Laboratory studies of producing hydrogen and incremental oil from light oil reservoirs using downhole gasification

M Greaves, T X Xia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The idea of gasifying (reforming) a fraction of a light crude oil in the reservoir, was conceived originally by Davidson and Yule((1)). This involved "stringing" a series of downhole gasification (DHG) units along either a horizontal producer well or vertical producer well, or along some other suitable well arrangement.

Although catalytic steam reforming of naphtha practiced on a large scale has been extensively researched, such understanding is largely restricted to much lower pressures than those investigated in the present study. We present results obtained using a small, "pilot-scale" DHG unit, or reforming reactor, operated at up to 100 bar pressure. The feed to this unit was a light naphtha fraction cut from Statfjord crude oil. The effect of pressure, catalyst loading, steam to hydrocarbon ratio and gasifier temperature were investigated.

Essentially, the conversion to inert gases, principally hydrogen and carbon dioxide, at high pressure was sufficiently high to make the process technically feasible in depleted light oil reservoirs. Furthermore, the economics of this novel enhanced oil recovery process, which also produces (and stores) hydrogen, appear to be very favourable. However, the experiments, which were conducted under pilot-scale conditions using a single tube reactor unit, were not of sufficient duration time to test the long-term effects on catalyst activity owing to carbon fouling and sulphur poisoning. These factors (at least carbon deposition) can be controlled as demonstrated in the experiments by adjusting the steam-to-hydrocarbon ratio and the depth of naphtha-cut taken from the crude oil. These aspects of the process are to be further investigated in a Phase 2 project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-70
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Canadian Petroleum Technology
Volume49
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

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