One of the persisting challenges in shale reservoir development is the issue of steep decline curves and poor ultimate recovery of hydrocarbons. Dr. Cemal Saydam, a research biochemist in Turkey has developed a revolutionary new green process that dramatically boosts the production of methane. Welcome to an interview with Dr. Cemal Saydam and Yigit Atamer, who explain the product and the process.
What are your names and your background?
The name of our company is CHITLIG Inc. derived from CHITin and LIGnin, two polymers used our new product which accelerates the decomposition of biopolymers and converts them very quickly into methane. Dr. Cemal Saydam is a marine biochemist who has investigated chemical processes from the point of view of accelerating them or catalyzing them. Our investigations have demonstrated that this method could help extend the lives of shale gas wells by organically stimulating the production of gas, increasing reservoir pressures, and reducing the decline curve.
Another area of scientific interest is the transport of desert dust and its interactions with cloud droplets. During his career, the inventor has managed to solve the basic chemical process that takes place within the cloud droplet once desert dust encounters cloud water. Dr. Saydam’s academic studies first resulted in a patent: European Patent Office - EP 2277371 B1 and the ongoing research resulted with US US10,266,404B2.
What is your current involvement in the oil industry? (include link to your company)
We have patented a method of gas recovery in aerobic conditions from shale sediments. The patent information can be seen by entering Patent No. US10,266,404B2 dated Apr. 23, 2019. We are seeking implementation and development partners. We would like to conduct joint studies on a wider range of samples in an advanced laboratory and in different well sites with operating companies and researchers.
How did you get started in the oil industry?
This is our first foray into the oil and gas industry.
What are some of the current challenges facing the oil industry?
The industry faces many challenges, including economic, political and environmental. We focus, however, on hydrocarbon recovery from unconventional resources. At present, the shale rock must be mechanically fractured to free the gas, so large quantities of water, sand, and a range of chemicals are pumped in under high pressure (hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking') which are costly and raise environmental concerns among the public, in particular with respect to groundwater contamination. Our method can help reduce the frac design footprint, and more than anything, can increase the volume of gas so that the pore spaces stay propped open longer and the flow lasts longer. We intend to tackle the decline curves so that they are not so steep and that the wells flow longer.
What is your new invention?
Our new invention based on the understanding of the basic decomposition process of natural systems. Shale rocks are the remnants of those flora and fauna that dominated the region during the past geological times. Methane generated under anoxic conditions within the shale rocks are trapped and can be recovered by hydraulic fracturing. Our approach promotes in-situ generation of methane and other hydrocarbons under oxic conditions. It replaces hydraulic fracturing chemicals with the natural mix of chitin and acidic reactant to induce the chemical reaction that will help release hydrocarbon gases.
What is the goal? What does it do?
Our goal is to introduce this natural decomposition mechanism to shale gas industry and achieve better shale gas recovery while avoiding any potential negative environmental impacts of present-day techniques. The reactant that we are using is also produced naturally by fungus. Thus its use will not adversely impact the environment. The reactant is a mere concentrated form of the chemical used by mother nature to decompose everything. It simply reacts with the second most abundant biopolymer “chitin” and removes the acetyl fraction. What’s left is what we call methane. Depending on the site’s geologic characteristics, various other hydrocarbons are also formed. In other words, a shale play may favor the production of methane but another may enhance other hydrocarbons, but the reactant is universal.
Where does your invention work?
It will work in any low-permeability formation where currently conventional hydraulic fracturing is considered best way to release the hydrocarbons. Our invention is a mere imitation of the decomposition mechanism of natural systems. We enhance the process simply by increasing the concentration of the reactant in the shale layer, which triggers an immediate response in the form of deacetylation. The reaction mechanism can be further enhanced by injecting more reactant and applying a vacuum since removing the end products will force to shift the reaction toward end products.
How does it solve current problems?
Instead of using various chemicals during hydraulic fracturing, our technique promises to increase range recovery of shale gas and to reduce environmental impacts.
As result of reaction with shale and reactant, we obtained at lab studies, Hydrocarbon Gases (C1-C6), harmless water and soil with rich humic values.
The technique can also be used to improve the recovery of uneconomic wells, and to revitalize late-life wells that may be in danger of being plugged or have already been plugged.
Please describe some of the applications and why you're excited about it.
The technique is iconoclastic since it is based on the production of methane under oxic conditions. The materials used and the end products are environmentally benign. The reactant used is applicable on a global scale but the resulting products may vary from site to site due to their geological past. Our laboratory experiments so far have shown that while one site favors the production of C1 very effectively but not so effectively for larger hydrocarbon molecules, another site may produce less C1 but more C2-C6 hydrocarbon molecules.
What are your future plans?
We would like to establish contact with various companies who are willing to work with us on this new endeavor. In addition to immediately applying the technique on existing wells in the United States, we also would like to run tests at various global sites. This approach will quickly and easily enable us to delineate those regions that result most preferably resulting with HC’s ranging from C2-C6 and concentrate on those areas. C1 is a mere energy that cannot be used otherwise at present. But HC2s extending from C2-C6 is a precious source of raw material for petrochemical industry.
The team will be presenting at U-Pitch at URTec.