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“EсoOil’s” scientists became another step closer to the underground oil refining

Pilot tests of the technology of catalytic refining of oil inside the reservoir will be held this year at the fields of 2 Russian companies – “Tatneft” and “Zarubezhneft”.

The idea of oil processing underground, which was voiced several years ago in conversations about the distant future of the oil industry, may soon come to life. Scientists of the priority direction of “EcoOil” of Kazan Federal University declared readiness to carry out pilot tests of technology of underground catalytic refining of oil already this year. As objects for testing the selected Ashalchinskoye field, owned by the PJSC “Tatneft”, the field of Boca de Jaruco in Cuba, developed by JSC “Zarubezhneft”. Such plans were announced in the framework of the all-Russian venture fair held last week in Kazan. It should be reminded that a group of scientists of “EcoOil” headed by the Vice-rector for scientific activity of KFU Danis Nurgaliev and the head of the priority direction Mikhail Varfolomeev presented at the Forum the latest developments in the field of oil production. The exposition of Kazan Federal University was visited by President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and Russian presidential aide Andrei Fursenko.

One of the most know-how, presented the honorary guests and other Forum members, have become catalysts based on transition metals, was developed by the laboratory “in Situ combustion”. These are oil-soluble catalysts that promote cracking reactions and break the carbon – sulfur, carbon – carbon and carbon – oxygen bonds. Thus, there is a decrease in the molecular weight of heavy components, reducing their concentration, reducing the number of heteroatoms-nitrogen, sulfur and oxygen. All this leads to a decrease in viscosity and improve the quality of heavy oil produced. Of course, it is not necessary to talk about the full processing of oil in the traditional sense (as it happens in the factories), but thanks to the catalysts, further field preparation, transportation to the plants and subsequent processing are simplified.

We have taken mainly those metals that are used as catalysts in the traditional processing of oil in factories in the form of solid dispersed particles, or, simply put, powder. And since these catalysts are not delivered to the reservoir in the form of powder, we transferred the transition metals to an oil-soluble state with the help of organic ligands. Subsequently, these oil-soluble compounds under the influence of temperature and pressure inside the formation are destroyed, the metal ion is released, which reacts with the heteroatoms already present in the oil – oxygen and sulfur. In this form the active form of the oxides and sulfides of metals, which, in fact, are the very catalysts for oil refining“, – told us about the mechanism of the catalysts, senior scientific researcher of the laboratory “in Situ combustion” Sergei Sitnov.

The laboratory emphasizes that with the help of initiated processes it is impossible to get gasoline from the well at once. There is a preliminary oil refining due to the destruction of high-molecular compounds. In addition, the area of coverage of the reservoir increases, the permeability of rocks increases, due to which there is a significant increase in the volume of oil produced. As we have already said, the development has proved to be very popular – this year PJSC Tatneft and JSC Zarubezhneft are planning pilot tests of catalysts directly at the fields – ashalchinsky in the South-East of Tatarstan and Boca de Haruko in Cuba. Note that the catalysts for each selected taking into account the “individual” features.

These two fields are fundamentally different. First, different collector – at Ashalchinskoye this terrigenous rocks, Cuba – carbonate reservoirs. Secondly, the depth of occurrence is different – up to 100 meters here in Tatarstan and about 600 in Cuba. Therefore, we selected different catalysts from the whole line through various tests – for Tatneft on the basis of one metal, and for Zarubezhneft on the basis of a completely different one. These catalysts proved to most effective when proposed conditions“, – has shared details senior scientific researcher of the laboratory “in Situ combustion” Irek Muhametdinov.

It should be noted that the developed technology is quite unpretentious. From the mandatory conditions for the” inclusion ” of catalysts can be called only the temperature in the reservoir. A noticeable improvement in the quality of oil occurs at a temperature of not less than 200 ° C. And taking into account the fact that the catalysts are used in combination with steam-heat action (SAGD technology), and this condition does not seem significant.

The second catalyst, based on copper, presented at the all-Russian venture forum, is also intended for underground refining, but unlike the first, it is used to control the process of oil oxidation during intra-combustion. Its development involved within the research laboratory “Rheological and thermochemical research.”

Our catalyst has successfully passed all the necessary tests and testing and has shown very good results. With its help, it was possible to reduce the oxidation temperature, reduce the amount of energy needed. The viscosity is reduced, and the rate of oil recovery is growing,” said Junior scientific researcher of the laboratory “Rheological and thermochemical research,” Munir, Suvad.

Currently, scientists developed “EcoOil” catalyst preparing a patent for China and Russia. It is possible that it will also be pilot tested at the field, but in China.