IIT Madras Develops Efficient Oil Extraction Process

IIT Madras Develops Efficient Oil Extraction Process

Researchers at IIT Madras are developing indigenous processes for efficient recovery of oil from mature offshore wells. In Collaboration with the research laboratories in Australia and headed by professor Dr.JitendraSangwai, IIT Madras researchers are studying the efficacy of an emerging enhanced oil recovery method called ‘Low-Salinity Enhanced Oil Recovery.’

Domestic crude oil production is currently insufficient in India to meet the nation’s energy demand. And thus, the Government of India approved fiscal incentives last year to enhance oil and gas recovery from ageing and new fields, which can potentially raise the production of oil by 120 million tones.

Speaking about his research, Dr.Jitendra , Professor (Petroleum Engineering), Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT Madras, says, “Our research aims to develop indigenous methods for recovery of crude oil from geological reservoirs, which is a complex process. There is still much that needs to be understood in the use of LSEOR methods. We do not yet have a clear idea on the mechanism of wettability alteration that can be caused by factors such as oil composition, salt levels in water, acidity of the crude oil, mineralogy of the rock and other factors.”

The process of improving wettability of oil- bearing rocks for better recovery through water injection can be attained by reducing the salinity content of sea water that is injected into the rock, as the presence of certain divalent cations can change the wettability of the rock. And thus, Low-Salinity Enhanced Oil Recovery (LSEOR) has been gaining interest in the recent years for better oil recovery from offshore reservoirs.

The oil is extracted through the water injection method, a secondary oil recovery process, where sea water is injected into the oil-bearing porous rocks and the water pushes the oil out. The efficiency of the process depends upon the wettability of the oil bearing rock. Although limestone and sandstone are water wettable rocks by nature, they can become water repellent due to their oil content.  This results in poor wetting and inefficient oil extraction.

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