Paper IOR-C32: Downhole Gasification for Improved Oil Recovery

Malcolm Greaves, T X Xia, R R Rathbone, A H Bentaher

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


A new, unique, IOR concept has been investigated for application in light oil reservoirs that have been previously water flooded, but which can be applied at any stage of oil production. The method operates via GSGI (gravity stabilized gas injection), but does not require the injection of displacement gas from the surface. Instead, gas is generated in situ, using a downhole (underground) gasification unit. The economics of the process, in terms of the energy required to produce a barrel of incremental oil appear to be very attractive. In addition to additional oil, the process also produces hydrogen, and other inert gases. These gases can be stored in the reservoir for future use. The primary scope for applying the method appears to be in watered flooded reservoirs, or other depleted light oil reservoirs, in which the pressure has been reduced to less than 150 bar if co-evaporation of oil and water is employed. However, if water (steam) is injected separately, then there is no restriction on reservoir pressure, within the limits of economic operation. The paper reports the first, preliminary set of results for downhole gasification. A small experimental gasifier was developed to simulate the steam reforming of 'light naphtha' fractions, cut from light crude oils. Although designed for operation up to 800 °C and 140 bar pressure, the continuous flow system was restricted in these trials to around 75 bar pressure. The commissioning and preliminary trials used methane gas as feedstock, inorder to test if it was possible to convert methane to hydrogen and other gases at significantly higher pressures compared to conditions used in surface reforming plant. Methane is also a very significant component of most reservoir oils and therefore has an important influence on how much displacement gas can be produced. The initial experiments achieved a hydrogen concentration in the reformer-gasifier exit gas of nearly 60%. Further trials were also made using a reservoir gas.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005
Event13th European Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery - Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 25 Apr 200527 Apr 2005


Conference13th European Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery


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