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9 Mar, 2010 07:01

Crude search pushes new scientific frontiers

As global oil reserves decline, crude extraction has become a more challenging task - prompting companies to spend more on research.

Oil extraction in Russia is counted by the millions of barrels – conjuring up an image of fountains of gushing crude. In reality, oil production starts far away from the fields,

In research centers such as the Tyumen Oil Scientific Centre, tubes of soil just like DNA contain the data of each oil deposit, according to Igor Dyakonov, General Director.

“The information we retrieve from core samples is about 70% of all information we need to correctly develop oil fields. And once we have a new area and a couple of wells, we retrieve this core and start to understand much better what is in this area, what is the potential of the field.”

Scientists analyze the cores for evidence of oil and then store them here. There’s nothing alike this core storage anywhere else in Russia. It contains samples of soil from major Siberian oil fields – in total 80 kilometers of cores. Geologists say it’s a gene-bank of Russia’s oil deposits.

3D technologies help students model future wells and calculate construction costs. Exploration and extraction is becoming more complicated, so scientists have to look for new ways to drill according to Lenar Shakirzanyan, Section Head of Uvat Fields.

“We’re planning the profile of a horizontal well which will be drilled in Uvat, it’s the south of Tyumen. Our goal is to plan the profile of a horizontal well in order to extract more oil.”

Over the past five years specialists discovered 28 new oil fields in Western Siberia. But there’s a gulf between spotting a deposit and a first gush of crude. Scientists say the age of 'easy oil' has passed and that producers should be ready for a new era of high-tech exploration.