Oman uses advanced technology to revive ageing oilfields

Oct 08, 2007 02:00 AM

The Gulf state of Oman is expanding the use of advanced technology to revive its ageing oil fields and maintain the present output in the coming years, according to the country’s main oil operator.
The government-controlled Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), which manages most of the country’s hydrocarbon sector, said it is increasingly deploying the Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) technique to raise recovery rates from its fields and prevent a slide in production.

“The main change of our strategy towards EOR is due to the maturity of our producing oilfields. All fields in the world have limited recovery from primary mechanisms and Oman is no exception,” PDO’s deputy managing director Abdulla al Lamki said in September.
“We operate a portfolio of over 120 fields and in many of them we have already followed up with secondary methods, primarily water floods or gas injection. We have now reached a point where we need to embark on tertiary mechanisms and those are EOR. However, in Oman there is an additional factor, namely the existence of multiple fields with very heavy, viscous oil which require thermal methods to heat the oil and improve recovery.”

He said the average recovery factor is around 21 % from primary and secondary methods and that another 6 % can be added by the application of further secondary and EOR methods.
“However, matching the right EOR technology to individual fields is a complex task. The available processes are not universally applicable as each field has its own unique characteristics. Indeed, for some fields there might not exist at this moment in time an appropriate EOR method. And, more importantly, EOR technology is costly requiring the careful appraisal of each project to ensure that it is economic,” he said. “Unless oil prices are very high many EOR technologies such as the use of chemical surfactants or direct heat injection are not economically viable even though they might be technologically appropriate.”

Lamki said EOR methods would allow PDO to maintain its current production levels for many years to come.
“In the short to medium term, I expect oil production to be within the current target range with the commissioning of EOR projects. So, for the next 8 to 10 years we will be able to maintain our production levels and we are working to find new ways in the next few years to maintain our plateau for longer,” he said.

“Indeed, I am confident that we can.”
“We continue to invest heavily in new exploration in our concession area and we have had some important successes, most notably the Budour Northeast field in Southern Oman.”

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