For over a century, crude oil and natural gas have been extracted from the underground resources, both on land and has increased in the last few years in the offshore regions. The methods of crude oil and natural gas extraction have become well established owing to the advancements in the technology and only in the last decade it has become necessary to search more aggressively for other resources. The result of this extension is that crude oil is being extracted from various sources such as oil shale and tar sands also it is economic to produce natural gas from various unconventional resources with shale gas being the most preferred.
The broad range of separation process for crude oil and natural gas extraction includes: preparation of drilling mud, separation of solid particles, liquids and gases from crude oil, purification of underground natural gas from particles, liquids, and other gases, preparation of different fluids to be used in partially exhausted reservoirs to accelerate crude oil production, separation of liberated oil from shale deposits, preparation of hydraulic fracturing liquids for use in the liberation of natural gas from shale’s, the segmentation of the gases prior to the insertion in the gas reservoirs for increasing the production rate, the treatment of produced water from oil and gas wells to render the produced water fit for reuse or local disposal, production of potable water for production sites that are remote from civilization, treatment of waste waters, primarily derived from all the housekeeping duties, in order to remove hydrocarbons and various other toxic materials prior to the disposal on land or in the sea.
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The production processes are interrelated on whether they are dealing with oil or gas. Basic crude oil production process includes drilling of oil wells to reach out oil formations and further by production of the crude oil. Generally it uses reservoir pressure or down hole pumps to extract the crude oil to the surface. Secondary it utilizes water flooding technique or pressurizing of the cap of gas above the oil to force out more oil and in the last, a method called as tertiary recovery or Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), which includes several injection processes, using chemical, gas, steam, hot water and microbes.
The EOR processes requires filtered fluids such as hot water and dilute solutions of alkalis and surfactants to enable them to pierce through the rock formations easily. Through the use of Enhanced Oil Recovery technology the recovery of crude oil from a particular reserve may lie in the range of 50%-60% of the original oil in place.
This three stage production process is applicable to the liquid oil trapped below the ground, which can be easily pumped to the surface. A substantial proportion of the world’s total reserves of hydrocarbon fuels exist as the unconventional tar sands, oil shale and shale gas.
Growing population and emerging economies are some of the key drivers of the separation technology market. However, huge cost required to use the separation technology can hamper the growth of the market. Ample amount of opportunities are there for separation technology market owing to increasing demand of energy in Asia Pacific countries especially India and China.
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Some of the key companies in the business of separation technology are Pall Corporation, Opus Company, Hamworthy and Unidro Spa among others.