Novel Method and Design for Optimal Production of Fluids from a Single Horizontal or Deviated Wellbore

Physical Sciences : Petroleum

Available for licensing


  • Mukul Sharma, Ph.D. , Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering
  • Ripudaman Manchanda, Ph.D. , Petroleum, Geosystems and Chemical Engineering
  • Evan Gilmore , University of Texas at Austin

Background/unmet need

Production of hydrocarbons from unconventional reservoirs, such as shale, presents unique challenges. The extremely low permeability of the rock, or in some cases the low mobility of the fluids in the pore spaces, make typical hydrocarbon recoveries very low. Even with the use of horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing, less than 10% of the original oil in place (OOIP) is recovered compared to conventional oil and gas reservoir recoveries that can easily range from 30% to 40%, post waterflood. For example, in the Bakken primary oil recoveries are expected to be about 4% of OOIP.

The use of secondary and tertiary recovery methods in such unconventional reservoirs is limited by the limited by several factors: cost; inefficient sweep in the reservoir; and low injectivities/long response times. The implementation of these processes can be made much more cost-effective if the reservoir sweep and well injectivity can be improved and the time to first oil reduced. The present invention provides a method to accomplish this.

Invention Description

Researchers in the Center for Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a unique optimization technique that could dramatically increase recoveries in unconventional reservoirs. The researchers envision a method and a down-hole tool configuration that enables the simultaneous injection of fluids and production of hydrocarbons in existing wellbores to allow for significantly higher hydrocarbon recoveries at minimal cost.


  • Significantly improves hydrocarbon recovery after primary depletion drive is complete, thereby extending the life of the wellbore and the field by many years
  • Allows waterfloods and chemical floods to be conducted in a cost-effective manner in hydraulically fractured horizontal wellbores
  • Reduces the time to first oil
  • Improves reservoir sweep and minimizes bypassed oil
  • Reduces number of wells required for a given reservoir, thereby reducing cost


  • Applicable in existing or new wellbores
  • Designed to standard well bore specifications
  • Allows for simultaneous injection and production from the same wellbore
  • Technology includes both the method and the tool.
  • The tool incorporates down-hole components that can be machined and produced by any company that makes down-hole tools.

Market potential/applications

Injection of water and chemicals for waterflooding or enhanced oil recovery operations in unconventional reservoirs is a growing market segment. The proposed method and down-hole tool is vital to any processes that require injection of water, chemicals, steam, gases or combinations of these materials to displace oil remaining after primary production. Given the fact that over 90% of the oil remains in place after primary production in these reservoirs, it is imperative that new methods be developed that allow waterflooding and EOR methods be applied to low permeability reservoirs.

Unconventional reservoirs, such as tight sands and shales, require horizontal drilling along with hydraulic fracturing to access trapped reserves. These markets continue to grow at a rapid rate and new technologies will help maintain these growth projections. The proposed technology will be applicable in all these unconventional reservoirs and the potential market could be enormous.

Development Stage

Proof of concept

IP Status