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METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR THE WELLBORE SEPARATION OF HYDROCARBON FROM CONTAMINANTS WITH FLUID DIRECTING ELEMENTS

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000009118D
Publication Date: 2002-Aug-07

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

M. Dubrovsky: INVENTOR [+3]

Abstract

A separation system for separating hydrocarbons from contaminants downhole includes a helical fluid directing element which creates a rotating fluid flow within a membrane tube. The rotating fluid flow increases the amount of fluid to be separated which is in contact with the membrane. The increased contact with the membrane improves the efficiency of the separation system.

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METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR THE WELLBORE SEPARATION OF HYDROCARBON FROM CONTAMINANTS WITH

FLUID DIRECTING ELEMENTS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

     The invention relates to recovery of hydrocarbons from a wellbore, and more particularly, the invention relates to technology for separation of contaminants from hydrocarbons in a wellbore with fluid directing elements.

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART Hydrocarbon gases and liquids are recovered from underground wellbores by drilling a wellbore into a hydrocarbon gas or liquid formation and withdrawing the materials under reservoir pressure or by artificial lifting. The fluids withdrawn from the reservoir consist of a combination of hydrocarbon liquids and gases, water, sediments, and other contaminants. The water fraction is commonly referred to as produced water. This fraction, although small at the early stages of oil extraction from most fields, grows over the years and could constitute the majority (up to about 90%) of the fluid that is withdrawn from the reservoir.

    The current recovery technology involves removing the hydrocarbon and any contaminants including water and sediments which are present from the wellbore, and separating the contaminants from the hydrocarbon above ground. This above ground separation is costly. Disposal of the removed contaminants may also present environmental problems. The contaminants which may be produced include carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water vapor, hydrogen sulfide, helium, other trace gases, water, water soluble organics, normally occurring radioactive material and others.

It would be highly desirable to maintain some or all of the contaminant materials within the wellbore and/or selectively separate the contaminants in the wellbore for

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reinjection, removal, or other processing. It would be particularly advantageous to separate produced water from the hydrocarbon in the wellbore and reinject the water in an underground formation.

    Membrane technologies have been developed which separate materials by allowing the selective passage of specific materials through the membrane. New ultrafiltration and microfiltration membranes were developed for the metal processing industry for treating oil-polluted effluents. This technology has heretofore been used as a technology for separating hydrocarbons from water in the metal processing industry and has not been used in the oil field or in a downhole situation. It would be desirable to provide an apparatus and method for downhole separation and selective recovery to maximize the production of a desired hydrocarbon while minimizing production or separately producing contaminants.

    U.S. Patent No. 6,015,011 describes a downhole hydrocarbon separator using membranes. The separator includes a permeable filter attached to the bottom of a packer so that a filter outlet end is in fluid communication with an aperture in the packer. The filter selectively passes fluids from bene...