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New valve design increases the recovery of oil

08 February 2017

An EU-funded project has tested a new valve that can increase the recovery of oil from offshore and onshore wells and prolong their life.

Autonomous Inflow Control Valve (AICV) (Credit: Revival Team)

Inflow Control developed a prototype of a new Autonomous Inflow Control Valve (AICV) which was tested as part of the EU-funded REVIVAL project. “The patented AICV technology is the first and only known technology that can autonomously shut-off the gas and/or water completely and reliably from breaking through into the well pipe,” reports Inflow Control CEO and REVIVAL project coordinator Vidar Mathiesen. “During the project, we improved the performance of the valve, made it smaller, and more robust.”

“The new AICV is a significant innovation for the industry because it can increase oil production and recovery by up to 80 percent. Increases vary from 50 to 80 percent depending on the oil field,” reports Mathiesen. Considering that a 5 percent increase in oil recovery would yield as much oil as would be expected from all future exploration efforts, a 50 to 80 percent increase in recovery has incredible implications for the future supply of oil.”

The AICV comprises about 9-10 parts and is 60mm in diameter and 3cm in height. It’s based on the simple fundamental principles of fluid dynamics. “It does not rely on electronics. This is a significant advantage in an oil well, which can be challenging to access and repair,” explains Mathiesen. The valve is self-regulating and can detect viscosity. It also reacts to the flow of water and oil, the valve closes for gas and water and opens to allow oil to flow through. This reduces the CO2 emissions generated by the oil production process.

Typically, each oil field requires about 300 valves which must be adapted to suit each site. “Over the past year, the AICV has been installed in five oil wells globally, where it has significantly improved oil recovery rates,” adds Mathiesen. The next installation of the AICV will be onshore in Romania.

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