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RF Steaming To Benefit O&G

In this day and age, it is normal to encounter previously unthought of technologies in fields they were not originally meant.

For example: touchscreens were initially created for monitors but are now commonly found in small technology devices; motion detectors started out as a signal for automatic doors but now form part of many light and alarm technologies. Now, technology based on radio frequency (RF) is making an appearance in the oil and gas industry: the latest application is RF based heating for underground oil sands production.

RF heating comes facilitated through an entirely separate method of oil production: steam-assisted gravity drainage, commonly known as SAGD, which has been the trend to follow and adopt, particularly following the rapid rise of oil prices. To stimulate SAGD, some innovative start-ups have applied RF to it. High-efficiency RF generators are installed in wells where you would usually conduct the SAGD procedure. The logic behind this is that these generators then convert electricity to RF energy, which energises the formation and turns the water into steam; the steam, in turn, heats the oil and allows it to flow to the producer well. This process is called “volumetric heating”.

According to one company, Acceleware, this process can be more effective under specific circumstances than conventional steaming. Based on this prediction the team successfully conducted a 1/20 scale field test earlier this year. Following this trial, they are further developing their RF heating technology for oil sands.

Not only does using RF waves instead of steam improve efficiency but it also works towards saving costs, and has a lower environmental impact because RF is cheaper to create and does not consume any natural resources itself.

However, RF only provides heating and does not, on its own, provide full value that could be extracted from wells. For this, technology such as sensors and monitoring devices are needed, and the collected data would have to be analysed – this is where Dashboard comes in, and why we believe RF based heating complements our services.