Skoltech scientists have been granted a patent for a method of determining the flow profile in horizontal oil wells based on microbiome analysis.
The biotechnology method invented by Skoltech scientists helps identify oil-saturated formations in a horizontal oil well based on the information about its microbial population.
A Skoltech team led by Professor Mikhail Gelfand applied the next-generation sequencing technology to the samples of drill cuttings and compared them with the oil microbiota samples from the same well to predict the potential oil output.
“Using bioinformatics techniques and the right sampling procedure, we can create fairly accurate maps of the maximum oil inflow at specific depths. This new environmentally safe method obviates the need to stop the commissioning process or insert measuring devices into the well which may result in an accident or drilling a new well,” Skoltech PhD student Arseny Pozdyshev explains.
“Oil reservoirs are assessed using a variety of isotopic, microelement and molecular markers, none of which ensure 100% performance. The idea behind this study is to use the microbiome composition as a “marker” – something nobody has ever done before – and, before putting the method to practical use, study the microbiome compositions of oil samples from different fields and reservoirs. For the first time ever, it is suggested to look at a wide range of microbes that populate oil reservoirs. The proposed method is highly sensitive, and so is the microbiome composition which might change over the course of drilling. That said, the method requires further investigation,” says Mikhail Spasennykh, Director of the Skoltech Center for Hydrocarbon Recovery (CHR).
Currently, the team is discussing collaboration opportunities with several oil companies.
The new patent is a perfect example of internal cross-field collaboration at Skoltech, between its Center for Life Sciences (CLS) and CHR.
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