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Oil Reservoir & Environmental Technologies

Water Shutoff in Oil-Producing Wells Using Microbial Technology

While working on microbially enhanced oil recovery techniques, the INL became aware that microbial processes could be used to plug water zones in oil-producing wells to reduce produced water quantities, and procured internal funds to evaluate this potential. Results of our initial evaluation were very positive.

We showed that a highly effective, stable (above 5 months), in-depth plug can be created in the formation surrounding the production wellbore with a single injection of bacteria and nutrients. In linear sandpacks, permeability was reduced from 7000 mD to 200 mD. In a bench-scale model of an oil-producing well, water cut was reduced from 95 to 50%, and the oil production rate remained unchanged. We presented our results to industry at the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) 1996 Eastern Regional meeting and in a paper published in SPE Production & Facilities (May 1998).

The next step is to field test the technique. This would involve matching the bacteria to the downhole conditions (especially temperature) and optimizing the cost of the nutrients. We are looking for funding and farsighted partners who have water production problems and are willing to use a new technology to reduce the amount of water being produced from their field.

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