Extension of Oil Well Economic Life by Simultaneous Production of Oil and Electricity

Wang, Kai (University of Oklahoma) | Wu, Xingru (University of Oklahoma)



Oil production decline and excessive water production are prevalent in mature fields and unconventional plays, which significantly impact the profitability of the wells and result in costly water treatment and disposal. To seek for a sustainable development of those wells, reducing the operation cost and extending their economic lives, this paper presents a method of synergistic production of hydrocarbon and electricity, which could harvest the unexploited geothermal energy from the produced water and transfer heat to electricity in the wellbore. Such method is cost-effective, since it does not require any surface power plant facility, and it is replicable in numerous wells including both vertical wells and horizontal wells. By simultaneous coproduction of oil and electricity, the value of existing assets could be fully developed, operation cost could be offset, and the economic life of the well could be extended.

This recently proposed method incorporated thermoelectric power generation technology and oil production. In this method, electricity could be produced by thermoelectric generator (TEG) mounted outside of the tubing wall under temperature gradient created by produced fluid and injected fluids. The aim of this paper is to illustrate the economic practicability of oil-electricity coproduction by using thermoelectric technology in oil wells based on previously proposed design. We examined the technical data of high water-cut oil wells in North Dakota and collected required information with respect to performance thermoelectric power generations. Special emphasis was placed on the key parameters related to project economics, such as thermoelectric material, length of TEG and injection rate. Sensitive studies were carried out to characterize the impact of the key parameters on project profits. We showed that by simultaneously production of oil and electricity, $234,480 of additional value could be generated without interfering with oil production.

The proposed method capitalizes on the unexploited value of produced water and generates additional benefits. This study could provide a workflow for oil and gas operators to evaluate an oil-electricity coproduction project and could act as a guidance to perform and commercialize such project to balance parts of the operation cost and extend the life of the existing assets.