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Concerns about future energy supply and recent advancements in technology are leading to a renewed emphasis on Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) as EOR techniques can significantly improve the recovery factors. It is estimated that Saskatchewan has approximately 40 billion barrels of oil in place that is a target for the use of Enhanced Oil Recovery techniques. However, prominent EOR techniques such as CO2 injection have some major economical and technological constraints. The technique requires construction of vast network of pipelines from sources to the target basins and hence a significant capital investment is needed that must be supported by long-term production potential of the target basin. Also, among the many other EOR methods tested, only a few have been found to be commercially successful and it has been experimentally proven that EOR methods can yield maximum up to 60-65% of the original oil in place (OOIP) and the remaining oil to be extracted requires long term commitments in capital and human resources as well as extensive Research and Development in EOR practices. The proposed technique of Underground Residual Oil Gasification (UROG) will exploit the challenges and opportunities of improving the recovery in the form of synthetic gas (syngas) beyond the limits of EOR and will significantly help coping with the future energy challenges of increasing energy demand. The UROG technique has the potential of converting unworked residual oil oil left in the ground into a combustible gas which can be turned into high value products such as liquid fuels, clean power generation or the production of hydrogen, synthetic natural gas, fertilizers and other chemical feedstocks. This technology will allow countries that are rich in heavy oil such as Canada to fully utilize their resource from otherwise unrecoverable oil deposits in an economically friendly and environmentally sound way.
Engineering - chemical / biological
University of Regina
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