Heavy oil playerMarch 21, 2017
TOGY talks to Mohammad Kyanpour, engineering and business development manager for the GCC at RGL Reservoir Management, about how the company is applying its international experience in Kuwait, the challenges of heavy oil and global trends in EOR technologies.
RGL Reservoir Management is an international services company specialising in sand and downhole flow control technologies and the recovery of heavy oil and bitumen. It has been active in the industry for 30 years and provides its products to the hydrocarbons industry in Kuwait via its Abu Dhabi office.
• On EOR: The extent to which EOR technologies will be used will depend on the price of oil. EOR methods typically require both high capex and high opex. EOR studies and screenings should also be conducted to find out whether or not an EOR method is appropriate. For the South Ratqa field, for example, the recovery method to be implemented is cyclic steam stimulation followed by steamflood.
• On co-operation: [It] is important that companies in this region work with companies in the US, Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, countries which already have experience with heavy oil. Companies in the Middle East need to make use of the experiences in these countries instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
• On heavy oil: Kuwait is important because of the heavy oil projects that are ongoing in the country. Kuwait does not have a commercial heavy oil project right now but the country is looking into commercialising some of the projects they have been piloting.
Kyanpour also discussed in detail with TOGY the potential of extracting heavy oil, and the capacity Kuwait’s oilfields have for producing it. He also touches on the company’s specific experience in the Middle East, and why it views this region as crucial. Most TOGY interviews are published exclusively on our business intelligence platform TOGYiN, but you can find the full interview with Mohammad Kyanpour below.
Kyanpour is speaking at the MEHOC event on April 11-12, 2017.
What are the global trends in EOR technologies?
The extent to which EOR technologies will be used will depend on the price of oil. EOR methods typically require both high capex and high opex. EOR studies and screenings should also be conducted to find out whether or not an EOR method is appropriate. For the South Ratqa field, for example, the recovery method to be implemented is cyclic steam stimulation followed by steamflood.
In the Middle East, there is an abundance of sun. Solar energy can therefore be used to generate steam for those projects. Furthermore, Kuwait can learn from operations in Canada, which have much more experience in capturing CO2 during the steam generation process and which have been recovering heavy oil since the 1980s.
Is heavy oil gaining more importance in the global energy industry?
Absolutely. Currently, the conventional reservoirs in the Middle East are massive and relatively easy to exploit compared to other reservoirs in the world. However, conventional reservoirs are being depleted fairly fast and there will be increased production from unconventional reservoirs such as heavy oil reservoirs and shale oil and gas that have gained significant momentum in North America and other places.
When it comes to heavy oil, though, because of the nature of the reservoirs, it is very challenging to produce oil from them. It is also extremely important that reservoirs are understood and monitored well during pilots to make challenges easier to prepare for. Furthermore, because every reservoir and field has its own challenges, it is very important to conduct R&D to determine optimal solutions based on the options available for EOR.
Furthermore, it is important that companies in this region work with companies in the US, Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, countries which already have experience with heavy oil. Companies in the Middle East need to make use of the experiences in these countries instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
When it comes to competition, do you see many companies specialising in heavy oil entering the market?
RGL is competing against the Big Four [oilfield services companies] and there are other international companies coming in, including Chinese ones. There will definitely be competition, which is great for Kuwait because it will give them many options. The biggest strength that RGL has is experience, expertise and the quality of product and services that the company offers.
Is Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) open to new technologies and innovations in subsurface heavy oil recovery?
In all the communications we have had with KOC, I have found them very open to new technologies and keen to learn. KOC also has a research and technology team that is here to help with our technologies, knowledge and experience to find the best technology that is economically feasible. Our core focus is on sand control and flow control devices, both of which are needed and will continue to be needed for optimal heavy oil recovery.
How viable is KOC’s goal of reaching 60,000 bopd of heavy oil production by 2018 and to increase that to 270,000 bopd by 2030?
Based on my knowledge of the reservoir, I believe these production targets are very achievable. The reservoir will have a high yield if the production strategy is executed properly by employing optimal well completions and operation practices.
Can you offer some updates on RGL’s activities in Kuwait?
Kuwait is important because of the heavy oil projects that are ongoing in the country. Kuwait does not have a commercial heavy oil project right now but the country is looking into commercialising some of the projects they have been piloting.
We have been involved in heavy oil projects since 2008 in Oman and we are looking to expand our business in Kuwait and bring our extensive experience from North America, especially in sand control and flow control devices, which are the core of our business.
To what extent can RGL’s experience in Canada be applied to the GCC? Are there any challenges that make it more difficult to work in these types of environments?
The technologies are transferable even though the reservoir characteristics are different and unique. Reservoirs differ from country to country and region to region. We have helped companies in Oman such as Occidental Petroleum Corporation and Petroleum Development Oman with the sand control challenges they have encountered and the experience and technology are directly transferable to Kuwait.
What made RGL start looking at Kuwait?
An international company cannot ignore the Middle East because it is such an important region. Since we were already in Oman, we saw that that experience could be transferred to Kuwait. Moreover, we are also expecting that heavy oil production will eventually pick up in other GCC countries and we want to make sure that we are at the forefront of that and establish ourselves to capture that business in the future.
For now, we are in Oman, Kuwait and, to some extent, Bahrain, which has challenging heavy oil reservoirs. Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia may eventually present opportunities as well.
Are you in discussions with KOC to sign your first contract?
In the past we supplied sand control systems, mostly slotted liners, to KOC through a third party, but now we have MEOFS [Middle East Oilfield Services] as our trusted partner and agent in Kuwait and are communicating with KOC. We now better understand the aspects of sand control in the Kuwaiti reservoirs and we will be proposing our own designs for sand control. We will be very competitive and will provide high-quality product and services. We are therefore positive about our future footprint in Kuwait.
Did you face any difficulties entering the Kuwait market compared to other GCC countries where you have operations?
We have not faced many difficulties in Kuwait. One of the challenges that we have had, which is not a major challenge, is that there is not much heavy oil experience in Kuwait yet. It is something new for KOC and they will therefore require time and communication to help them with the optimal designs they will need and the other alternatives they have, alternatives which have worked for similar projects in other countries.
For more information on RGL Reservoir Management in Kuwait, such as its plans for utilising innovative technology developed elsewhere for extracting Kuwait’s hydrocarbons, see our business intelligence platform, TOGYiN.
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