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Importance of oil and gas in our daily life

New Exploration Methods for Oil and Gas In the unrelenting search for more oil and gas, innovation plays an unquestionable role. As large oil and gas fields become increasingly difficult to find, geologists, geophysicists and engineers employ new technologies, such as seismic, to uncover resources that just 10 years ago were unimaginable.

Seismic is a technology that bounces sound waves off rock formations deep below the surface of the Earth to provide explorers with a picture of the subsurface, often revealing locations where oil and gas may be trapped. The system will help geoscientists examine and interact with 3D models of the Earth. In order to process the massive amounts of information collected from seismic surveys, mathematicians, physicists and other scientists are constantly developing new computer algorithms to find complex patterns that enhance our understanding of the land beneath us.

If we are to continue finding new fields hidden deep inside the Earth, breakthroughs in computer processing power and data management are necessary. How Do We Get to the Oil?

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The oil and natural gas we use today have been trapped deep inside the Earth for millions of years. Although it is tempting to think of oil and gas reservoirs as large pools and wells with giant straws that suck the fluid to the surface, oil and gas is actually locked inside the rocks like water in a sponge.

Just like the small holes in a sponge that collect and hold water, there are tiny spaces or pores in rocks that fill with oil and gas.

For the past 100 years, oil and gas was extracted from rocks with small pores that were still big enough that the fluids flowed easily.

  1. Water-based drilling mud is composed primarily of clay, water and small amounts of chemical additives to address particular subsurface conditions that may be encountered.
  2. The first step is to complete the well — that is, to perform whatever operations are necessary to start the well fluids flowing to the surface.
  3. In order to process the massive amounts of information collected from seismic surveys, mathematicians, physicists and other scientists are constantly developing new computer algorithms to find complex patterns that enhance our understanding of the land beneath us.

If you were a tiny molecule of oil, flowing through these rocks would be like driving on a highway in the express lane. During this time period, geologists and engineers knew about other large quantities of hydrocarbons trapped in rocks with even smaller and more complex pores, but were unable to harness the resource—the oil and gas flowed too slowly or not at all from these rocks.

Instead of driving on a large and fast importance of oil and gas in our daily life, flowing through these rocks would be like driving on a small two-lane road with many stoplights and intersections. Conventional gas wells drilled into these formations were considered uneconomic since the gas locked in the rock would flow out of the tiny pores in the rock at such low rates.

This picture changed, and changed in a big way, with the advent of stimulated horizontal wells. Drilling Location Before the technology advances of the past few decades, the best place to put a well was directly above the anticipated location of the oil or gas reservoir.

The well would then be drilled vertically to the targeted oil or gas formation. Technology now allows the industry to drill directionally from a site up to 5 miles 8 km away from the target area.

Engineers can even target an area the size of a small room more than a mile underground! This directional drilling technology means that the industry can avoid placing wells in environmentally sensitive areas or other inaccessible locations yet still access the oil or gas that lies under those areas. Drilling Process In simplified terms, the drilling process uses a motor, either at the surface or downhole, to turn a string of pipe with a drill bit connected to the end.

While the well is being drilled, a fluid, called drilling mud, circulates down the inside of the drill pipe, passes through holes in the drill bit and travels back up the wellbore to the surface. The drilling mud has two purposes: To carry the small bits of rock, or cuttings, from the drilling process to the surface so they can be removed. To fill the wellbore with fluid to equalize pressure and prevent water or other fluids in underground formations from flowing into the wellbore during drilling.

Water-based drilling mud is composed primarily of clay, water and small amounts of chemical additives to address particular subsurface conditions that may be encountered. In deep wells, oil-based drilling mud is used because water-based mud cannot stand up to the higher temperatures and conditions encountered.

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The petroleum industry has developed technologies to minimize the environmental effects of the drilling fluids it uses, recycling as much as possible. The development of environmentally friendly fluids and additives is an important area of research of the oil and gas industry.

Even with the best technology, drilling a well does not always mean that oil or gas will be found. If oil or gas is not found in commercial quantities, the well is called a dry hole. Sometimes, the well encounters oil or gas, but the reservoir is determined to be unlikely to produce in commercial quantities. Technology has increased the success rate of finding commercial oil or gas deposits with less waste and a smaller impact on the surface.

The surrounding rock formation is then hydraulically fractured to release the oil or gas trapped inside. In hydraulic fracturing, massive trucks pump thousands of gallons of fluid into the rock at very high pressures in order to force the rock to crack. These cracks are then propped open with sand to allow a highly conductive passage through which the oil or gas can flow.

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In shale fields, as many as 15 major fractures are placed along the horizontal wellbore, serving to connect all those small two-lane roads to wide boulevards and even larger, faster highways.

Currently, the limits of this technology are being pushed back every day in order to unleash giant gas resources. In the future, this technology will have to go even farther to allow more fractures and longer horizontal wells. Advances in this area will undoubtedly transform our energy landscape. For more information on shale gas and horizontal drilling, see Modern Shale Gas: A Primer from the U. Drilling Costs Once a company identifies where the oil or gas may be located, it then begins planning to drill an exploratory well.

  • We have seen it before and we will see it again, when the energy industry thrives, Canada reaps the benefits;
  • Advances in this area will undoubtedly transform our energy landscape;
  • The dilemma right now is the logistics involved in getting our products to the desired markets;
  • One perspective from Energy In Depth 2016, demonstrates how heavily the healthcare industry relies on petroleum products to save and positively impact lives everyday;
  • This has caused much hardship with thousands of layoffs, stagnant growth, and reduced investment.

Drilling a well is expensive: Getting the Oil Out Locating a suitable site for drilling is just the first step in extracting oil. Before drilling can begin, companies must make sure that they have the legal right to drill, and that the impact of drilling on the environment is acceptable.

This can take years. Once they finally have the go ahead, drilling begins. The exact procedure varies, importance of oil and gas in our daily life the idea is first to drill down to just above where the oil is located. Then they insert a casing of concrete into the newly drilled hole to make it stronger. In the petroleum industry, production is the phase of operation that deals with bringing well fluids to the surface and preparing them for their trip to the refinery or processing plant.

Production begins after drilling is finished. The first step is to complete the well — that is, to perform whatever operations are necessary to start the well fluids flowing to the surface. Later in the life of the well, more extensive repairs — known as workovers — may also be necessary to maintain the flow of oil and gas. The fluids from a well are usually a mixture of oil, gas, and water, which must be separated after coming to the surface.

Production also includes disposing of the water and installing equipment to treat, measure, and test the oil and gas before they are transported away from the well site.

So production is a combination of operations: Operating in this environment requires billions of dollars and boundless technical expertise. Safely and economically bringing oil to the surface requires experts in everything from underwater vehicles that install subsea equipment to structural engineers that make sure the huge floating platforms can withstand large waves.

To put this in perspective, it is a bit like a quarterback trying to throw a football to his wide receiver more than 100 football fields away! Innovation will continue to drive this frontier into new territory. Environmental Care We depend on oil and gas for a host of products we use in our everyday lives, and we will continue to depend on them for years to come. Already great strides have been made to ensure that oil and gas producers make as little impact as possible on the natural environments in which they operate.

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This includes drilling multiple wells from a single location or pad to minimize damages to the surface, employing environmentally sound chemicals to stimulate well production, and ensuring a seamless transition from the wellhead to the consumer. How can the vast potential locked in these resources be tapped in a more efficient, environmentally sound manner?

Research today focuses on inserting heaters into rock formations below the surface to convert the heavy hydrocarbons into liquid that can then be drained and produced by more conventional oil wells. Such a process would dramatically reduce the impact of these unconventional sources on the surface. However, the next generation of engineers and scientists must further refine this technology or generate new ideas in order to tackle these problems.