Aberdeen Firm To Test Industry First Technology In California

a wooden device being tested in a field near a parking lot

An Aberdeen-based oil well technology company has reached agreement with a US heavy oil producing operator to conduct a pilot test in a well to be equipped with a revolutionary in-the-well oil recovery device called THOR.

The U.S. oil producer, Santa Maria Energy, LLC (SME) located in Santa Barbara County, California USA, will utilise a new leading-edge product developed by Cavitas Energy, a Valor Energy Group company, which is based in Bridge of Don. The two companies have agreed to test Cavitas’ innovative Thermal Heavy Oil Recovery (THOR) system in an onshore heavy oil well that is expected to occur sometime in Q4 of 2020.

THOR is an in-the-well device powered by electricity that heats passing water as it is injected into a heavy oil reservoir for the purpose of increasing oil production. Traditional methods use steam that is produced at the surface and pumped into the reservoir with appreciable heat energy losses. However, the injection of steam has been successfully used throughout the world to aid in the production of viscous heavy oil mainly from relatively shallow hydrocarbon bearing reservoirs for over 70 years.

Cavitas’ THOR technology is an industry first that promises to significantly improve an already successful technique. The THOR advantages include smaller equipment footprints, lower steam injection requirements, improved overall thermal process efficiencies, lower operating and well maintenance costs, application to deeper oil-bearing horizons, and increased oil recovery from existing thermally stimulated reservoirs. THOR technology is not reliant on the burning of fossil fuels for the generation of heat and can be powered by greener energy alternatives, thus greatly reducing the carbon footprint of thermal enhanced oil recovery while generating heat in a highly efficient manner.

The test will be conducted in a cyclic steam stimulation manner called “huff and puff” whereby Cavitas’ in-well system will be used to heat water injected into the well over an optimum period. This technique will deliver heat into the reservoir to lower the in-place oil viscosity and increase its rate of flow into the well. The well will then be placed on production and allowed to produce until the flow of oil diminishes. The process can be cycled repeatedly for however long the stimulated oil production continues to flow which could be for years. The THOR heater is a stationary device that stays inside the well as each injection and production cycle is repeated.

The well proposed for the test is located in the historic Orcutt field first discovered in 1901 by William Warren Orcutt. The field was one of the first giant commercial oil discoveries ever to be produced in the State of California. Santa Maria Energy is an independent privately owned company committed to the responsible exploration and development of its natural resources in Santa Barbara County, California.

Cavitas’ Managing Director Steve Johnstone said, “We are thrilled to have agreed to conduct a well pilot test with Santa Maria Energy. This is the first time our THOR technology will be used in a live well and achieves another milestone towards developing a cost effective and refined device. I would like to thank Santa Maria for their forward-thinking approach. The wider Cavitas team and I are looking forward to working with Santa Maria and our partners to deliver a successful pilot.”

Steve continued, “This is a crucial test for Cavitas as we are on the verge of proving the technology which could overcome many of the challenges posed in heavy oil production. Each step of THOR’s development has been eagerly anticipated, however, this next stage is one of the most important in Cavitas’ existence and is the realisation of many years of research and development”.

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