Towards Developing Smart Materials for Oil & Gas Applications
In the oil and gas industry, there has been a dramatic increase in global rig count numbers which is currently estimated to be around 4000 rigs. This high level of rig activity is an indicator of the chemical products and additives used in drilling, completion, production and EOR.
Unfortunately, some of these additives are organic or food based, such as starch and xanthan gum. These high levels might create future food crises and increase the cost of living consumption. The spirit of Dr. Olayan’s research is to stop the dependence on food based resources and to rely more instead on petroleum based chemicals (synthetic chemicals). In addition, it is very important to look for more innovative chemicals to meet the rising challenges posed by high temperature, high salinity and high pressure wells.
Synthetic polymers have emerged to become the predominant and preferred polymer type for use in commercial oilfield conformance improvement operations because of the inherent chemical and biological stability of synthetic polymers, along with injectivity and cost issues.
The purpose of this fellowship proposal is to synthesize and develop smart self-healing polymers that could replace the polymers currently used in drilling, completion, production and stimulation operations. Different techniques will be used to achieve this material with various compositions for our specific needs.
Capitalizing on MIT’s top capabilities in fundamental science and specifically in polymer research, Dr. Olayan plans to conduct research relating to developing/creating synthetic polymers/chemicals that can be used in the oil industry applications. The market need is increasing and the new drilling frontiers (deep water, tight reservoirs, HTHP, etc.) will benefit greatly from such chemicals.
As stated in the beginning, the objectives are to:
- Reduce the dependence on food based chemicals that have a limited range of properties, when it comes to temperature and pressure
- Reduce the cost of living by not consuming these organic and food based chemicals
- Meet the drilling and subsurface challenges
- Reduce drilling costs