Rising Oil Prices Increase Investment in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) Innovation

In their regular supplement to the EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported:

International crude oil prices, which reached their highest point of the year in June, fell to their lowest levels of the year in early August… A further easing of supply concerns and potentially softening demand combined to help loosen crude oil markets over the previous month. In contrast, the U.S. domestic crude oil market tightened in July.”

While it’s nice to see prices dropping at the pump, we can only conclude this trend will not last as worldwide demand surges and conventional drilling fails to meet demand.

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) Methods Here to Stay

As rising demand puts pressure on long-term prices, investors continue to fund all types of enhanced oil recovery methods.  This drives a steeper innovation curve as the Exploration and Production sector thirsts for new ways to extract petroleum with improved efficiency and greater sustainability.

Jeroen Regtien, Vice President of Hydrocarbon Recovery Technologies at Shell International states:

The global demand imbalance between supply and demand for oil and gas is growing. Schlumberger and Shell have recently agreed to start a significant landmark research partnership. The research aims at discovering and developing new methodologies for enhancing recovery… enhanced oil recovery is here to stay.”

When industry leaders recommend increased investment in EOR the rest of the industry pays attention.

Independent investors are following their lead while everyone looks for new and better EOR methods.

Options for Enhanced Oil Recovery

Shell oil reports that an “average of around 35% of oil [is recovered] from reservoirs. The rest remains trapped in the rock. Boosting oil recovery could unlock around 300 billion barrels of oil.”

That means 65% of the world’s oil reserves or 300 billion barrels of oil are available for recovery using EOR technologies.

Common EOR Technologies in Use Today

  • Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) – Injecting water-based chemical solutions and polymers that match the thickness of the solution to the thickness of the oil.
  • CO2 Floods – Injecting CO2 releases the oil from the formation freeing it to move to production wells – CO2 that emerges when the oil separates is re-injected into the formation.
  • Injecting gas that dissolve in oil creates a mixture that flows through the reservoir to production wells.
  • Injecting steam into a reservoir heats the oil, making it easier to flow. The steam pushes the oil to wells for drawing to the surface.

These technologies can be costly, labor intensive, consume massive amounts of water, require well down time  to implement as well as require well prep time and equipment to separate environmentally toxic agents after the operation is completed.

Plasma Pulse Treatment

Plasma Pulse is an environmentally-friendly technology that allows producers to obtain sustained higher production.

The treatment changes the wells inflow conditions by increasing wellbore permeability and increasing oil mobility in the surrounding reservoir.

How Plasma Pulse Technology Works

This enhanced production technology applies plasma physics principles.

A special tool generates high power shock waves having non-linear, broadband, repetitive pulsing and directed energy characteristics.

The shock waves clean completed intervals, then propagate and translate into elastic waves in the reservoir.

Plasma Pulse Technology

The introduction of elastic vibrations into natural heterogeneous reservoirs initiates resonant frequencies of “Plasma Waves” that increase permeability in the reservoir and increases the relative mobility of crude oil to water.

The cleaning of the near wellbore region, increasing relative oil mobility and the generation of elastic vibrations and their resonance continues after the well is treated with PPT can sustain an increased production flow for periods of up to twelve (12) months or more.

The Plasma Pulse Technology requires minimal downtime for well treatment, no costs for additional materials, uses a one-man crew and a wire line truck.


Although oil and gas prices fluctuate, demand for oil remains high and the need for EOR innovation is growing.

There are over 300 billion barrels of oil trapped in reservoirs and conventional drilling methods can only recover a small percentage.

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) technologies can bring much more of that oil to the surface, but most methods are expensive, labor intensive and require separation of inducing agents.

Plasma Pulse Treatment is designed to deliver higher production sustainably, with less down time and  at a fraction of the cost of current methods.  Furthermore, when used in combination with existing methods it can improve their ultimate return of investment through an improvement of their efficiency.

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Increasing Oil Output Without New Exploration

U.S. and global dependence on oil is not showing signs of changing anytime soon.

Despite increasing efforts efforts to conserve and more investment in solar energy and other renewable sources, the global demand for oil is only expected to rise within the foreseeable future.

Population growth in the developing world, industrialization, and urbanization are among the factors driving this growing need.

U.S. Oil Production

The U.S. has been able to steadily increase oil output and will need to continue to do so in order to keep pace with global demand.

The most practical approach to maintaining this trend is to rely more on maximizing production from existing resources – enhanced oil recovery (EOR) – than to rely on the discovery of new oil reserves.

U.S. Stake in Increasing Oil Output

The drive for U.S. energy independence tops the national political agenda and is recognized as a central issue affecting national security.

The U.S. has been successful in reducing dependence on foreign imports from the peak in 2007 and within the past year has seen oil production greater than imports for the first time since 1995.

Less reliance on oil-exporting countries such as Venezuela and countries in OPEC make the U.S. more immune to price fluctuations that can be dramatic in these often volatile regions.

Barriers to Finding New Reserves

New reserve discoveries can’t realistically keep pace with growing demand for oil.

There are only so many unexplored areas of the planet and only so many undiscovered oil reserves.

Searches for new reserves are often met with resistance from environmental groups and advocates who oppose exploration of undisturbed natural environments.

Even the discovery of new reserves is not enough to guarantee that new reserves will be fully used.

For example, ABC News reported the discovery of a shale deposit in Utah and Colorado that could contain more oil than the world’s reserves combined.

However, technological and environmental challenges prevent the region from being fully developed.

Increasing Oil Yield in Known Reserves

If the identification of new reserves is not the answer to increasing oil output, another option is to focus on increasing the yield from already-known reserves.

Currently, oil extraction in new oil reserves occurs via natural forces that increase pressure within the well enough to drive oil to the surface.

These forces can include the following:

  • Natural water flow
  • Natural gas expansion
  • Gravity

These approaches are known as primary extraction, and they can lead to recovery of about 10 percent of oil within a given reserve.

But 90 percent of oil in the reserve is left uncollected using these methods.

Clearly, increasing the yield within a given reserve has the potential to substantially increase oil output without requiring exploration for new reserves.

Secondary and Tertiary Extraction

While primary extraction depends on natural forces to increase pressure, secondary and tertiary extraction makes use of innovative approaches to generate pressure and permit oil to flow to the collection point.

Secondary and tertiary extraction – also known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR) – can yield a total of 30 to 60 percent, which is a substantial increase over the 10 percent expected during primary extraction.

The following are examples of EOR techniques.

  • Thermal recovery: this method focuses on increasing the temperature within the oil reserve so that the oil becomes less viscous and better able to flow.
  • Gas injection and hydraulic fracturing (fracking): these techniques have similar concepts; the difference is that gas injection uses nitrogen gas, carbon dioxide gas, or natural gas, while fracking uses water. After constructing extensive infrastructure to support the oil reserve and permit oil to flow upwards to the surface, gas or water is pumped at high pressure, forcing the oil to flow.
  • Plasma Pulse: this method does not require chemicals or gas, but instead generates a pulse to clear away excess sediment from well perforations and cause vibrations throughout the reserve. Oil production is increased due to reduced viscosity, increased permeability, and better ability to flow to the surface for collection.

While oil production is a constant concern as demand increases, the U.S. is currently becoming more self-sufficient.

The country is likely to be able to keep increasing its production not from discoveries of new reserves, which are unpredictable, but from exploration of new technologies to increase yield from existing reserves.

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Beyond Transportation: Other Industries Need Enhanced Oil Recovery

The U.S. continues to exhibit one of the world’s biggest appetites for oil, devouring about 840 million gallons of petroleum products every day. In essence, about 5 percent of the world’s population accounts for about a quarter of the world’s daily oil consumption.

Transporation Demand

But while the country remains one of the greatest oil producers in the world, domestic supplies still doesn’t meet all of its needs.

As concerns grow over the country’s continued demand for oil among ever-dwindling supplies, most of the attention has focused on transportation fuels. But fueling America’s love affair with the automobile is only part of the picture.

Several other major industries are also reliant on the oil industry, and have a vested interest in successful enhanced oil recovery to expand the availability of domestic supplies.


The healthcare industry makes broad use of petroleum-based products in ways that impact both patient and provider.

From the most sophisticated artificial limb and high-tech heart valve to the simplest bandage and salve, crude oil plays a vital role in keeping today’s healthcare industry working.

Pharmaceuticals make use of crude oil as a feedstock, making major drug companies major oil consumers.

Beyond supplies, the healthcare industry has also become a major consumer of plastics due to their use in surgical supplies and packaging.

It is estimated that the healthcare industry would be particularly hard hit by scarce oil supplies, with about 3.4 billion pounds of plastics consumed by the industry alone.

Petroleum for Plastics

Historically, crude oil was used in the manufacture of plastics. While this is still the case in many countries, the nation’s plastics industry today relies heavily on the manufacture of polystyrene “nurdles” from liquid petroleum gases and natural gas liquids.

These small pellets are used in the pre-production of plastics, with nearly 30 million made in the U.S. on an annual basis alone.

These pellets are used to manufacture everything from plastic bottles and jars to plastic cling film. Approximately 3 to 4 percent of global oil production goes into plastics manufacturing.

Manufacturing Chemicals

Petroleum continues to play a large role in the manufacture of a host of chemicals that play a pertinent role in our daily lives.

Approximately 10 percent of crude oil leaves the refinery and heads down the pipe for use as raw materials for industries as diverse as cosmetics and laundry detergent.

Health and beauty products rely heavily on petroleum products. About 80 percent of the raw materials used in cosmetics come from petroleum.

But other industries also make use of petroleum products in the manufacture of chemicals used in everything from house paint to food preservatives.

Production Agriculture

Agriculture relies heavily on fuel for tractors, machinery, transport and grain drying.

But it also relies on the petroleum industry for the manufacture of fertilizer, which many credit with launching the era of Industrialized agriculture.

Fertilizer has enabled expansive yields that have helped to address global malnutrition and starvation.

While it accounts for only about 20 percent of energy use, it is a pivotal part of today’s agriculture.

The most common commercial fertilizer mixture brings together hydrogen and nitrogen to create ammonia.This hydrogen is mostly extracted from oil, making agriculture significantly reliant on petroleum for critical inputs.

Reaching Benefits of Enhanced Oil Recovery

Most people equate oil to gasoline, and to some extent, heating, but oil consumption has a much wider reach.

The nation’s need for oil-based products continues to bolster demand for crude so maximizing oil production safely, cleanly, and effectively is a priority.

Propell’s role is to provide producers with access to our newly redesigned tool that’s compatible with 4.5″ wells and the majority of the nation’s single wire line truck fleet.

While U.S. demand for oil for transportation may decline in the future, increasing demand from other industries will ensure a constant flow of oil is needed.

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Propell Technologies’ Redesigned Plasma Pulse Tool In The Field [Video]

We recently completed the successful treatment of two of Miller Energy Resources’ (NYSE:MILL) wells using our new U.S. engineered Plasma Pulse tool.

The treatment took place in the Appalachian Basin in Tennessee on the Hannah Heirs #4 and Henry Bowling #1 wells.

This quick video clip shows the Plasma Pulse tool being removed from the well with a single wire line truck.

Great Work, Team!

Propell Technologies' Redesigned Plasma Pulse Tool

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Propell Technologies Announces Launch of New Corporate and Product Websites

We’re excited to announce the launch of new two websites to help our investors and clients learn more about our company and Plasma Pulse well stimulation treatment.

Last month we unveiled a brand new corporate website at http://www.propell.com.

New Propell Website

This site incorporates numerous features to streamline browsing and create a more informative experience for our current and potential investors.

Major features include easily accessible investor presentations, stock data, real time news feeds and easily searchable archives of corporate materials and information.

Yesterday we launched a new site for our subsidiary, Novas Energy, at http://www.novasenergy.com.

New Novas Energy Website

This site provides detailed technical information on our Plasma Pulse petroleum well stimulation treatment and has features which allow well operators to obtain a comprehensive assessment of the treatment’s potential for their specific wells.

Read the Full News Release

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