There is no need to explain what place oil occupies in the global and Russian economy. Meanwhile, the extraction of black gold requires more and more advanced technologies, not only because of the “green agenda”, but also because of the decrease in easily accessible mining sites and deposits of sufficiently high-quality raw materials. We will talk about the most remarkable domestic patents in this area in our material.
Almost everywhere, greener technologies are one of the main areas of development, and the oil industry is no exception. Yes, in 2020 began to appear additional funding for R&D in the field of low-carbon energy from governments. However, at the same time, R&D costs in this area by private organizations began to decrease, but mainly due to a decrease in income during the crisis.
The IEA estimates that by 2030, governments around the world will allocate about $50 billion to develop large-scale low-carbon energy technologies. Particularly interesting are investments from Japan, which include almost $20 billion.
Along with this, technologies for maximizing the use of resources and extraction even from hard-to-reach places are becoming increasingly important. This is due to the gradual depletion of traditional reserves with a steady demand for oil and refined products.
Separately, it is worth mentioning the trend of digitalization. So, three at once large Russian companies have large-scale projects in this area or have already received the first results. For example, Gazprom has already managed to save over 7 billion rubles through the introduction of digitalization.
Advanced Detailed Rock Analysis
Modern drilling methods include the ability to automatically explore the rocks directly in the process of drilling a well. The technology of detailed sludge analysis itself is not entirely new, but modern technologies allow obtaining data at a completely different level than at the beginning of this century. The information obtained is used for further modeling, exploration and production planning.
The installation for the analysis of sludge is partly described, for example, by a patent RU2564303 from 2012. In general, such installations include at least 6 technologies, including: nuclear magnetic logging tools (for example, patent RU117648 from 2011 describes a magnetic system for nuclear magnetic logging using cryogenic technologies), X-ray fluoroscopy, high-resolution digital microscopes, a gamma ray measurement instrument, etc.
Improving hydraulic fracturing
Even with regard to methods that have become classical, there are new ideas. For example, the technology of hydraulic fracturing, which has existed since the 1860s (injection of water, gas, or something else into a well to increase the recovery of oil from it), is being actively improved. Literally in September 2022, the Tyumen Oil Research Center registered a patent RU2779501, describing a method of waterflooding a formation that is heterogeneous in geological structure. Such technologies may in the future make it possible to extract oil even from the most difficult wells to develop.
The composition of the mixture injected into the reservoirs is also significantly improved. So, in this regard, nanotechnologies began to be used – particles are mixed with water and change its properties or the properties of the rock itself. Sometimes the process is aided by the addition of chemicals. This method allows more efficient washing of oil from surfaces.
Candidate of Technical Sciences Vadim Akhmetgareev also wrote about his successful participation in the development of nanoparticles from wood and coal ash. The result is an equally effective, but cheaper material. Vadim also mentions that to improve the washability of oil, the injection of “smart” water with a skillfully selected composition of salts and other components is also used. To remove unwanted elements (for example, deposits of paraffin), ultrasonic waves of certain frequencies are now used.
The data obtained during drilling are used, among other things, for seismic modeling, when three-dimensional models are created. The idea itself began to develop in the 1980s. The method allows you to understand what is between the tested wells. 4D modeling is recognized as the latest technology. It allows you to track changes in terrain and layers already in time, to find out how the layers were formed. The systems for both creating and processing the received data use smart technologies and machine learning.
Moreover, a 3D or 4D copy of the geological space is used to plan further work – all changes to the model (injection of water or gas, drilling of new, including horizontal, wells, hydraulic fracturing, etc.) lead to the same consequences , which is in reality. But it takes much less money and time. For example, “a method for constructing a reversible 3D hydrodynamic earth model calibrated in real time while drilling” describes the patent RU2321064.
In general, geophysical research is gaining more and more opportunities thanks to information technology, and there are many patents and applications in this area. One of the most recent is a patent from 2019 by Gazpromneft NTC LLC RU2700836. It describes a way to predict reservoir saturation based on available data. Reservoirs are usually layers of minerals that can accumulate oil in their composition or microcracks, returning it during processing.
Electrical exploration and high-density seismic UniQ
Methods are also considered industry innovations, at least in Russia. Thus, for the first time, new technologies for geological exploration were introduced by Gazprom in 2012. In fact, UniQ technology is a whole complex of equipment that provides high-resolution continuous seismic surveys. Moreover, the system is capable of operating at high temperatures and in complex geological areas.
Ray modeling technology
Despite the fact that ray modeling itself is a rather specific method, its use allows one to work with the complex structure of the studied wave field of the geological strata. For the first time in Russia, the technology was also introduced by Gazprom, and improved with special software. It allows you to calculate the optimal layout of wave excitation sources and recording devices based on data on the geological features of the area and information received in the past.
The idea of a new storage of oil in underground reservoirs of permafrost dispersed rocks is gradually developing. The cavity in the rock is first settled, then cleaned, and after filling with oil, it is automatically sealed.
This type of storage requires monitoring of weather and other conditions, but still remains the best option for long-term storage. At the same time, the technology is almost completely safe and environmentally friendly. The similarity of such an underground storage is described, for example, in a patent RU2332574.
It is difficult to list all the technologies of the oil industry, especially taking into account foreign experience. Exist entire directories innovative developments with a description of their competitive advantages, describing patents and application experience. And not all developments are patentable. Many still remain know-how.
The era of oil, despite the green agenda, continues. Both Russian and foreign companies are looking for the most efficient and environmentally friendly ways to extract black gold. Already in this century, technology has stepped far ahead. We will talk about the most interesting developments in the patent portfolios of domestic enterprises in the following materials.