César Ruiz
General Manager
Tekna Services
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View from the Top

Increased Production Without Additional Equipment Made Possible

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 12:58

Q: How can Tekna Services help its partners increase production without incorporating additional equipment?

A: Our approach is to initially evaluate the historical record of the well or field, which includes information on operations and production. The parameters are then correlated to make a diagnostic on production, which allows us to examine the initial conditions and determine if it is possible to reactivate the well without adding equipment. Sometimes it is just a matter of conditioning the infrastructure already in the wellhead. These are the first steps in helping clients focus on optimization and improved production with minimal investments. The collected information is also useful to model systems aimed at optimizing the client’s existing pieces of equipment. In these cases, we carry out geological studies to learn about the well’s history. Some areas have 2,500 wells that need to be rehabilitated, but this has to be done according to the operating conditions and the wells’ productive life. Currently, operators are favoring the optimization of existing wells over the construction of new ones. It is not feasible to think about building a new well that will cost US$20 million without looking at ways to optimize the available resources, and a small improvement on an existing well will yield profitable results.

Q: Where does secondary recovery fit in your approach to increasing production?

A: Secondary recovery comes into play when we quantify the necessary values during a feasibility study. By running the data through specialized software, we see the reservoir’s development and determine if this will produce large amounts of water, if it will be invaded with gas, or if the oil needs mechanical assistance to ensure its flow. This allows us to determine if the well needs a secondary recovery method based on fluid injection or wellhead optimization. Secondary recovery has to be tailored to the well’s specific traits so that it can be done in a profitable way, since nobody will invest a single dollar that will not yield returns. If we understand this and work under these market conditions, companies like Tekna will be successful and over time, operators will adopt different business models based on efficiency. That is the role of secondary recovery.

Q: How does Tekna work with heavy crudes?

A: The difficulty in some wells with optimal conditions relates to heavy and extra-heavy oil. Reservoirs with oil of 6-12° API lack enough pressure. In this cases, the solution involves breaking the paradigm, and one option we see consists of taking gas from the lines or the well itself when possible and after heating it to high temperatures and pressurizing it, we inject it back into the well. The gas will not change the physical characteristics of the oil, but it will make it flow easily, reducing friction and making it more manageable. Once the oil reaches the surface, the same technology is applied to the pipelines, and with some additional pumping, the heavy crude can be transported to the separator or even the refineries. Other technologies do not use gas, using siphon-like automated mechanisms instead. These tools are installed in the bottom of the well and allow the oil to move up, but it cannot go back to the reservoir, so the oil accumulates, ensuring a constant output. This instrument reduces operation and maintenance costs by preventing the installation of additional machinery, increasing the efficiency of production. Similar technologies will not yield 60 barrels as everyone would like, but they will produce an additional 10 barrels that are much appreciated in the current landscape, particularly if the production is constant.

Q: What is the application of your microorganism-based technology?

A: This is a secondary recovery method that places enzymes in the reservoirs to feed on paraffin and asphaltenes, preventing the oil from getting stuck in the pipe or the formation. As a result, production becomes stable under regular conditions, artificial lifts become more efficient, and the flow becomes more efficient in wells with difficult conditions. As the microorganisms grow, they develop colonies that migrate where there are more nutritional resources (paraffin and asphaltene), so they move adjacent reservoirs. At the moment, this approach is too costly considering the industry’s situation, but it will become an important secondary recovery method soon and we are already looking for wells where this technology could be applied.