More oil from deep-sea reservoirs

A significant portion of available oil remains unexploited after primary production at drilling sites. Novel technology suitable for use on floating platforms will aid in application of proven methods to release much of the oil trapped in the ground by physical forces.

Meeting the world's energy needs is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. One way to offset the lack of energy security associated with the geopolitical landscape is to increase the productivity of existing and future platforms.

Enhanced oil recovery through injection of carbon dioxide (CO2) is a promising technology. However, separation of CO2 from the production stream on floating platforms with conventional fluid solvents is complicated by the motion of the platforms. The EU-funded project 'Offshore gas separation' (OFFGAS) is developing novel nanoporous materials and high-pressure separation processes to solve the problem.

The project brings together universities in Brazil, Spain and the United Kingdom that are conducting world-class research into materials, adsorption and membrane processes. It provides extensive opportunities for knowledge exchange to 23 experienced researchers and numerous early-stage researchers and PhD students. The synergy will foster better understanding, long-lasting partnerships and a spirit of teamwork leading to development of breakthrough technologies.

Thirteen exchanges have already taken place involving both experienced and early-stage researchers, the former of whom have laid out a strategic common research plan. Research and development efforts have led to the synthesis and characterisation of several materials for high-pressure separation of CO2 from the oil production stream. The materials are being integrated into process models to determine the best process options when using these materials in offshore separation.

The technology under development within the scope of the OFFGAS project will be invaluable to both Brazil and the EU. Brazil has important oil reservoirs situated under deep waters where fixed platforms are not feasible. The EU is planning to employ enhanced oil recovery widely in the North Sea.

Aside from aiding national interests, increasing oil recovery from reservoirs in Europe and South America will ease dependence on foreign sources subject to political unrest. Simultaneously, training a host of international researchers in cross-disciplinary methods and techniques will ensure a legacy that continues far beyond the duration of the project itself.

last modification: 2015-06-08 15:25:37

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