ExxonMobil has awarded the first
license for its patented steam injection system and production
method to Baker Hughes to improve the efficiency of in-situ oil
sands projects, the companies announced on Wednesday.
Approximately 80% of
Canadas oil sands can be produced using in-situ
technology, which involves the injection of steam to enable
bitumen to be extracted through drilling versus surface
The ExxonMobil-patented technology provides more effective
regulation and distribution of steam in long horizontal wells
for in-situ oil sands production, the company said.
The technology reduces the
number of wells needed, lowers operating costs by reducing
steam consumption and improves overall recovery from the
The technology can be used in cyclic
steam stimulation (CSS), steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD)
and steam flood (SF) heavy oil production projects.
The technology was developed by
Imperial Oil Ltd., an ExxonMobil Canadian affiliate, and
applied at the Imperial
Cold Lake oil sands project.
We have demonstrated that
our technology can improve the economics
and the environmental performance of oil sands projects, said Sara Ortwein,
president of ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company.
This is one of several
significant technologies we have developed over the past five
decades for improving oil sands production, she
The steam injection technology
has two key components:
- An externally mounted screen
section that enables excellent contact between the well and
the reservoir, and
- One or more small flow
orifices beneath the screen section that creates the desired
level of flow restriction between the inside of the pipe and
The technology enables control of steam into the formation over
the entire length of the horizontal well, the company said.
For SAGD applications, this
technology can be used on both injector and producer wells to
manage steam distribution and oil production from the
This robust technology has
proven itself in oil sands applications in Canada by increasing
the efficiency of the injected steam and improving ultimate
recovery, which translates into lower CO2 emissions per barrel
of oil produced, said Eddie Lui, Imperial Oil Resources
vice president for oil sands development and research. We
have seen CO2 reductions of up to 10% compared to traditional
vertical CSS completions.
This steam-injection technology benefits in-situ oil
sands operations through its ability to design and control
distribution of steam and is a fitting addition to our wide
portfolio of capabilities in Canada, where heavy oil producers
look to Baker Hughes for solutions to the unique challenges of
oil sands projects, said Mike Davis,
president of Baker Hughes International Canada.