Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich – best known to the world as the owner of the Chelsea Footbal Club – has invested $15 million in a new Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) technology that enables ‘clean’ fracking; without the use of water, without polluting chemicals and without earthquakes.
The investment is for Propell Technologies Group which, through its wholly owned subsidiary Novas Energy, is the exclusive U.S licensee of Plasma Pulse petroleum well treatment. Plasma Pulse is a wireline applied intervention that uses electrical pulses to clear near well bore damage and improve production cost effectively, without acidization, hydrofracking or other chemicals.
In simple terms, instead of injecting high pressure fluid into a well to create small fractures to aid during the oil recovery process, the Plasma Pulse Treatment produces a high energy plasma arc that is designed to stimulate the reservoir and removes debris from the well perforations. Oil can then flow more easily from the reservoir into the well and be pumped to the surface.
Unlike other well stimulation techniques, like fracking, which can often take days to complete, with Plasma Pulse the process only requires a few hours in total using a one-man crew and a single wireline truck. What is more, once the process is completed the well can go back into production immediately. By contrast, wells that have been fracked are often removed from production for as long as a few weeks before production can resume.
Novas is a venture capital-backed Russian energy technology company so it’s no surprise that the Plasme Pulse technology is already being applied to a number of Russian hydrocarbon fields.
A pilot test has been run last year on Gazprom’s Kuzbass field in Siberia, producing positive results with production of about 200 cubic meters of coalbed methane a day and annular gas pressure decreasing to 3 atm. Following the successful tests, Novas – in a consortium with Gazpromgeofizika-Nur, a geology-focused subsidiary of Gazprom – has moved to testing the technology on shale wells where fracking had been used. The technology is believed to be “environmentally clean, non-destructive, low-cost and heavy-duty.”
Abramovich, who made billions in the Russian oil industry, has recently expressed a keen interest in a number of energy technology companies. According to OilPrice.com, Abramovich is the largest shareholder in AIM-listed AFC Energy, which is working to commercialize clean fuel cell technology. He has also invested in Oxford Catalysts, which is close to commercializing the GreenSky London Project to supply renewable jet fuel made from London’s household waste. London-based Weedingtech — which makes herbicide-free weed killer — and AIM-listed Clean Air Power are also among Abramovich’s strategic energy investments.
In August 2014, Bloomberg reported that Roman Abramovich has been also building its stake in Velocys Plc, a $400 million company that’s at the forefront of smaller scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) industry.
“This will not merely be a $15 million investment,” an anonymous OilPrice source said of the Plasma Pulse deal. “You have to read between the lines here. Abramovich doesn’t do anything small. He’ll get the infrastructure in place and then look to acquire a significant position in the US oil sector at today’s fire sale prices. We’ll probably be looking at hundreds of millions in investment at the end of the day.”
As OilPrice points out, in the recent climate of anti-fracking protests influencing new legislation and tighter regulations, Abramovich is wise to adopt the technology that will allow him to steer clear of the newly-imposed restrictions. Companies which choose to employ Plasma Pulse technology, will comply with the water-injector cleaning restrictions that kick in July 1 in the state of California. It is no surprise then that major oil and gas companies in the state are already paying $20,000 a pop for Plasma Pulse pilot tests, according to industry sources.
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