Innovative technologies are crucial in order to extract fossil fuels efficiently. Industrial gases such as nitrogen play a key role here. In the case of enhanced oil and gas recovery (EOR and EGR), nitrogen is injected into the reservoir at high pressure, enabling field operators to extract valuable natural resources and increase production and recovery rates. To meet this demand for nitrogen, Linde has designed and built some of the world’s most impressive air separation plants in recent years. The Cantarell oil field in Mexico is a world-famous example.
Nitrogen doubles output
Located around 100 kilometres offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, this complex is one of the world’s biggest oil fields. For a long time, it was the second most productive oil field in the world. Injecting nitrogen into the field has at times increased flow rates from one million to 2.2 million barrels a day. The strong rise in production started immediately after Linde had completed the land-based nitrogen complex in 2000. At the heart of this complex are four air separation units (five since 2004). To produce the gas, the plants first cool the ambient air to its liquefaction point. Rectification columns are then used to distil the liquid air into its constituent parts. Once the nitrogen has been separated in this way, it is transported around 100 kilometres in high pressure, 36-inch pipelines to the offshore oil field, where it is injected into the reservoir.
Enhanced oil and gas recovery involves injecting gases such as nitrogen at high pressure into reservoirs. This increases the reservoir pressure and can significantly boost production and recovery rates.
Supply contract with Linde extended
Based on positive experiences at sites like Cantarell, experts predict further growth for the global EOR and EGR market. And Linde will continue to support Mexico̕s Cantarell field. The local operator has extended the supply agreement with Linde. Meanwhile, the Cantarell air separation plants are also supplying nitrogen to surrounding oil fields to increase their recovery rates.