Micro sensor motes successfully travel through a Canadian heavy oil reservoir

Nov 30, 2012, 07:00 ET from Petroleum Technology Research Centre

REGINA, SK, Nov. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - What was once believed impossible became a reality on November 16th: micro sensor motes were successfully sent into a Canadian heavy oil reservoir through an injection well and retrieved via a production well.

This exciting result is from a field trial conducted by the PI Innovation Centre - a joint venture of the Canadian Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) and its Dutch-based partner INCAS3 - in collaboration with Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL), which provided field access.

Heavy oil recovery challenges
Using existing recovery methods such as CHOPS (Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand), heavy oil reservoirs in Canada see only a five-to-eight percent recovery rate. In CHOPS, a sand and oil mixture is extracted; the produced sand leads to the creation of empty spaces or 'wormholes' in the reservoir. These 'wormholes' form a potentially immense network of channels preventing pressurization and, thus, influencing the efficiency of oil production. If this network of wormholes exists, sensors should provide information as to their number, diameter, direction and location.

Unprecedented success in field test
Initial results indicate that between 10% and 20% of injected sensor motes - those with a diameter of 7 mm or less - successfully passed through the reservoir. John van Pol, Managing Director of INCAS3, is positive about the results.

"The fact that the sensor motes traveled through the reservoir is a promising start for this innovative research."

Dr. Malcolm Wilson, CEO of the PTRC, also noted.

"With the kinds of recovery rates we experience in CHOPS production," said Wilson, "to actually be able to see and better understand these wormholes will enable us to develop improved recovery techniques."

The next step is to analyze the results. The PI Innovation Centre will set up a research program before moving to the next phase of trials.

For a full press release visit

About the PI Innovation Centre, PTRC and INCAS3
Visit: http://pi-innovation-centre.ca/; http://ptrc.ca/; and http://www.incas3.eu/

SOURCE Petroleum Technology Research Centre