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Mansouri Oil Field Poised for Technological Change

(Tuesday, January 22, 2019) 16:30

Field-oriented agreements with universities are the turning point in cooperation between the petroleum industry and universities. That started in 2014 and currently nine operating oil fields are exposed to such cooperation for the purpose of enhanced recovery. Previously, universities were individually involved in industrial projects, but under this agreement, the universities are recognized as an element of research projects.

Under the deal for technological studies on nine oil fields across Iran, South Azadegan was assigned to the Institute of Petroleum Engineering affiliated with the University of Tehran, Darquain was assigned to Amir Kabir University of Technology, Soroush was assigned to Sahand University of Technology, Ahvaz was assigned to the Research Institute of Petroleum Industry, Karanj to Islamic Azad University, Kupal to Sharif University of Technology, Mansouri to the University of Shiraz, Gachsaran to the Petroleum University of Technology and Bibi Hakimieh to the Enhanced Recovery Research Center.

Mehdi Escrochi, director of the Mansouri project at the University of Shiraz, said the agreement for studying the Mansouri oil field was signed between the University of Shiraz and the Ministry of Petroleum in 2014.

"The idea was first developed in the form of EOR consortium after a microbial EOR system was unveiled at the University of Shiraz," he told” Iran Petroleum”.

Escrochi said ever since the agreement was signed, the University of Shiraz and the National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC), as the party to agreement, started planning for cooperation.

**No Frustration with Halts

Escrochi said 19 priorities were defined based on the specifications of the Mansouri field, three of which were selected by the client. Finally, he added, one of them resulted in an agreement.

"Certain measures had been taken, but in 2016 the agreement was revised as approaches changed. Of course this change was not good for us, because it occurred at a time when we had finished the first phase of the project and consequently changes in approach called a halt to our previous work," he added.

Escrochi said: "The sudden change and halt in the agreement and changes in the approaches changed planning and the content of the previous agreement was transferred to the third phase (at least four years later). We were making efforts to boost motivations in the new approach."

"In the new agreement, the scope of authority, details and the value of agreement were not specified and have yet to be specified. That is while more than 16 months has passed since the first agreement was implemented and the first package of the agreement has to be completed" by next March, he added.

"This dilemma is the most significant weakness of the project. Nonetheless, we are happy with the process of work and cooperation on the part of NISOC and we are making efforts to benefit from this national chance in favor of national objectives," he said.

"But we expect other organs involved in the project to seriously and quickly approve the content, and avoid any delay in the conclusion of the project," said Escrochi.

He laid emphasis on the involvement of individuals who firmly believe in research work.

"Our main issue is that a small group of individuals involved in this project make no distinction between research and technological development and their long-term impacts on national economy on one side, and the work of an ordinary reservoir study company on the other," said Escrochi.

"Such sensitivity and attention already exists among senior managers and qualified experts of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and those who strongly believe in this job, but among managers of lower position are there some key officials who restrict the implementation of job. Consequently, creativity, which is the most important ground for the conclusion of research projects, is destroyed due to insistence on old mechanisms of study. That is the case while the culture of technological development must exist on both sides of the contract," he said.

Touching on NISOC's all-out cooperation in the project, Escrochi said: "Our good cooperation started from the very beginning and they provided all necessary data to the University of Shiraz. We have had a common understanding of this project and therefore we can say that only marginal changes in the agreement caused problems for us."

"NISOC has a good impression of the University of Shiraz and such trust is a result of previous communications of knowledge between us," he said. "We've had many joint meetings over this time and the confidential data about the background of the field was provided to us on the first day," he said. "Although there are data shortages and uncertainty, which both sides are well aware of, we know pretty well why and when they had been caused."

"Since the very beginning up to now, NISOC has been informing us of any effective change and action," Escrochi said.

"Such circumstances are a result of mutual understanding between us and they know that our job generates value for them," he added.

**No Impact from Management Changes

Escrochi said the University of Shiraz had been subject to major changes ever since the project began.

He said the university has seen three chancellors, three vice-chancellors for research affairs and two project managers.

"These changes have been time-taking and coupled with marginal changes, but fortunately all former chancellors agreed to this project and joint cooperation, and see it as an obligation upon university for the country," he said.

"The chancellor of the University of Shiraz is directly engaged in the meetings related to the project which is continuing regardless of management changes," he added.

"In addition to the Mansouri oil field, the University of Shiraz has two projects under review; development of technical knowhow for methanol value chain and light naphtha isomerization," he said.

The University of Shiraz, now 70, launched its chemical engineering department in 1964. Iran's first PhD in chemical engineering was graduated from this university.

Research in petroleum engineering started at the university in 1995 when EOR-IOR research group was set up.

"Since 1999, we have had 10 research agreements with different sections of NIOC and that is why our cooperation is 20 years now and we have not been inexperienced," he said.

Escrochi said an agreement had been signed with NISOC to study water coning due oil production.  

He noted that the agreements signed with the University of Shiraz were different from others as they involve enhanced oil recovery and improved oil recovery.

"The University of Shiraz considered a separate division for improved recovery. In light of integrated well-oriented and reservoir-oriented studies are expected to produce better results as the bulk of production problems and the low capacity of reservoir production stems from the well problems," he said.

"This project must be carried out in an integrated manner engaging reservoir engineering and operation engineering and NISOC has laid emphasis on this issue. The main focus is on this issue. In the future, an installations-oriented division will be added in the next phases as downstream sector," said Escrochi.

He said the field's identification process has concluded with reasons behind the low recovery rate having been explored.

"We have classified more than 100 wells of this field. The recovery rate in the Bangestan section is about 11% and in the Asmari section stands at 50%. However, our study has yet to reach the stage of recovery rate setting," he said.

But, Escrochi said, "our studies have not yet reached the phase of determining a new recovery rate. But we have to see to what extent the proposals offered would be applicable in terms of operation and financing for NISOC."

He said the Mansouri field could continue producing for long years, stressing the need for maximum efficient recovery.

"In this project, the University of Shiraz is seeking to leave long-term impacts on this field. We have identified similar reservoirs all across the globe and reported them. Based on similar fields, we have conducted screening for EOR," said Escrochi. 

**Recovery Rate Forecast

Escrochi said five potential methods were envisioned for predicting the rate of recovery from the Mansouri oil field in coming years.

"Some of these proposals have been submitted to be assessed. In case they win approved, we will present the final scope of the project and new projections for recovery" next year, he added.

Escrochi said the Mansouri field's specifications are shared by many other fields in their Bangestan and Asmari reservoirs.

"We can hope that good conditions and progress in the process in the Mansouri field would be of help in similar fields," he added.

"Of course, each field has its own certain conditions and generalizing such results is not reasonable. Each field has its own specific features and a separate process would be needed," said Escrochi.

** 4 Technological Products

Escrochi also touched on the financing of the project, saying: "Advance payments have been made to the University of Shiraz for the new approach and at present the University of Shiraz can claim nothing from NIOC."

"In fact, the University of Shiraz has so far delivered four technological products, which are being examined for endorsement at the specialized committee. Four more technological products remain to be delivered," he said.

"The academic team active in this project at the University of Shiraz comprises 29 faculty members, manly from the University of Shiraz staff and young members with interdisciplinary specialties," he said.

He added that experts from the University of Persian Gulf, University of Bushehr, Isfahan University of Technology, Ferdowsi University and Ilam University are cooperating with the University of Shiraz based on needs.

"In the agreement, there is an obligation to hire a foreign partner while at the same time the process of development of technology is under way outside Iran. Universities have good experience of cooperation with neighboring and European nations. Applying such experience could be a value-added for us," said Escrochi.

"Transfer of technology is certainly good, but its advantages are short-term. We have to be able to institutionalize innovation in order to indigenize this technology," he added.

Escrochi expressed hope for the success of the project in light of cooperation on the part of the petroleum industry and the engagement of people with good knowledge of research.

Courtesy of Iran Petroleum

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