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Can we still enjoy petroleum as we used to?

Ten years ago I began my Chemical Engineering masters degree. The title of my master thesis was “Optmization of oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) to C2+ products”. That time, I was so interested with the topic energy. That’s why I opted that research field because I want to help and contribute to seek for ways to obtain petroleum energy from other sources since the petroleum reserve is diminishing!!! OCM is actually part of the technology to convert natural gas to C2 products (ethane, ethylene, acetylene) and further on oligomerize to gasoline with the help of zeolite ZSM-5 catalyst. That time, in my literature review, it was stated that the petroleum research is going to end in 15 years time. I noted that a decade ago which means 10 years ago. If that information is correct, we shall be enjoying petroleum until 2015!!!

Is that right?

After I completed my masters degree, I work with an oil and gas servicing company. I’m not the only engineer there. Two petroleum engineers were employed after me. It is interesting to have intellectual friends like them to discuss about the energy dilemma of petroleum.

One of them ask, “Do you think petroleum will last around 2015?”

“I’m not sure…”, I answered briefly and slowly. “Hopefully not”, I added a two seconds after that.

Being a petroleum engineering student, my colleague began his story…

“Petroleum is abundantly available down there inside the earth. The supply can last up to 100 years. The problem now is our current technology is not capable to retrieve the black gold. Hence, we need to keep on researching and developing new techniques and technology to retrieve the crude oil.”

What my petroleum engineer friend said make me realized that petroleum is still safely locked and stored down there. The problem hindering us from getting it is the technology. I’m glad I knew that and until now I still subscribe petroleum, hydrocarbon and offshore related magazines to keep myself updated with current technologies concerning petroleum upstream.

Yesterday, I came across this website called Bedrock Energy Development. It is pretty interesting because it introduces a new way of extracting petroleum…

The tag line say it all… “Laser Oil Well Drilling: a look into the future of the search for petroleum”

Laser will be employed to explore oils. Honestly, I never imagine laser application for the oil and gas industry specifically in exploration. However, this new tech has given the world some gleam of hope and that’s very pretty impressive. Despite the desperate commercialization of green biomass and biodiesel fuel, the demand required by the world could not be met by these renewable technology yet. More and more research are yet to be done to ensure commercial viability of the green technology. Without doubt, the world still need fossil petroleum for energy at least for the next 50 years.

It was stated that lasers have the ability to melt rock in a way that will create a casing in a wellbore, eliminating the expense of setting steel well casing. A laser system could also poses a variety of sensors and imaging systems that could communicate with the surface via fiber optic cable. A new study will obtain precise measurements of the energy required to transmit light from surface lasers with enough power to bore through rocks as deep as 20,000 feet or more beneath the surface. This has certainly ease the traditional and complicated process of drilling to position the wellbore that will be then connected to platform for further processing.

Besides that, another aspect of the new study will be to determine if lasers can be used in the presence of drilling fluids. In most wells drilling “mud” is injected into the borehole to wash out rock cuttings and keep water and other fluids from seeping into the wellbore. The technical challenge will be to determine whether too much laser energy is expended to clear away the fluid where the drilling is occurring.

Well, despite of all this, the laser approach may be the answer to our mysterious technology to dig out the petroleum from stubborn earth crust. Let’s hope for the laser technology application success so we can still enjoy petrol and its’ derivative products at an affordable price.

Basic rule of thumb: less petroleum, house hold price including petrol will rise, and people will suffer…

Think about it.

Check out the video below to see the concept behind laser oil well drilling...

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posted by Kipas Repair JB @ 6:46 PM,


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The Author


I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!

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