How the Technology Works
Samples are taken of oil reservoir fluids.
Microbes within the oil reservoir are studied and analyzed.
Highly specialized medical-grade nutrients are formulated and lab tested on specific species of microbes.
These highly specialized medical-grade nutrients are then injected into the reservoir for particular classes and species of microbes, stimulating only certain colonies of microbes.
Trillions of subterranean colonies of microbes which inhabit the rock face of the pore spaces, feed on the nutrients. Microbes are so small that 5 million can occupy the head of a pin. The nutrients create a dramatic response in the microbe colony.
The nutrients make the population of microbes multiply by approximately 100–1000 times. Each individual microbe first grows larger then shrinks dramatically. During this process a physiological change occurs created by the nutrients which change the skin characteristics of the microbes that causes them to seek and attach to oil droplets—a condition known as oleophilic [oil loving].
The microbe is now inclined to have its skin next to an oily surface and therefore is attracted to the oil droplets trapped inside the pore spaces of the reservoir.
Trillions of microbes now bathe in and attach to the trillions of oil droplets that were “trapped” inside pore spaces.
The microbe activity agitates, separates from the rock face, and uniquely breaks up oil droplets into smaller droplets which can pass through pore throats and be released into the reservoir’s mobile fluid system.
This oil is now for the first time recoverable by conventional means.
Some released oil that is still attached to the microbes travels through the oil formation towards the production well. This “attached” combination of oil, microbes and water as it travels through high-permeability sections of the oil field is agitated and rapidly mixed and forms under this stress a natural emulsion that blocks off these highly permeable sections of the oil field that have created thief zones and channeling. Because of thief zones most of the water eventually is channeled through the path of least resistance (thief zones) and does not sweep into other areas of the reservoir to contact oil. With the emulsions blocking off these thief zones, it forces the injection water to now flow into untapped areas of the reservoir and contact oil and move it through to the production wells.
As a result of this process: 1) Thief zones are blocked allowing for new areas of the reservoir oil to now be contacted by injected water and pushed towards the production well and 2) large amounts of trapped, normally unrecoverable oil within the pore spaces is also released.
Microorganisms have their own propulsion system (a flagella which is a tail-like appendage) so they can get to places in the pore spaces where no other secondary recovery substance (water, vapor or a chemical agent) which depends on injection pressure can penetrate.
Reservoir Characteristics and Microbes
According to the “Handbook of Physical Quantities” by Grigoriev & Meilikous, there are 10 billion grains of fine sand in a cubic foot. In between all these grains are spaces (pore spaces). In sandstones, a cubic foot of fine sand contains over 10 trillion pore spaces. In an oil reservoir there are oil and water molecules occupying and trapped in these pore spaces.
Relating this to the Titan Process, the microbes that will be used in the reservoirs are about 1800 times as small as a fine sand grain. That’s the same ratio of a golf ball to an office building 190 feet tall. Because of their size and propulsion system, the microbes can penetrate the pore spaces and smaller pore throats of the oil-bearing rock and attach to the oil trapped within the pore spaces.
Efficient, Low Cost Recovery
It is now possible that an oil field that has produced 40% of its known resource over a period of time (and is now considered almost depleted) could, with the Titan Process, continue for many years and economically extract significant amounts of the original oil in place.
The eventual failure of secondary oil production procedures to release trapped residual oil results from capillary forces in the oil/water/rock system and the failure of injected fluids to penetrate parts of the reservoir formation. The Titan Process changes this equation.
The Titan Process Versus Other Enhanced Recovery Methods
The Titan Process is superior to the use of surfactants. Surfactants are used to lower the interfacial tension between reservoir fluids and residual oil so that some oil which was not able to be removed by the injected fluids can now be displaced. Surfactants used in chemical EOR (enhanced oil recovery) show optimal activity over a narrow range of temperature, salinities and rock types. Therefore they are limited in application and are significantly more expensive and complex than the Titan Process.
CO2 flooding has had success as a teriary recovery method. Its drawbacks are that it is capital intensive and a CO2 source and pipeline is required with extensive surface equipment. CO2 floods are more expensive to operate than the Titan Process. The Titan Process can also be used with CO2 floods.
Polymers have had some success in enhanced recovery but are acknowledged as a high-cost solution. Polymers can also cause reservoir damage.