Oil & Natural Gas Projects
Exploration and Production Technologies
Sonication Technology for Oil Well Stimulation
This project was selected in response to DOE's Oil Exploration and Production
solicitation DE-PS26-01NT41048, focus area Effective Environmental Protection.
The project goal is to develop a sonic well performance-enhancement technology
that focuses on near-wellbore formations.
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA
The successful development and deployment of sonic well stimulation technology
will significantly enhance well deliverability and solve one of the perennial
problems of oil and gas productivity, namely the impact of skin damage on oil
well productivity. The principal focus of the proposed work is the development
of this technology. The scope of the project is designed to cover laboratory
experiments, mathematical modeling, transducer design and testing, and field-scale
testing regimes. The successful completion of these tasks will produce a good
understanding of the performance capability of sonication as a means to stimulate
and remediate damaged wellbore zones, the mechanisms governing such processes,
and the possible configuration for field deployment.
The successful completion of this project and the deployment of the resulting
sonic oil well stimulation technology (OWST) would provide the operator with
a cost-effective and environmentally benign alternative to conventional well
stimulation technology. The sonic technology will help independent oil and gas
operators achieve breakthrough technology needed to extend the life of their
wells and thereby increase ultimate production. This eventually could add significant
reserves to the Nation's energy resources.
The overall strategy is to develop, evaluate, and characterize an acoustic excitation
technique that can be used to stimulate oil wells by effecting flow improvement
in the near-wellbore region. To this end, the investigators have identified
the following tasks:
- Design and performance of a suite of laboratory-scale experiments that will
examine and quantify the mechanisms associated with the cleanup of the wellbore
and near-wellbore regions.,
- Development of a model that will incorporate the mechanisms identified in
the laboratory-scale experiments into a model that can be used to scale up for
- Continued development of variable-frequency acoustic transducers that are
designed to be integrated with the production string for continuous service
in the wellbore environment.
- Field testing of the transducer in existing oil wells that will determine
the effectiveness of the technology in enhancing productivity.
The following are the salient scientific and technical bases for the proposed
- The slim tube experiments are designed to help delineate the principal mechanisms
governing the interaction of sonic energy and the wellbore environment that
- With a good understanding of the physics, a fundamental model with descriptive
and predictive capability will be developed for the process. This model will
be used for designing and implementing the sonic oil well stimulation technology
in the field environment.
- The design and deployment of variable frequency transducers will help to delineate
and apply the appropriate frequency and energy levels for formation penetration.
- Field implementation will help to enhance optimal configuration of the device
for effectiveness and efficiency.
- The planned configuration will be such as to integrate seamlessly and easily
with the existing production string without a need for significant modification.
This will ensure reasonable deployment cost of the technology.
- Successful application of this technology will provide an effective, cheaper,
and environmentally benign alternative to conventional oil well stimulation
The slim tube experimental apparatus was designed, built, and tested. Using
the slim tube set-up, one-dimensional flow data under the influence of acoustic
stimulation were collected for a range of flow and acoustic parameters as
well as various porous media characteristics.
A one-dimensional acoustic stimulation model was developed and tested. Specialization
was done to isolate different phenomena, including cavitation and thermal
effects. Due to limited time, researchers did not investigate the effects
of interfacial phenomena. Students are in the process of extending this model
to include some of these phenomena.
An attempt was made to develop the source function arising from cavitation,
which turns out to play a significant role, at least under laboratory conditions.
The next step is to incorporate this source term in a reservoir model that
could shed light on the impact of acoustic stimulation of near-wellbore flow.
Field testing commenced with the drilling of four new wells, designed specifically
for the testing of this sonic tool. In addition, one existing well was recompleted
to accommodate the testing regime planned for this work. Log data as well
as core data were acquired in order to form the baseline for the field deployment
and testing of the tool. Appropriate metering and associated instrumentation
were acquired in preparation for the field testing of the tool. This task
has now been halted for lack of budgetary support.
Current Status (August 2005)
The project is in the third year of four-year funding.
Project Start: March 25, 2002
Project End: May 31, 2006
Anticipated DOE Contribution: $3,000,000
Performer Contribution: $752,924 (20% of total)
NETL - Jesse Garcia (email@example.com or 918-699-2036)
Penn State - Michael Adewumi (firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-863-2816)