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For immediate release: March 14, 2003
Media Contact: Percy Della - 916-654-4989

Research to Cut Electric Use
in California's Oil Fields Underway

Sacramento - The Energy Commission has signed a contract with the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council (PTTC) to find ways of cutting electric power consumption while oil is extracted from California's oil wells.

PTTC is a not-for-profit organization that assists independent oil producers make timely and informed technological decisions. PTTC West Coast director Dr. Iraj Ershaghi will direct the demonstration project. He heads the Petroleum Engineering Program of the University of Southern California.

The project will analyze the geology of California's oil fields and demonstrate suitable technical solutions to reduce the water to oil ratio by one half during the extraction process.

In California's oil fields, eight barrels of water have to be pumped from the ground to get a barrel of oil.

When implemented in 2100 targeted wells whose geology allows cost-effective water shut off technologies, the project could result in yearly savings of 148 gigawatt hours of electricity. Estimated dollar equivalent: $21 million.

Contract funds of $300,000 from the Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program will enable the PTTC to examine about 1,000 oil wells throughout California. It will then identify 100 wells with excessive water production. The goal is to mark the oil fields and apply work necessary to diminish water production during oil drilling.

"The resulting reduction of demand for electric power will benefit California's oil producers- majority of which are small businesses lacking resources of time and money, " said Energy Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld. "The project will help them develop methods to control water production from oil wells."

The project will provide a roadmap for small oil producers to implement cost- effective water control technologies. The findings of the project will be passed through small producers through regional workshops.

California ranks as the third largest producer of oil and gas in the United States, behind Texas and Alaska. Its 46,000 wells yield about 271 million barrels of oil and 2.1 billion barrels of associated water annually

The most critical issue for the project is to determine the source of the water and the production mechanism. Numerous technologies are available for water shut-off. These range from simple mechanical means such as bridge plugs and casing patches, to more elaborate schemes.

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Attention Editors:
The PTTC is based in Houston. West Coast Director Dr. Iraj Ershaghi can be reached at: 213-740-0321 or e-mail at: ershaghi@usc.edu.




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