Distribution of Petroleum and Natural gases resources, Chemistry tutorial

Introduction:

Oil and natural gas altogether make petroleum. Petroleum, that is a Latin term for 'rock oil', is a fossil fuel, meaning it was prepared naturally from decaying prehistoric animal and plant remains. This is a mixture of hundreds of different hydrocarbons molecules having hydrogen and carbon which exist at times as a liquid (that is, crude oil) and at times as a vapor (that is, natural gas).

Hydrocarbons - oil and gas - are at present the most significant energy fuels. Altogether they accounts for more than 60% of universal net primary energy supply. Oil is of great significance for transportation, heat production and the chemical industry while natural gas is mostly significant for heat and electricity production and also for the chemical industry.

There is a geographical disparity between the resource position and demand that will carry on increasing in the future. By such reasons, role of transport will increase. Pipeline Transport is a significant option.

The accessibility of fuels, taking into account their uneven global distribution, can be broken down into the given elements:

  • Geological availability
  • Technical availability
  • Availability of transportation
  • Political availability

Where is Petroleum Found?

The oil and natural gas which power our homes, transportation and businesses are mainly found in small spaces (termed as 'pores') between the layers of rock deep in the Earth. Most offshore wells, for illustration, are drilled in thousands of feet of water and go through tens of thousands of feet to the sediments beneath the sea floor.

Natural gas is generally found close to petroleum. Oil is then transported to refineries and distilled to fuel or base chemical products. Natural gas is pumped from the ground below and travels in pipelines. Natural gas is hard to transport across long distances. In most of the countries, natural gas is used in the country or exported to a neighboring country through pipeline. Technology for liquefying natural gas in such a way that it can be transported in tankers (such as oil) is enhancing, however the volume of natural gas exported in this way is still limited. As technology develops the options for gas transportation, demand for natural gas is anticipated to develop.

More than 100 countries generate petroleum. Most of such countries generate both oil and natural gas; some produce only natural gas. Most of the factors can influence oil production, like civil unrest, national or international politics, oil prices, adherence to quotas, oil demand, new discoveries, and technology progress or application.

The bigger subsurface traps are the simplest deposits of oil and gas to position. In mature production regions of the world, most of such big deposits of oil and gas have already been found, and most have been producing since the year 1960 and 1970. The oil and gas industry has developed latest technology to better recognize and access oil and gas:

Improved seismic methods (like 3D seismic) have raised the odds of correctly recognizing the position of smaller and more difficult to find out reservoirs.

Latest drilling methods can intersect a long, thin reservoir horizontally first that then turns vertically making an 'L' shape. This lets the oil or gas from the reservoir to be recovered by fewer wells.

World oil production comes from more than 800,000 oil wells. More than 500,000 of such wells are in the United States, which consists of some of the most mature producing basins in the world. On average, an oil well in the US generates only 10 B/D, as compared by 248 B/D in Russia, 3,077 B/D in Norway and 5,762 B/D for a well in Saudi Arabia. Comparable data for natural gas wells are not readily obtainable.

There are still lots of oil and gas reserves left to be discovered and produced. Future discoveries will be in deeper basins and in more remote regions of the earth. Advanced technologies as well can be employed to position small reservoirs found in the existing oil and gas regions.

Natural Gas: Oil Byproduct, Valuable Resource

The use of Natural-gas is growing across all the economic sectors. Natural gas burns cleaner than coal or oil, and this ecological advantage has encouraged its use. Whereas decades ago natural gas was seen as an unwanted byproduct of oil and might have been wasted, its value has been recognized nowadays. Most of the natural gas is distributed through pipelines that are a limiting factor for remote resources which are not close to the main consuming markets. However there is considerable growth of technology to transform natural gas to liquids to allow more widespread transportation.

New Exploration Methods for Oil and Gas:

In the implacable search for more oil and gas, innovation plays an indisputable role. As large oil and gas fields become increasingly hard to determine, geologists, geophysicists and engineers use latest technologies, like seismic, to uncover resources which just 10 years ago were unbelievable. Seismic is a technology that bounces sound waves off rock formations deep below the surface of Earth to give explorers having a picture of the subsurface, often revealing positions where oil and gas might be trapped. The technology of determining oil has even incorporated 3D visualization tools from Microsoft's Xbox game console! The system will assist geoscientist's observation and interact by 3D models of the Earth.

In order to process the huge amounts of information collected from the seismic surveys, physicists, mathematicians and other scientists are constantly building up new computer algorithms to determine complex patterns which improve our understanding of the land beneath us. If we are to continue determining new fields hidden deep within the Earth, breakthroughs in computer processing power and data management are essential.

How Do We Get to the Oil?

The oil and natural gas we utilize nowadays have been trapped deep within the Earth for millions of years. However it is tempting to think of oil and gas reservoirs as big pools and wells having giant straws which suck the fluid to the surface, oil and gas is in reality locked within the rocks such as water in a sponge. Just similar to the small holes in a sponge which collect and hold water, there are tiny pores or spaces in rocks which fill by oil and gas. For the past 100 years, oil and gas was taken out from rocks by small pores which were still big adequate that the fluids flowed simply. If you were a small molecule of oil, flowing via these rocks would be like driving on a highway in the express lane. Throughout this period of time, geologists and engineers knew regarding other big quantities of hydrocarbons trapped in rocks having even smaller and more complex pores, however were not able to harness the resource - the oil and gas flowed too slowly or not at all from such rocks. Rather than driving on a large and fast highway, flowing via such rocks would be like driving on a small two-lane road having numerous stoplights and intersections. Conventional gas wells drilled to such formations were considered uneconomic as the gas locked in the rock would flow out of the small pores in the rock at such low rates. This picture modified, and modified in a big manner, having the advent of stimulated horizontal wells.

Drilling Location:

Prior to the technology go forward of the past few decades, the best place to place a well was directly above the anticipated place of the oil or gas reservoir. The well would then be drilled vertically to the targeted oil or gas formation. Technology now lets 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 signifies that the industry can evade placing wells in environmentally sensitive regions or other inaccessible positions yet still access the oil or gas which lies under such regions.

Drilling Process:

In simplified terms, the drilling method employs a motor, either at the surface or down hole, to turn a string of pipe having a drill bit joined to the end. The drill bit consists of special 'teeth' to help it crush or break up the rock it encounters to form a hole in the ground. Whereas the well is being drilled, a fluid, termed as drilling mud, circulates down within the drill pipe, passes via holes in the drill bit and travels back up the wellbore to the surface. The drilling mud consists of two aims:

a) To carry the minute bits of rock, or cuttings, from the drilling method to the surface in such a way that they can be eliminated.

b) To fill the wellbore by fluid to equalize pressure and prevent water or other fluids in underground formations from flowing to the wellbore throughout drilling.

Water-based drilling mud is mainly composed of clay, water and small amounts of chemical additives to address specific subsurface conditions which might be encountered. In deep wells, oil-based drilling mud is employed as water-based mud can't stand up to the higher temperatures and conditions encountered. The petroleum industry has developed technologies to reduce the environmental influences of the drilling fluids it employs, recycling as much as possible. The growth of environmentally friendly fluids and additives is a significant area of research of the oil and gas industry.

Even by the best technology, drilling a well doesn't for all time signify that oil or gas will be found. If oil or gas is not found in commercial quantities, the well is termed as a dry hole. At times, the well encounters oil or gas; however the reservoir is found out to be unlikely to generate in commercial quantities.

Technology has raised the success rate of determining commercial oil or gas deposits by less waste and a smaller impact on the surface. As conventional oil and gas wells are usually vertical, contacting merely a limited quantity of the target reservoir rock, horizontal wells look similar to a large 'L'. The long horizontal wellbore, at times more than 4,000 feet long, contacts a big portion of the productive reservoir. The surrounding rock formation is then hydraulically fractured to discharge the oil or gas trapped inside. In the hydraulic fracturing, massive trucks pump thousands of gallons of fluid to the rock at very high pressures in order to force the rock to crack. Such cracks are then propped open by sand to let a highly conductive passage via which the oil or gas can flow.

In shale fields, as many as 15 main fractures are positioned all along the horizontal wellbore, serving to join all such small two-lane roads to wide boulevards and even larger, faster highways. Presently, the limits of this technology are being pushed back every day in order to unleash giant gas resources. In the future, this technology will encompass to go even farther to let more fractures and longer horizontal wells. Advances in this region will undoubtedly convert our energy landscape.

Environmental Care:

We depend on oil and gas for a host of products we make use of in our daily lives, and we will carry on to depend on them for years to come. And whereas oil and gas production might contribute to the greenhouse effect on the atmosphere, the industry is doing its part to offset those effects whereas still meeting up the world's petroleum demands.

Already big strides have been made to make sure that oil and gas producers make as little impact as possible on the natural atmospheres in which they operate. This comprises drilling multiple wells from a single location or pad to reduce damages to the surface, using environmentally sound chemicals to stimulate well production, and making sure a seamless transition from the wellhead to the consumer. As conventional oil and gas operations have been streamlined to maximize the human safety and ecological protection and growth of unconventional resources.

Exploitation of such resources will be significant in meeting tomorrow's energy demand, however current processes use big quantities of water and based on expansive surface operations. How can the vast potential locked in such resources be tapped in a more proficient, environmentally sound way? Research nowadays concentrates on inserting heaters to rock formations beneath the surface to transform the heavy hydrocarbons to liquid which can then be drained and generated by more conventional oil wells. Such a method would dramatically decrease the impact of such unconventional sources on the surface. Though, the next generation of engineers and scientists should further refine this technology or produce new ideas in order to tackle such problems.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Fossil fuel consumption:

Substantial work will be needed to address the impact of oil and gas utilization, particularly the emission of carbon-dioxide as a main byproduct. Among the planned solutions to this problem is the confiscation, or storage, of carbon-dioxide in old oil and gas fields. Storage of carbon-dioxide from power plants and other industrial facilities would need collecting and processing the gas, compressing it to high pressures, and then injecting it to the little spaces between rock grains deep beneath the surface. Here, the main challenge is capturing and storing the CO2 emissions on a sustainable scale in the dependable and cheap way.

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