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Prized bacteria

March 7, 2002, 10:00 CET

The Norne licence in the Norwegian Sea and Statoil specialist Egil Sunde have jointly won the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s improved oil recovery (IOR) prize for 2001 today, 7 March.

Mr Sunde is honoured for his development of the microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) method for extracting more of the stock tank oil originally in place (Stooip) in a reservoir.

This solution utilises bacterial processes to help “wash” oil out of the pore system in the reservoir rock more effectively than with water injection alone.

“Hopefully, the NPD award will help to increase awareness of the method and the opportunities which it offers,” Mr Sunde comments.

He has played a leading role in research on various applications for microbes over the past 10 years. His work on MEOR embraces both laboratory tests and field trials in Austria.

These efforts have demonstrated what happens in the reservoir when the bacteria are provided with nutrients, and what effect the system could have.

The Norne licence shares the prize with him because the method is being adopted on this Statoil-operated field.

According the NPD, it wants to honour Statoil for showing courage, being innovatory, daring to accept a little risk and taking the decision to implement the method offshore.

“This is encouraging,” says Ole Magnar Drønen, petroleum technology manager for Norne.

“We’re confident that the method will help to improve recovery from the field, perhaps by almost 30 million barrels over its producing life.”

Statoil has long been a leader in IOR efforts on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Sjur Talstad, vice president for exploration and development technology, emphasises that MEOR represents an interesting contribution to reaching the group’s objective in this area.

“I’ve noted with gratification that our research programmes are yielding results which are being adopted operationally,” he says.