation of an effective field development plan.
Successful management strategies rely on acquiring data and performing analyses to determine trends in production and plan for the continuation of operations. The more information you have, the better. Tracking the trends in well performance and other things like flow, pressure, and temperature within the well can help determine when adjustments need to be made in wellbore surface systems and the start/start of operating controls.
Smart Wells for Increased Reservoir Field Production
Smart wells are a valuable resource that can help narrow the gap between production levels and reservoir potential. Wells classified as “smart” leverage downhole sensors to monitor well and reservoir conditions, as well as automatically control valves and pumps in response to the information collected in real-time.
Depending on the technology being used in the particular smart well system, down-hole remote sensors can collect real-time data pertaining to pressure, temperature, and fluid composition. This data can be collected and stored and used for tracking trends in data, which can then be used to optimize reservoir management decisions.
Automated controls are a valuable part of implementing smart well software. Automated control systems for assets like valves and pumps use the data acquired by downhole sensors to control inflow and outflow. Responding to well conditions, rather than simply running on a time-clock, can effectively maximize oil yield.
Real-time alert systems can also accompany the monitors and control systems associated with smart wells. These remote monitoring systems allow a quick response to critical conditions or equipment malfunctions either automatically or remotely by operators. This reduces environmental risks and creates a safer on-site working environment.
How to Turn Your Well into a Smart Well
To maximize oil recovery in your oilfield operations, turning your wells into smart wells is the best way to implement effective reservoir management plans and achieve just that. Increase production with smart wells.