Will Toe-to-Heel Air Injection Extend the Oil Age ?  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

Kurt Cobb has an article at Scitizen on a new enhanced oil recovery technique (saying nothing about the greenhouse gas emissions, which are presumably horrendous) - Will Toe-to-Heel Air Injection Extend the Oil Age?.

Currently, the energy for extracting oil from underground must come from the fuel and equipment on the surface. But what if the main source of energy for extracting oil could come from the oil deposit itself? And, what if the method for doing this could provide us with access to oil not amenable to conventional extraction techniques while minimizing disruption of the surface and any associated pollution? This is what the developers of an oil recovery technique called toe-to-heel air injection or THAI suggest they are able to accomplish. And, the technique could increase appreciably the percentage of the world's vast heavy oil resources that we are able to exploit.

The oil the engineers and scientists at Petrobank, the patent holder, have in mind is so viscous that it is not easily budged from its hiding places below the surface. There are other techniques already in use for extracting this oil. But they typically require copious amounts of both water (usually in the form of steam) and energy to work. The THAI process, however, burns some of the oil in the underground deposit in a way that makes the remaining oil flow to the surface on its own through production wells.

This isn't a bonfire, but rather more like a charcoal fire, very hot (400 to 600 degrees C) without flames. Petrobank claims that THAI burns about 10 percent of the oil in place to accomplish its task. The oil is first heated to about 100 degrees C using steam injection. So far this sounds like conventional steam injection technology. But once this critical temperature is reached, the oil is ignited and only air is injected to keep the oil burning. The burning oil creates additional heat which makes the heavy oil flow more easily, and the combustion gases drive the flowing oil toward and up a set of production wells without any pumping. There are other fire flooding techniques. But the particular methods and well configuration of THAI hold great promise for vastly increasing ultimate recovery while minimizing pollution and well failure.

Petrobank claims recovery of between 70 and 80 percent of original oil in place, a truly astounding number. Even if this result proves to be reproducible on a large scale, it won't mean that all heavy oil deposits will be amenable to the THAI process. Some deposits might be too scattered to be economical. Others might not be sufficiently saturated to allow adequate burning and thus high enough temperatures. Yet others might be too close to the surface in which case the fire might break through. Finally, geology, remote location and poor associated infrastructure might make many potential deposits financially too risky to exploit.


Post a Comment


Locations of visitors to this page

blogspot visitor
Stat Counter

Total Pageviews




Blog Archive


australia (619) global warming (423) solar power (397) peak oil (355) renewable energy (302) electric vehicles (250) wind power (194) ocean energy (165) csp (159) solar thermal power (145) geothermal energy (144) energy storage (142) smart grids (140) oil (139) solar pv (138) tidal power (137) coal seam gas (131) nuclear power (129) china (120) lng (117) iraq (113) geothermal power (112) green buildings (110) natural gas (110) agriculture (91) oil price (80) biofuel (78) wave power (73) smart meters (72) coal (70) uk (69) electricity grid (67) energy efficiency (64) google (58) internet (50) surveillance (50) bicycle (49) big brother (49) shale gas (49) food prices (48) tesla (46) thin film solar (42) biomimicry (40) canada (40) scotland (38) ocean power (37) politics (37) shale oil (37) new zealand (35) air transport (34) algae (34) water (34) arctic ice (33) concentrating solar power (33) saudi arabia (33) queensland (32) california (31) credit crunch (31) bioplastic (30) offshore wind power (30) population (30) cogeneration (28) geoengineering (28) batteries (26) drought (26) resource wars (26) woodside (26) censorship (25) cleantech (25) bruce sterling (24) ctl (23) limits to growth (23) carbon tax (22) economics (22) exxon (22) lithium (22) buckminster fuller (21) distributed manufacturing (21) iraq oil law (21) coal to liquids (20) indonesia (20) origin energy (20) brightsource (19) rail transport (19) ultracapacitor (19) santos (18) ausra (17) collapse (17) electric bikes (17) michael klare (17) atlantis (16) cellulosic ethanol (16) iceland (16) lithium ion batteries (16) mapping (16) ucg (16) bees (15) concentrating solar thermal power (15) ethanol (15) geodynamics (15) psychology (15) al gore (14) brazil (14) bucky fuller (14) carbon emissions (14) fertiliser (14) matthew simmons (14) ambient energy (13) biodiesel (13) investment (13) kenya (13) public transport (13) big oil (12) biochar (12) chile (12) cities (12) desertec (12) internet of things (12) otec (12) texas (12) victoria (12) antarctica (11) cradle to cradle (11) energy policy (11) hybrid car (11) terra preta (11) tinfoil (11) toyota (11) amory lovins (10) fabber (10) gazprom (10) goldman sachs (10) gtl (10) severn estuary (10) volt (10) afghanistan (9) alaska (9) biomass (9) carbon trading (9) distributed generation (9) esolar (9) four day week (9) fuel cells (9) jeremy leggett (9) methane hydrates (9) pge (9) sweden (9) arrow energy (8) bolivia (8) eroei (8) fish (8) floating offshore wind power (8) guerilla gardening (8) linc energy (8) methane (8) nanosolar (8) natural gas pipelines (8) pentland firth (8) saul griffith (8) stirling engine (8) us elections (8) western australia (8) airborne wind turbines (7) bloom energy (7) boeing (7) chp (7) climategate (7) copenhagen (7) scenario planning (7) vinod khosla (7) apocaphilia (6) ceramic fuel cells (6) cigs (6) futurism (6) jatropha (6) nigeria (6) ocean acidification (6) relocalisation (6) somalia (6) t boone pickens (6) local currencies (5) space based solar power (5) varanus island (5) garbage (4) global energy grid (4) kevin kelly (4) low temperature geothermal power (4) oled (4) tim flannery (4) v2g (4) club of rome (3) norman borlaug (2) peak oil portfolio (1)