Scientists at Aberdeen University are developing a new production method that could be a “game-changer” for North Sea gas.
Academics from the institution’s School of Engineering are exploring harnessing the potential of nanotechnology in order to improve the production efficiency of cyclic gas wells.
The project is being supported by the Aberdeen-based Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), as well as industrial partners Chrysaor, Schlumberger and ChampionX.
The research aims to produce so-called ‘smart fluids’ using tiny particles, which can then be used to significantly improve foam performance, a method of well production.
More commonly associated with medical science, nanotechnology concerns engineering carried out on a molecular or atomic level.
Dr Amin Sharifi, one of the scientists heading up the project, said: “There are challenges associated with the gas production from mature reservoirs where reservoir pressure is low and gas production may become uneconomic using the current technologies.
“We have been discussing these issues with oil and gas companies since 2018, and based on fundamental research has been carried out here at the School of Engineering, we are using nanotechnology to develop smart fluids that have the potential to overcome these challenges.
“Over the next 15 months we aim to prove that this technology will work, and if successful we will then move to a North Sea field trial in 2021.”
His colleague Dr Roozbeh Rafati added: “The potential for this technology is huge, with significant annual production improvements foreseen per gas well. Not only will it provide economic benefit through operational savings, but it will also offer an environmentally friendly solution compared to current technologies. We believe it will be a game-changer for the industry.”
Craig Hodge, project engineer at the OGTC, said: “The development of nanotechnology to improve foam performance used as a method of artificial lift, has exciting potential to be a cost effective means of significantly increasing recovery from low pressure, water loaded gas fields.
“Engineering nanoparticles to enhance foam performance and stability will not only maximise the uptime of wells, but will improve the environmental profile of foamer treatments through reduced chemical demand.”
Scott McCrorie, vice president of technical assurance & innovation at Chrysaor, added: “the development and deployment of this innovative technology will reduce the recycle time on our cyclic gas wells, enhancing recovery and improving both plant efficiency and carbon intensity.”