In the month of July 2017 KFUPM licensed an invention (pending for patent in GCC Patent Office) related to controlling water in oil / gas wells. The license was offered to a local company MODERN NATIONAL CHEMICALS (MN-Chem) to commercially use the patent pending invention (manufacture or sell) in GCC region.
MN-Chem is a 100% Saudi Arabian owned chemical research and manufacturing entity registered in year 2017 and envisions to be the largest producer of quality oilfield chemicals and chemical-based solutions to the energy sector of Saudi Arabia. The company’s current product offerings range from Solvents, De-Emulsifiers, Corrosion inhibitors, H2S Scavengers, Asphaltene Inhibitors, Iron control Agents, and various Surfactants.
MNChem expects to get the product to market by year 2020 after developing the technology for industrial use, perform testing at industry scale and registering the product with end-user.
About the invention
On average, every barrel of crude oil produces about 7–10 barrels of produced water. However, there is cost associated with handling of such water during oil exploration which adds to cost of operations. Produced water cost petroleum industry globally an estimated $45 billion in 2002. In addition, water limits the productive life of the oil well, it causes corrosion of exploration equipment, there is an environmental concern with its disposal – to name a few disadvantages. One of the ways the water is controlled is by chemical treatment by injecting polymer gel into the well. The polymer gel closes the openings / pores and stops / controls the water flow. In some other situations complete closing of water may not be needed, and minimizing permeability of reservoir rock may only be needed. In both these cases ‘surfactant‘ (‘emulsifier‘) is added to emulsify / stabilize the polymer solution.
This invention offers an alternative emulsifier and reinforcing agent that enhances the strength of polymer gel (to minimize high permeability) and controls stability of polymer gel emulsion.
Saudi Arabia is the largest user of oilfield chemicals in Middle East. According to “Saudi Arabia Oilfield Chemicals Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2020”, the oilfield chemicals market in Saudi Arabia is projected to surpass USD960 million by 2020, making the country one of the fastest growing markets in the world.
As the fields in Saudi Arabia age the production of water relative to the oil production would gradually increase and solutions are needed to remedy this situation. In addition there is a need for developing oil production in a number of currently non-producing areas. Saudi Arabia produced roughly 10.46 million barrels of crude oil per day (bpd) in 2016. So, there is a large business opportunity for managing produced water in this region. The current invention can help companies limit the barrel of water produced with a barrel of oil extracted especially helpful with maturing oil fields, thus reducing operating expenses for the companies (which is critical during the present oil economic climate).
The inventors include Dr. Abdullah Sultan and Engr. Ahmad Adewunmi from College of Petroleum and Geosciences, Dr. Ibnelwaleed Hussein (a former faculty member from Chemical Engineering), Dr. Khalid El-Karsani (a graduate alumni from Chemical Engineering) and Dr. Ghaithan A. Al-Muntasheri (researcher from Saudi Aramco).