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The Oil Recovery Tool: An Acoustic Source for Increased Production and Prolonged Lifetime of Marginal Wells Public Executive Summary

Lead Organizaation: 
Hydroacoustics Inc.
Principal Investigator: 

Joel Wojciechowski
(585) 359-1000 x224

In this proposal, Hydroacoustics Inc. (HAI) seeks funding from the Stripper Well Consortium for development of the Oil Recovery Tool (ORT), a unique and alternative design, down-hole acoustic source used to increase oil production from small-producing or depleted wells through seismic stimulation. The size, scope, and timeline of this grant are ideal for HAI’s plan for development and commercialization of the ORT. We anticipate minimal risk for successful delivery of an operating prototype, including design-, construction-, and testing-phases. Subsequent field testing of the tool should provide definitive results as to the feasibility of seismic stimulation as an effective mode of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) for US domestic

Of the many techniques for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) to reclaim residual oil in depleted fields, acoustic (or seismic) stimulation has been shown to be distinctly promising, both in field tests and in the laboratory. However, attempts by oil producers to utilize acoustic stimulation for increased production have not met with technical or economic feasibility thus far, let alone commercial success.

Hydroacoustics Inc. (HAI) is a company with over 40 years experience in the commercialization of underwater acoustic source technology as successful marketable products, including long-range undersea surveillance sources, remote submersible vehicles, instruments for scientific measurement, and homeland
security diver interdiction systems.

HAI seeks to continue development of an acoustic source-based down-hole Oil Recovery Tool (ORT) for increased production of oil-in-place through seismic stimulation. Success of the program will result in increased productivity and prolonged lifetime of small-producing wells. The ORT has been designed based on input and specifications from industrial producers to operate reliably at depths necessary for meaningful stimulatory effect. Moreover, the technology will be commercialized specifically to complement the economic needs of small producers (for those whose wells are amenable to seismic stimulation). Initial success has already been borne out in early-phase testing of a wet hardware proof-of-concept device.

Stimulation trials have shown that for maximum potential recovery, the optimal excitation frequency and amplitude of the acoustic source may depend on the specific geological characteristics of the reservoir and properties of the oil. Elastic waves with frequencies less than 100 Hertz have been shown to be especially effective. HAI’s ORT will focus on frequencies in this preferential range and create acoustic pressure sufficient to increase oil transport from the formation. Additionally, the power and frequency output of the ORT will be variable, or ‘tuned,’ to meet optimal characteristics of individual wells.

In the current proposal HAI will build upon its existing low-frequency acoustic technology to design, assemble, and test an operational prototype able to be tested down-hole.

Briefly, HAI’s objectives and methods follow a three phase development plan:

  • Phase 1 – Conceptual layout, prototype design and review, and component selection (includes joint collaboration and input from a waterflood operator and other experts)
  • Phase 2 – Hardware production, procurement, and assembly of the operating prototype
  • Phase 3 – Device calibration and testing, both within HAI’s in-house testing laboratory and at our Seneca Lake (NY) open-water facility

Previously, HAI has successfully translated its acoustic technology to specific applications across a wide range of industries. In this proposal, HAI also describes the path for commercialization of the ORT based on development and marketing programs that have shown tremendous success in the past. The oil production industry, in particular enhanced oil recovery, is an area potentially ripe for a disruptive technology achievable from HAI’s technology and expertise.

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