Salym Petroleum Development N.V. (SPD) jointly with Gazpromneft Science & Technology Center and Shell’s technical specialists have successfully tested a promising chemical enhanced oil recovery method*. Application of ASP** technology at a depleted section of West Salym oil field in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra (KHMAO) made it possible to increase oil recovery factor to 69%. This is nearly twice as high as Russian petroleum industry’s average indicators.

Average oil recovery factor (ORF) in the global practice varies in the range of 20% to 50% – this is how much crude can be obtained by using modern enhanced oil recovery techniques.   In Russian petroleum industry this factor is at the level of 35% on the average. A substantial part of fields today is past the second phase of development where production efficiency is achieved through water injection into formation. Waterflooding helps maintain formation pressure and displace oil into producers. In the third phase of development different enhanced oil recovery methods can be applied, including those using surfactants and polymers. Surfactants reduce surface tension between oil and water, while polymers make water more viscous, making it possible to displace oil from formation towards producers in a more uniform manner.

Within the scope of the pilot project SPD, jointly with Gazprom Neft and Shell, has carried out waterflooding using a mixture of alkali, surfactants, and polymers (ASP-flooding**) which does not affect environment. Development of a pilot project for application of this technology started in 2009 and passed all the phases from laboratory research to field experiment at West Salym field. As a result, it became possible to achieve a 69% oil recovery factor at the pilot section of the field, of which 17% is the effect of ASP flooding.

The pilot project results demonstrate a high potential for application of chemical flooding technology in Western Siberia. A concept has already been developed for implementation of the method within SPD’s West Salym oil field, and locations have also been determined for its potential usage at Gazprom Neft’s fields with similar subsurface conditions.

Opportunities for wide-scale implementation of the technology are limited by the existing taxation model for the industry. Usage of the innovative ASP flooding method makes it possible to enhance production by increasing project value and building additional tax base. However, the cost of technology application, combined with further taxation at the general industry level, makes such projects non-economic. Gazprom Neft, Shell, and SPD specialists have developed proposals regarding economic incentives for implementation of tertiary enhanced oil recovery methods which make it possible to involve residual reserves of depleted fields into development. The proposals are being discussed with relevant governmental agencies.

“Usage of the new technology makes it possible to achieve the results which substantially exceed the industry’s conventional indicators. In the course of pilot testing we managed to recover from the subsoil nearly twice the conventional amount – about 70% of the oil contained in the formation. The opportunity to apply this technology is especially valuable at depleted fields in the regions where production has been in progress for many years now and is naturally declining. Implementation of this method, leveraged by a tax support framework, will breathe a new life into mature assets in traditional oil production regions and will extend the service life of these fields for many time. With establishment of additional tax incentive measures we will be able to recover the oil which will never be produced otherwise. It will result in an undoubted benefit both for the state as tax revenue, the industry through resource base increase, and the regions getting a new incentive for economic development,” Vadim Yakovlev, First Deputy CEO at Gazprom Neft, Head of Exploration and Production, pointed out.

“Enhancing efficiency of field development is a priority for Gazprom Neft. In order to enhance oil recovery of our assets we take part in testing the technologies the development of which involves teams of specialists from various disciplines of science. Such integrated work makes it possible for us to create optimal solutions for each specific field,” Mars Khasanov, Director of Technology Directorate at Gazprom Neft, CEO at Science & Technology Centre, stated.

"This is the first project of its kind in Russia. Its results have demonstrated high process efficiency of ASP method in the conditions of Western Siberia, and are a clear example of sustainable subsoil usage. We have proven that the technology works in Salym, and today we have all the required data available to us for discussion of the roadmap in order to fully implement it in the industry practice, including a tax incentive framework,” Michael Collins, CEO at Salym Petroleum Development N.V., stressed.

As assessed by V.I.Shpilman Research and Analytical Centre for the Rational Use of the Subsoil, application of ASP technology in KHMAO-Ugra alone will make it possible to increase the volume of recoverable oil reserves by 3.8 bn t***.


* Oil recovery (oil recovery factor, ORF) – ratio of recoverable oil reserves value to in-place reserves value.

** ASP (alkali, surfactant, and polymer) – a promising enhanced oil recovery method based on chemical flooding of formation with a three-component mixture. The surfactant reduces the surface tension between oil and water. Alkali protects the surfactant. Polymer is used to increase the viscosity of the mixture. The technology is now actively applied in the USA, Canada, China. Pilot research is in progress in several other countries.

*** Report by V.I.Shpilman Research and Analytical Centre for the Rational Use of the Subsoil: Evaluation of ASP Technology Application in Development of KHMAO-Ugra Oil Fields

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