Increased oil yield with steam flooding How Wintershall uses steam to enhance production
When crude oil can no longer be brought to the surface with the usual production methods, it has to be forced to the surface with a special technique – steam flooding, which is an internationally recognized method of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).
Steam flooding is used when the remaining oil in a reservoir is too viscous to be recoverd. The production experts from Wintershall then inject steam at a temperature of 300 degrees C into the reservoir. The steam has a pressure of 100 bar and warms up the oil. This makes it runnier, which enables it to flow to the well again.
EOR in Emlichheim Keeping production at a constant level
One oil field where Wintershall has been applying and continuing to develop steam flooding technology since 1981 is Emlichheim in Lower Saxony. Crude oil was discovered here for the first time in the 1940’s, and the first well, Emlichheim 1, began production on the German-Dutch border in 1944. At the beginning of the 50’s production reached its peak and was about to start declining. However, Wintershall was able to prevent this with secondary production techniques such as water flooding. And since then it has continued producing without interruption – made possible thanks to innovative production techniques such as steam flooding. But how exactly does Wintershall carry out steam flooding in a reservoir? The following 3D animation explains it.
Plateau production thanks to innovative technology
Emlichheim is one of the oldest reservoirs in Germany, yet Wintershall has been producing here at a constantly high level for a record-breaking 67 years or more. Moreover, producing here is extremely demanding compared to other production regions in the world because the oil here is very viscous and thus difficult to recover.
But with the help of more and more advanced production techniques, Wintershall has mastered this challenge successfully. It expects to be able to maintain plateau production, i.e. production at the current level, until at least 2020 – quite an achievement, and not just because of the conditions in Emlichheim!