Chevron begins injecting steam in PNZ pilot

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, June 29
-- Saudi Arabian Chevron initiated steam injection in its large-scale pilot steamflood project at Wafra field, an Eocene heavy-oil carbonate reservoir in the Partitioned Neutral Zone (PNZ) between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Chevron said the $340 million pilot is the final test phase for steamflooding the reservoir, and it expects the pilot to lead to full-field steamflooding, which would make the project the world's first commercial conventional steamflood in a carbonate reservoir.

“Full-field deployment of steamflood technology in the PNZ would significantly increase recovery of crude oil reserves, confirm the technology’s potential applicability in other carbonate oil fields and build on Chevron’s steamflood capabilities that date back 5 decades,” said George Kirkland, executive vice-president, Chevron Global Upstream & Gas.

The large-scale pilot is the third in a series of staged tests for validating the feasibility of steamflooding at Wafra. Previous tests included the small-scale test completed in 2008 and simple steam stimulation in the late 1990s.

Steamflooding involves injecting steam into heavy-oil reservoirs to heat the crude oil underground, reducing its viscosity and allowing its extraction through wells. Chevron has employed steamflooding to produce heavy oil from sandstone reservoirs at Kern River, Calif. for more than 40 years and at Duri in Sumatra, Indonesia, for 25 years.

Saudi Arabian Chevron operates on behalf of Saudi Arabia that has a 50% interest in the onshore PNZ petroleum resources. Saudi recently amended and extended Chevron's operating agreement until February 2039.

The company's operations in the PNZ include four fields: Wafra, South Umm Gudair, South Fuwaris, and Humma. The fields produce mainly heavy crude from 10 reservoirs. In 2004, onshore PNZ produced its 3 billionth bbl of oil, according to Chevron.

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